An American in Berlin

An American in Berlin
31 May, 2015

This post is proving somewhat harder to construct than its forebears. I’ve now deleted the first paragraph at least three times. Wherefore do I throw up my hands and forego any sort of introspective introduction. Moving right along then, the last few days have not been uneventful.

This past weekend, there was the Karneval der Kulturen. ((Culture Carnival, for lack of a better translation.))  From a New Yorker point of view, it’s sort of half street-fair/half music festival. In any case, on Saturday I met my Australian mate Kelvin ((Whom I’d met at a group conversation exchange two weeks ago.)) for a couple of beers, and from there we proceeded to check out the festival.   We had a good time of it. We even found a little Australian tent, where he introduced me to one of his local beers, 4X Gold. ((In my opinion, it almost had a bit of a honey taste to it.))

After we had left the festival, we wandered the streets a bit, trying to find what we would have called “a proper pub.” However, we didn’t have any luck. “Proper pubs” don’t seem to be a thing in Berlin. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s because it’s so easy to just drink your beer in the street. In any case, I think we were just both a bit homesick for the little things. But it was a nice bonding moment, all the same. Strangers in a strange land and all that.

At the end of it, though, he told me he was having some classmates over the next day and that I was more than welcome to join. So of course I did. And I would have been on time, too. Except that I had a helluva time finding a bottle of wine to bring. You see, I’d forgotten that damn near everything in this town is closed on Sundays. ((One more thing to get used to.))

But in the end, I found some wine and got there not unfashionably late. It was a nice little group. Aside from Kelvin, there was a dude from Venezuela, two Italians and two Americans. The Italians didn’t stay long, but they were great. We actually talked a bit about Caesar and how badass his Latin is, which was really cool. You see, normally when I go off on a Caesar tangent, people just sort of nod in a that’s-nice-Dave-but-you-know-nobody-cares sort of way. But these guys were really into it. “Yeah, Caesar talking about himself in the third person is so badass!” “Yeah, Caesar uses asyndeton ((“Asyndeton (from the Greek: ἀσύνδετον, “unconnected”, sometimes called asyndetism) is a figure of speech in which one or several conjunctions are omitted from a series of related clauses.” Wikipedia)) like a boss!” ((For example: “Caesar sacked the village, killed the men, sold the women into slavery. Caesar doesn’t have time for the word ‘and.’” #toobusyconqueringGual”)) That was a lot of fun for me.

Anyway, once the wine and arepas – which Luis, the Venezuelan had made – were gone, we made off for the festival. It was fun for a while. But eventually we found ourselves at the Latin music stage. And I have to be honest, Latin music just doesn’t speak to me. If I had to say why, the best I can come up with is this. It shuffles, it grooves, it pops…but it doesn’t swing. And for me, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. So eventually I left and went off on my own. And that’s how I got locked in a cemetery.

I left the main Karneval grounds and started to wend my way home. But as I went, ((“Went,” best known as the past tense form of the verb “to go” – go/went/gone – is originally derived from the Old English verb “wenden.” Not a lot of people know that. Incidentally, we still use “wend” today, just as I did in the last sentence.)) I found that the Karneval stretched far into the surrounding streets. There was music, food stands, empty beer bottles, drunken louts and all the rest of it stretching far and wide. So naturally I got off the main road. And when I did, I found a nice inviting Friedhof ((Friedhof – cemetery)) – which, as I mentioned in an earlier post, function just like parks here – and decided to seek refuge therein.

It was lovely. Beautiful. Peaceful. Which is as should be, for the word Friede literally means ‘peace.’ So I wandered its tree lined paths and found solace within its quiet walls. If there was anything to hear at all, it was the song of birds. It was the perfect respite from the Sturm und Drang of the Karneval. But after a while, I noticed that the sun was beginning to set. And so I decided that it was probably time to make my exit. Only, the exits had all been shut and locked. ((Ruh-roh.))

Well now. Cemeteries are lovely and all, but I don’t think I’m up to spending a night in one. Not yet, anyway. Sure, I mean, Everlasting and Eternal Night, when the time comes. But not Sunday, thank you very much. That’s when I ran into Marco.

“Jolly good,” I thought. ((Anglophile though I am, I’m sure the words “jolly good” never entered my mind. Something more profane, no doubt.)) “Not alone.” I approached him, though I didn’t know who ‘he’ was. “Hallo!” I called. “Ich denke, dass die Türe ausgemacht sind,” which was meant to mean ‘I think the doors are locked,’ but which might actually have meant ‘the doors are shut off.’ “Ach so,” he probably responded – ‘I see…”

So we walked for a bit in silence, trying the various entrances, and finding each of them locked in their turn. Eventually, we gave up and made a go of hopping the sharp, pointed ((And dare I say – only slightly hyperbolically – death defying.)) fence. Success! Ok, so it wasn’t exactly Steve McQueen breaking out of Stalag Luft III, but it was still a Pretty Good Escape.

Well, once we’d gotten free and the tension had been relieved, we spoke more freely. Marco was from Italy, I learned. But he’d been in Berlin at least since the beginning of the year, and so we spoke *rather* easily in German. This, I must say, I greatly appreciated. By which I mean, I was thrilled that he didn’t immediately switch over to English upon learning that I was from New York. In fact, we spoke no English at all, which was just delightful.

And as we walked down the Hasenheide, he asked me the question that many before have asked: Warum sprichst du so gut deutsch? – How is that you speak such good German? It was at this point that I began to realize that this must be a somewhat formulaic question. My German is, after all, pretty shit.

There is a Sprichwort in German, a saying: Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache – German language, hard language. In other words, Germans (and by extension, German speakers) are aware that their language is not an easy one. ((Or is it? I mean, compared to Finnish or Chinese, German is a walk in the park (or Friedhof as it were). And it’s Indo-European, so on some level, it’s no different than French, or Latin, or Greek. It’s just wearing unfamiliar – and more complex – clothing.)) In any case, I get the impression that Germans (& German speakers) are generally impressed with even the least effort to function in their language. All to say, the question shouldn’t be taken quite literally. It would better be rendered as something like: “Whoa, you’re American and you’re not a complete idiot? Well done! Don’t let it go to your head.”

In any case, we turned off of Hasenheide and made our way through Hasenheide Park for a bit. We had a nice chat, and exchanged numbers at the end of it, ostensibly to grab a beer at some indeterminate point in the future. Whether or not that actually happens is beside the point. The point is: Look at me functioning as a social creature! Who knew?

Monday I went to Tempelhofer Feld a) to read some Tolkien and b) because Tempelhofer Feld is awesome. But on the way, I stopped for a falafel sandwich. “Ein Falafel, bitte. Aber, ohne Weißsoße – One falafel, please, but hold the white-sauce. Falafel Man answered something which I didn’t quite get. When I asked him to repeat, he pointed to a sign that read “100% vegan.” “Ach, ich bin nicht vegan…aber, ich kann’s nicht essen” – Ah, no, I’m not a vegan…I just can’t eat (read: digest) it. This brought the inevitable, “Wo kommst du her?” – Where are you from? In other words, ‘your German is sufficiently shit, I must ask you where you’re from, since obviously not here.’ ((Although I’m almost certain that his actual words were: “Wo kommst du aus.” In which case, he himself would have got the preposition wrong.)) When I told him I was from New York, he told me that he was from Egypt. Whereupon he proceeded to tell me that he didn’t like Obama and that the U.S. had made a fine mess of the Middle East. “Irak ist kaputt.; Libyen ist kaputt; Syrien ist kaputt.” ((This needs no translation.)) Well, yeah. Sorry. See, it’s always weird when you get stuck talking about your own country’s politics with foreigners. I might very well agree with you. But now I feel like I need to walk a fine line between agreeing with you and defending my country. It’s just awkward. And the last thing I wanted to do was get into my thoughts on Egypt, which in my opinion is doing a fine job making a mess of itself with or without our help. ((This isn’t the place for this, but to be brief: Ok, so Morsi sucked. Fine. Then vote him out. Don’t have a military coup about it. You’re going to talk to me about Obama? What about Sisi then? I’ll stop here.))

Fortunately, there was a guy hanging out at the falafel stand – who, I take it, was a friend of the guy behind the counter – and he did a lovely job of breaking the tension. Saying things like, “I had a cousin who visited New York, I hear it’s great.” Or, “Yeah, but Egyptians are all assholes too,” with a wink. Well, despite Falafel Man’s obvious displeasure with American politics, he seemed to like me just fine. In fact, he made me a cup of tea while I was waiting for my sandwich, which is something I’ve never seen before. So in the end, it all worked out. And I’m sure I’ll be back there for lunch before long.

Tuesday night I attended a free German class that my new roommate teaches. It was actually quite well done. The lesson was predominantly about grammar, so I latched right onto it. I have to say, my new roommate is pretty impressive. I look forward to going again next week. And of course, I immediately fell into class-clown mode, jumping on terrible puns whenever possible. It’s very endearing, don’t you know.

While I was waiting for the class to start, I grabbed a beer from the bar ((Did I mention the class takes place in the back room of a bar? How can you not love this country?)) and struck up a chat with the only other person who was clearly there for the class. We chatted in German for a bit, running the usual where-are-you-from, what-are-you-doing here business. Giulia was Italian, but when we switched to English I discovered that she spoke with a bit of an Irish lilt. And sure enough, she grew up and learned English in Ireland. “Whereabouts?” I asked. “Limerick,” quoth she. “Ah, Stab City,” quoth I. And her face lit up. “How did you know that?!” she asked. What could I say? “I’m a man of the world.”

We sat together in the class and partnered on anything required a partner. She was a pleasure to work with. Hopefully I’ll get stuck with her again next time. And look, I know we should be speaking German with each other as much as possible, but did I mention she has an Irish accent? It’s all I want to hear. Irish accents are so beautiful. I could listen to her read the train schedule. And anyway, it’s bloody Berlin. Plenty of other people to speak German with, right?

Wednesday night was a little dinner party at Joschka’s. His girlfriend, Lusine, was in visiting. So of course it was lovely to see her, especially as she’s officially become part of the Duff’s Crew. ((The official Duff’s Crew, I’d say, is made up of Joschka, Lus, Vinny, Niki & me. Also the Finns, when they’re in town. Also, for anybody reading this who somehow knows me and not Duff’s, it’s only the greatest metal bar in all of Brooklyn, NYC and the whole world already.)) The other member of our dinner party was a childhood friend of Joschka’s, now also living in Berlin, a girl by the name of Verena. Verena is a professional flute player, a real sweetheart, cute as hell and straight-up hawt by any metric. In any case, we had a lovely time of it, and I managed to get off a couple of jokes in German, proving once and for all that I am funny in at least two languages. ((#amirite))

Verena also has a motorbike, on which she graciously offered me a ride at some indeterminate point in the future. “Will I have to sit behind you and wrap my arms tight around you?” I asked because I don’t know how to interact with girls my own age. “Of course,” she replied unphasedly, because we’d already met two or three times. “Great! When do we leave?” Poor Joschka. He can’t take me anywhere.

A point I demonstrated yet again, when him, Lus and I went out on Friday night. We were at this “California-style” ((Whatever the fuck that means.)) cocktail bar. At one point, a nice couple came and sat down at our table, albeit huddling themselves at the other end thereof. Later on, the fellow popped off to the loo, and so I decided to try my German on the lass, who was [probably] bored, waiting for her beau. Here is the conversation, which I will give in both languages:

Dave: Hallo, liebe Nachbarin!Girl: Umm, hallo.D: Ich bin Dave. Und wie heißt du?G: [Name]D: Freut mich. Und kommst du aus Berlin?

G: Fast.

D: Fast?

G: Seit 10 Jahre.

D: Ach so. Aber, Ursprünglich?

G: Frankfurt. Und du?

D: New York. Also, du bist eine Frankfurterin?

G: Ja.

D: Weißt du, in New York, wir essen Frankfurtern.

G: …

D: Naja, aber, du bist sicher. Ich esse dich nicht.

G: …

D: …

G: …

D: Also…schönen Abend!

G: Dir auch…

Dave: Hello, dear neighbor!Girl: Umm, hello.D: I’m Dave. And what’s your name?G: [Name] ((I’ve totally forgotten it.))D: Nice to meet you.   And are you from Berlin? ((Berlin, I should mention has this in common with Brooklyn: Nobody seems to be actually from here.))

G: Basically.

D: Basically?

G: Well, for the last ten years.

D: Ah, ok. But originally?

G: Frankfurt. And you?

D: New York. Ok, so you’re a Frankfurter?

G: Yeah.

D: You know, in New York, we eat fraknfurters.

G: …

D: Yeah, but, you’re safe.   I won’t eat you.

G: …

D: …

G: …

D: Right…good evening!

G: You too…

Poor Joschka. He can’t take me anywhere. But on the bright side, there’s more proof that I’m a regular riot in at least two languages. ((#amirite)) And on still another bright side, when I asked Joschka how my German was during the course of that ridiculosity, he said that it was basically spot on and that, indeed, he was fairly impressed. On the less bright side, he then pointed out that talking to strangers like that – even if they are sharing your table – just isn’t a thing here. Well, alright. Bit of a social faux pas there. But at least I nailed the German.

There are, of course, lesser events to report. More time spent at lovely Tempelhofer Feld. Getting drunk with Mischa and Blondey. Letting Lus have a go at giving me a bit of haircut and beard trim. ((They’re both still long, but I look rather a bit less homeless now.)) Buying some new vanilla flavored pipe tobacco, which is nice, but maybe just a touch too sweet. Meeting up with my Bavarian conversation partner, who is just an all around lovely guy.   Totally loving the fact the Rangers are finally out of the playoffs. And so on. But this post is become overlong, to say nothing of overdue.   Thus findeth it its end here.

Next Post: June 3, 2015
Previous Post: May 23, 2015

An American in Berlin

An American in Berlin
23 May, 2015

The beginning of this week seems like a lot more than a week ago. And with that poorly crafted sentence begins the fourth installment of this series. ((Feel free to bail at any time now.)) In our last episode, I was looking for a place to live in June, planning on a bit of exploring and getting ready to cook dinner for the roommates and possibly Blondey. And what have I done? Well, I cleaned my pipe.

No, seriously, that thing was getting gross and I’d forgotten to bring pipe cleaners with me. So obviously, I had to buy some. But first, I had to find out what they were called. Apparently, the word is ‘Pfeifenreinigern,’ which I have to say was somewhat disappointing, as I was hoping for at least three more syllables. On the other hand, ‘rein’ means ‘pure.’ At least ‘Pipe-purifier’ sounds a bit erudite, doesn’t it? But that’s all a bit of nothing, innit.

Moving on. Most important(ly), ((Pedants have a problem with the adverb here. But from one pedant to another, go screw. Descriptivism trumps prescriptivism every time.)) the room-sitch for June seems to have sorted itself out. ((#knockwood)) Actually, before my last posting – on Sunday – I went to go see a place. But I didn’t say anything about it, because I actually quite liked it and didn’t want to jinx it. ((Because I’m a goalie and we’re superstitious.)) So here’s how it went down. After sending what I’m pretty sure was literally a million emails and requests to wg-gesucht ((The German equivalent of craigslist but specifically for rooms.)) and Airbnb, and after getting maybe six responses – four of which telling me the rooms weren’t actually available – I got one which intrigued me. Paraphrasing into English, the Reader’s Digest version was something along the lines of: “Well, I’m really looking for somebody for two months, and I really don’t want to go through this process again…buuuuttt…you sound nice. Can you come by at 5:30?” It was 3:00. Yes, of course, see you then!

So I roll up, and there’s this girl standing in the doorway. And she looks…well, she looks totally fucking normal. She shows me around the apartment. And it’s big. With one room set up as a workspace room and then a proper living room on top of that. The kitchen was big and fully stocked. The bathroom was spotless. Then she asks me if I’d like a glass of water. Actually, yes I would.

So we sit down in the living room and start to chat. The tour (and the email correspondence) was all in German. But now we switch to English. We talked about all manner of things. Our approach to living in a shared space, ((Obvi.)) music, studies, Paris, French, Bourgeois hipsters whose parents pay for their apartments, German (she’s a German teacher!). We’re really getting on well. The chat lasted for over half an hour. Finally, I say, “Well, look, I know you want somebody for two months, so I know this isn’t necessarily ideal. But for me, this place is perfect. And I think we get along pretty well. So for my part, I’d be happy to stay here in June.” Her: “Ok, well, it’s basically down to three people. I still have to meet one more person tomorrow. So I’ll let you know.” Well, I never expected her to offer it to me on the spot. Now she thinks for a second. “You’re not like a vegan or a vegetarian, are you?” Uh-oh. A test? “Noooo? Are you? I mean, if you are – I don’t have to use your pans – .” “No, I’m not at all.” Thank god. Ok, so I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for your time.

And I basically just assumed it was too good to be true. I mean, the place was great and we got on so well, there was no way this could work. That night, I write my previous post and say nothing of this because, as I said, I don’t want to jinx it. But the very next morning, I find an email in my inbox. I see it’s from her. And the previewed first line reads, “It was very nice meeting you yesterday…” Oh God. Denial. Rejection. If she was going to accept me, she would have texted. Back to square one. Why gods? I’d burn my fatted calf for you, if only I had one. And the two calves I do have always been pretty lean anyway…

Wait, read the email, Davey. “…nice meeting you yesterday. I think we got along very well. So if you’re still interested, I’d like to offer you the room…” Yes, yes! A thousand times yes! “Also, would you like to sing in our choir?” What? Yes? No? I mean, no. I can’t sing choral music. I’m a rock’n’roll guy. But if I say ‘no,’ do I submarine the whole…oh gods, why? Anyway, I politely declined, and I think all is still well.

In truth, part of me is still waiting for the email that says, “Yeah, so actually, I thought it over, and sorry to do this to you, but really, I do actually need somebody for the two months and good luck to you.” But failing such an epic disaster, I do seem to be set for June, and that’s a load off my mind. And actually, I’m quite looking forward to it. It really does seem like it would be a very nice living-sitch.

What’s more, it’s the perfect distance to my school. So, in accordance with my plan of doing more exploring, I decided I’d make the walk from her place to my school on Monday, in order to time it out. And it’s almost exactly the distance from my LES apartment to my old job. Perfect!

I actually popped into the school, just to see the place and introduce myself. The people there were lovely and they gave me a bit of a tour. It was good to get my bearings, and to remind myself what I’m doing here in the first place.

But back to exploring. It turns out the school is quite literally around the corner from Checkpoint Charlie. So I had a look at that. And from there, I passed through the Brandenburg Gate and onto the Tiergarten, which is more or less Berlin’s answer to Central Park. It was lovely and empty and peaceful and quiet, but for all the birds singing. Now, I know nothing about birdcalls, and frankly, I don’t care to learn either. But it was quite relaxing to walk along and listen to all the different songs.

Leaving the Tiergarten, I embarked upon a long and indeterminate route home, which took me through several neighborhoods I’d not yet seen. Wilmersdorf is quite nice, albeit rather a bit posh. So posh, in fact, that I had trouble finding a späti. ((Späti, or Spätkauf (literally: late-buy) is the German version of the Bodega. It’s where you go to buy a single beer (or other “essentials”).)) I mention this because I’d been walking for probably three hours at that point, and I was damned thirsty. And this being Germany, I was determined to get my hands on a beer for the next bit of my trek. Because Freiheit. ((Freedom.))

Soon enough, however, I passed from Wilmersdorf into Schöneberg, which was much more my speed. It wasn’t long before I found my holy grail, a bottle of Augustiener, which I’m pretty sure was glowing with a divine halo in the fridge of that little späti. But just then, I remembered that Timo – a friend of Joschka’s whom I’d met at the festivals and who had since become my friend – was supposed to be visiting that day. So I texted Joschka, worried that I’d missed the bloke. But in fact, he was only due to arrive in fifteen minutes. So I walked until my beer was gone and hopped on the S-Bahn up to Joschi’s.

Upon arriving, it was made clear to me that we would only be speaking German, unless absolutely necessary. Fear! But, no. This is what I was here for. And my goal was to be able to actually understand people at this summer’s festival. Time to get to work! And actually, we managed!

First things first. After greeting each other warmly and agreeing that we were all hungry and in need of beer, I noticed Timo’s AC/DC shirt. “Schönes T-Shirt!” I say enthusiastically, possibly getting the gender of T-Shirt wrong. This leads to a discussion of where and when they are playing in Germany, which leads to Joschka buying three tickets to see them in Berlin in June! That’s right, bitches! I’m seeing AC/DC in Berlin!

The rest of the night was about what you’d expect. Dinner. Drinks. Hanging out. Me trying to keep up with the German. Succeeding at some points, failing miserably at others, and zoning out entirely at still others. But what was really cool was, I think this was the first time that Joschka ever took me seriously as a German speaker. That is to say, rather than switching to English to talk to me or translating everything that Timo said, he really tried to keep me going in German. He spoke to me in German and encouraged my speaking to him/them in German. It felt like a huge accomplishment, as limited as it clearly was.

A brief digression, if I may, to illustrate what this means to me. Via text message, Joschka has always been extremely patient and helpful as a German teacher. I’ve learned a great deal from him. But we never really speak in German when we’re together. This is, I think, because we’re very good friends and my German is so limited. For him, it would be like talking to a child. I’m just not good enough with the language yet. So to have a night when the three of us could hang out and speak their language instead of mine – which we did, btw, when Timo visited New York this year – was really gratifying. Even if I was in the dark for more of it than I cared to be.

The next night was the dinner experiment. I was cooking for the roommates. And Blondey. I decided upon a sort of German-Italic-American fusion. I did sausage, peppers & onions over pasta with a white wine sauce. But instead of Italian sausage, I used bratwurst. And I made a garlic bread. ((I was initially worried that garlic bread with pasta would be to “carby.” But my dear friend Niki, who is superlatively Italian, assured me that garlic bread was a must, pasta or otherwise.)) Well, it seemed to be hit. Everybody went for seconds, and the garlic bread didn’t survive the night. I’m prepared to call that a success.

The night itself was also a success. Many bottles of wine were drunk. ((Drank? Drunken? We drank many bottles of wine, is the point. #imgoingtoteachenglish)) Conversations were made. Fun was had. All in all, it was a lovely night. And the next day, Blondey dropped off a couple of books for me. ((Apparently, she lives in the building. This may well have been explained to me much earlier, but I’ve only understood this fact since Wednesday.)) One was about an Englishman living in Berlin and was in English. I read it yesterday afternoon in the park, with my obligatory beer.

The other is called “Der Die Was?” ((Der, Die, Das are the German pronouns ‘he, she, it.’ Was means ‘what.’ So the title means, “He, She, What?” (Or, as I like to say it, “He, She, Whaaaaaaaa???”) It’s quite clever. But since it’s impossible to explain a joke without also killing it, I shall stop here.)) and is obviously in German. It’s about an American and his adventures learning the German language. I started it today and it’s quite challenging. Even Anja, my roommate, said she found it a difficult read. But it’s quite fun (and funny). And it very much speaks to my experiences. So for all the effort required, I’m definitely enjoying it. I hope I can finish it before I leave!

[Author’s note: I am now out of wine. Schade! That’s the problem with cooking with wine, as I did tonight. There’s less of it to drink!]

A delightfully awkward experience at the Turkish grocery today. I grabbed some stuff to make lunch sandwiches, amongst which were numbered three small cucumbers. When I got to the register, the girl asked me something about them that I didn’t quite understand. She asked again, and this time, I perceived that her question had something to do with the weight of the produce. Knowing only American supermarkets, I assumed she was asking the price-per-pound. ((Well, price-per-kilo, actually.)) “Zwei und fünfzig par kilo,” I stammered. She replied something else in German. Apparently that was not the answer she was looking for. And seeing that I was clearly stupid, she asked her co-worker if she could speak English. ((#facepalm #davefail))

But while she was asking, my slow-working brain put together her original question, which was, “how much do they weigh?” You see, apparently, it was on me to weigh them myself before I ever got to the register and to report that weight to her. So I waved off her associate. “Ich verstehe,” I said. ‘I understand.” Though I said it not with the pride of actually understanding, but with the shame of being the guy holding up the line because I don’t know how your supermarket works. In my broken German, I asked if I could just forget the cucumbers and leave them at the register. Fortunately, she was not nearly as annoyed as she could have been. In any case, lesson learned. Next time, I shall weigh my own damned produce. But there would be no cucumbers on today’s sandwich. ((Which, come to think of it, is itself pretty German. I mean, we don’t put cucumbers on cold-cut sandwiches, do we?))

I suppose those are the week’s events that bear reporting. Of course I keep up with my Herdotos reading most nights. That’s endlessly rewarding. And there’s something about German and Greek that just, I don’t know. It makes sense that so many of the best Greek scholars were/are German. The languages work in much the same way. It’s a neat symbiosis. Greek actually helps my German and German helps my Greek. You just don’t get that from French. Though in fairness, what you do get from French are fun novels that you can actually read on the subway. But then, Germans read books in German on the subway. So I keep working…

Next Post: May 31, 2015
Previous Post: May 18, 2015

An American in Berlin

An American in Berlin
18th May, 2015

It’s amazing how fast the day – that is, the useful part of the day (and by useful, I mean from a things-being-open point of view) – goes by when you wake up at 12, 1 o’clock. Or, to better get in the local habit, 1200, 1300. Well look, it’s not like I’m sleeping 14 hours a night. I suppose I usually go to bed between three and four. Which is not far off from what I was doing when I had to get up at seven for work. ((Screw you, job!  (Also thanks for the years of employment, insurance, $, etc).)) But I still have a hard time getting moving in the “morning.” So instead of going on some multi-hour trek, I find it’s easier to just go grab a beer, sit in the park and read for a spell.

What am I doing up so late? Mostly reading Greek and doing this stupid blog-thing. So it’s not like I’m not being productive. But I think this week I’ve got to make more of an effort to get out and see more of the city. So I should set some goals here, publicly, thereby hopefully forcing myself to meet them and report back. I should go see the Olympic stadium. ((Because NS architecture is alluringly creepy.  Or creepily alluring?)) You know, that place where Jesse Owens made an ass of Adolf Hitler. ((Cos that was hard to do, said no one ever.)) And I should walk in a direction I haven’t yet walked before.

I went to a group conversation exchange event last week. That was pretty cool. Everyone was lovely. I’m not sure how much it actually helped my German, but it’s a good way to meet people. You know, putting yourself out there and all that. There was only one other native English speaker, an Australian bloke. We got on well and met for a beer a few days after.

Honestly, when I came here I had sort of decided I wasn’t interested in meeting other native English speakers. But it turns it it’s actually really nice to have somebody with whom to compare notes, somebody who’s going through all the same stuff you are. And he’s been here since October, so he’s got some good pointers as well. So I’m going to limit my previous prejudice to Americans.

That said, outside of the conversation meetings, I’m not having the easiest time meeting people. I popped into a bar around the corner the other night which seemed from the outside to have a good vibe going on. But when I got in, I didn’t talk to anybody. I was either too sober or too chickenshit or both, and likely one being dependent on the other. Conclusion: I need to try harder. Or drink more. Or both. ((Let’s start with drinking more.)) But, you know, per aspera ad astra ((Ugh, this doesn’t mean I like you, Latin.)) and all that.

So the blonde girl brought over some cake for us that she had made. And she specifically made it clear – if I understood my roommate; ((Always a big “if”.)) I wasn’t home at the time – that one slice was for me. Which is really lovely, right? Except. Blueberry cheesecake. So clearly she didn’t like me, and after one encounter has taken it upon herself to poison me. It’s the only rational conclusion. Right? Maybe I can feed it to the cats.

Oh man, the cats. So, talk about things I didn’t see coming. I kinda love these cats. ((Sorry, Dad.)) I think we’re becoming friends. Except when I break out the guitar. Then they go running. ((Well, you would too.)) But really, I kinda dig the little fuckers. They’re like semi-sentient animatronic stuffed animals. ((Semi-sentient animatronic stuffed animals that sometimes make a break for the open window. Down! What’s the matter with you! Oh, you don’t speak English. Verdammt!)) Not that I’m ready to deify them, Ancient Egypt style, but I’m forced to admit, I like having them around.

Tuesday I’m supposed to cook dinner for the roommies (and possibly Blondey). I’m a bit apprehensive, only insofar as foreign supermarkets are always weird. Like, I don’t know how to find – or if they even have – half the stuff I’m used to buying. So I doubt I’ll be able to make something that I know I can hit out of the park. But I can usually improvise pretty well, so I’m sure it’ll be fine. And maybe I can coax these jokers into a pre-dinner ciggy so that they don’t really taste anything anyway.

The last thing worth mentioning is, I’m still trying to get a room sorted for June. It’s starting to become a bit stressful. I suppose, in utter need, I can grossly overpay via Airbnb, but I’d prefer it didn’t come to that. It is strange, and perhaps even a bit ironic, to now be on the other side of this experience.

When we lived on Maiden Lane, it always fell to me to deal with the whole find-a-new-third-roommate situation. Of course I always tried to deal fairly with people: respond in a timely manner and all that. But at some point, I always had to turn somebody away who seemed like a good fit, and that was never a good feeling. ((Actually, I usually stuck Jared with that business. But I didn’t feel good about it anyway.))  And now here I am. I’m the one hearing, “Well, you’d definitely be a good fit here, but I’ve a few more people to meet. I’ll let you know.” It’s frustrating, I ain’t gonna lie. But that’s life in the big city, I guess.

I want to shift gears for a moment before signing off. In high school, we had this English teacher, Ms. Young. She was brilliant. ((Full disclosure: she was never actually my teacher. But I spent many free periods chatting with her when she was on hall duty.))  Anyway, she had this idea about storytelling, namely that “there’s nothing new under the sun.” Ok, for the last year or so I’ve been working my way through the Grimm fairy tales. ((You know, to improve my archaic German vocabulary.))  And in doing so, you sort of mentally file away the tropes. Now tonight, I’m reading a bit of Herodotos, and that’s where it all sort of starts to tie together.

So, in Sleeping Beauty, the king get some sort of prophecy or warning or whatever that his daughter is going to get pricked with some kind of needle, which will result in her death or long-lasting coma or whateverthefuck. So what does he do? Well, obviously he banns all sharp pointed metal objects and then locks his daughter in a tower, for good measure. And what happens? Some witch or whatever bullshit, but yeah, she gets pricked, and bam: Sleeping Beauty. Nice try, Your Majesty, but it was always a losing battle. Because Fate.

But now here’s Herodotos, in the mid-400’s B.C. And he’s telling this story about King Croesus. ((Kroisos, would be the better spelling. But why fight it?))  And in this story, Croesus has a dream that his beloved son ((As opposed to his deaf-and-dumb non-beloved son.)) is going to die at the point of a spear. ((ὡϲ ἀπολἐει μιν αἰχμῆι ϲιδηρέηι βληθέντα (1.34.2). Lit: That he would die being stuck by sharp iron. But αἰχμή, while literally meaning the sharp tip of a spear, is so often used synecdochially (or possibly metonomically; I always get confused with those two) for the spear itself. I know. Nobody cares.))  So what’s he do? Well, obviously he takes all his armaments off the walls – because gods forbid they fall off the wall and kill the kid – and locks them away. But of course there’s some wild boar and the kid has to fight it, and well, you know what happens. Anyway the parallel struck me. And meanwhile I get annoyed when they reboot movie franchises. But really we’ve been rebooting our stories for thousands of years.

Ok, so I did that in two half-cocked ((And let’s be honest, half-drunk.)) paragraphs. Feel free to call bullshit. But I’m going to jump to a couple of conclusions. 1) Ms. Young, as always, was right. 2) For all the difficulty involved in learning – and then actually reading – Greek, Herodotos is so worth it. And sure, you could read him in English. Just like you could go watch J.J. Abrams take on Star Trek. But man, don’t you just love The Original Series?

Next Post: May 23, 2015
Previous Post: May 13, 2015

An American in Berlin

An American in Berlin
13 May, 2015

The last few days have been somewhat less adventuresome, at least in terms of exploring the city. The weather has been somewhat less favorable, and I have been perhaps a bit lazier. ((Well, I’m on vacation.)) That’s not so say, however, that the last few days have been uneventful. They have been, in fact, quite fun. Not fun in the New York sense, mind you. That is to say, I haven’t been out at bars till closing and then eating noodles to sunrise. But fun, all the same.

Saturday night, we had a bit of a dinner party here. Funny thing though, I didn’t know it was going to be a dinner party. Originally, I was going to say: “Nobody told me it was going to be a dinner party.” That’s possible. It’s also possible that they told me and I didn’t understand. Anyway, Mischa, my roommate, cooked up a bunch of food. And as I was sitting in the kitchen, I noticed there were four place settings. I noticed, but I didn’t ask.

Anyway, at one point the doorbell rings and in walks a very nice and well dressed blonde girl. ((Girl: Four years older than me.)) Now I mention well dressed only to point out the contrast. As I was unaware that there would be company, I rolled up to the table in a ripped Cheap Trick T-shirt and with my hair a complete mess. ((Or, how I look most of the time.)) Whereas homegirl was wearing a lovely black dress which was not unflattering with regard to her natural assets. Fortunately, where American Dave would have made some self-defeating-albeit-humorous remark, Berliner Dave can’t think fast enough in German. Immediate embarrassment averted.

In any case, it was a lovely evening, in terms of food, conversation and company. We all had a lovely time and drank possibly just a touch more than we should have. Or at least I did. I got to know my roommates better. I made the blue-eyed blonde girl laugh. I learned more German. I didn’t embarrass myself. Oh wait, I did a bit.


At one point, we were discussing our ancestry. Anja, my roommate, mentioned that her family originally came from Königsberg. She then explained that Königsberg, though now a part of Russia, ((Kaliningrad.)) was once a part of Germany. Whereupon I remarked something along the lines of “Aber alle Europa war am einer Zeit ein Teil von Deutschland.” Which was supposed to mean, “But all of Europe was a part of Germany at one point.” ((I still have no idea how correct this sentence is/was.)) Blank stares all around. Dave tugs at his collar. “Krieg Witz?” I offer hesitantly. “War joke?” More blank stares. Silence. Terror. Horror. Now all I can hear is John Cleese screaming, “Don’t mention the war!” I shake my head and wave my hand, since I don’t even know how to say “nevermind.” And we move on.

Now I should point out, these are people are not easily offended. I don’t think they mind war jokes in principal. More likely, my joke made no sense. Or most likely – as I can vouch from 30-odd years of experience – it just wasn’t funny. The joke, I mean. Because the situation, at least in hindsight, was pretty hilarious. However, I made no more war jokes that evening.

In any case, after much wine and perhaps too much absinthe, ((Any absinthe is too much absinthe.)) the evening came a to a close. After Blondey left, I sat and chatted with Anja for a bit. And she offered for me to come back for the month of July. ((They’d already booked June.)) “We like you,” she said. How fucking nice is that? I’ve only been here since Wednesday. I said that that would be great, but we’d all drank a bunch and let’s talk it over again when we’re sober. Which we did tonight, and there’s been no change. So that’s fantastic. I’ve got July sorted now. All I need to worry about now is June. But that’s for another day.

And what about Blondey? Who knows? Maybe she liked me. Maybe I liked her. Hard to say, with the language barrier. Hopefully I’ll see her again. She’s got great blue eyes, did I mention that? But at the very least, the language barrier was good for one thing. I didn’t “Davey it up,” as one of my friends so eloquently put it.

For Sunday, the day after the dinner party, I had scheduled a conversation exchange. This was to be in a part of town called Charlottenburg. By foot, I’d guessed it to be a solid hour-and-a-half, maybe two. And I’d planned to walk it. But I was in no condition. So I took the train.

A brief aside on the Berlin metro-sitch. There are no express trains and trains don’t run much past midnight. ((Point: New York.)) But other than these two [glaring] deficiencies, the mass transit system here is actually quite nice. But it’s one of those systems with no turnstiles. If you’re not on an unlimited, be it weekly or monthly, you have to buy and validate your ticket, in case there’s an inspection. My main problem with this is, inspections are so infrequent that you feel stupid for spending money on a ticket. And yet just frequent enough that you really do need to buy and validate. This annoys me. That is, to the extent that anything annoys me here. Which is exceedingly little, given my sate of general-annoyance-for-all-things back home.

But OK, the conversation exchange. Lovely guy. Bastian is his name. And he’s Bavarian, so he has this way of rolling his R’s which is a) really cool and b) hard to understand at first. But his English is great and he’s super patient and helpful with my German. He likes hockey and baseball too. And not just likes, but is actually current on the state of both leagues! So we had a lovely chat in both languages. Now, since his English is so spot-on, there’s really little for me to help him with. Instead, I teach him a bit of slang. For example: “Imma bounce.” And how “I am going to” becomes “Imma.” Or, “Nah-mean?” And how “Do you know what I-” becomes “Nah-.” He got a kick out of that. Anyway, it went well and we agreed to meet again. More importantly, I might have made my first new friend (not counting roommates).

Thus were the two big events of the last few days. The rest is just general contentment. Walking down the street with a beer in hand. Sitting in my Secret Garden, reading Tolkien with my pipe and a beer. Playing music in my room. I even wrote a new song! In my mind, it might be the best I’ve yet done. But even if it’s not “good,” at least it “swings,” which is generally all I care about. But I haven’t written a new song in quite some time. So I’m hoping this is a harbinger of things to come. With virtually all of my stress removed and with more free time than I know what to do with, perhaps the creative juices will flow once more. Time will tell, I suppose.

I suppose there’s not a whole lot else to say. Last night I drank a bunch of wine with Joschka. That’s never not good. And honestly, it’s really nice to have a proper friend here. I hope he doesn’t read that though. But if you do, Joschi, du bist Scheiße.  Tonight I had dinner with the roomies. Hamburgers, can you believe it!? Here I must mention that the generosity of my roommates seems boundless.

You see, I had planned to cook for myself tonight. But as I hadn’t really seen them since the dinner party, I figured I’d pop into the kitchen and just chill for a bit. But Mishca immediately offered me some of what he was cooking. Well how could I say no? And while he was cooking, we had a nice chat. Then Anja came home and we all ate together, which was great. After dinner, Mischa offered wine and schnapps. ((Cherry flavored. Too sweet for me, but obviously I drank it. #manners #sorrynotsorry)) Then he went to bed and me and Anja also had a lovely chat. I love these guys.

After Anja went to bed, I read a bit of Herodotos. And this is something I’m trying to get in the habit of. If I’m home and sober [enough], I’m trying to read a bit of Greek every night. So far, so good. And man, Herodotos is great. Of all the Greek I’ve encountered, it’s the most readable. Not to say I’m anywhere near being able to read it on the subway, mind you. But you really can read this stuff. And he’s such a wonderful story teller. OK, he’s a bit of a ‘drunkel.’ He goes off on tangents. He relates the most impossible tales at times. But it’s a good read. And he is the motherfucking Father of History after all. So that’s my chosen text. But I need to find some way, some time, to get Homer in as well. ABRH. Always Be Reading Homer. For so many reasons, not least of which, I feel a grave responsibility to maintain mastery over all I have learned from the Old Man.

Right, so I’d best draw this to a close. The last thing I want to do is be negative, but there are two small things which have been nagging at me. One, my French is going to shit. I should always have some Jules Verne in my pocket. If I do, I think I shall be alright. But I need to find a French bookstore. There’s got to be one somewhere in this town. The other thing, I’m probably smoking too much. It’s too easy in this house. Anytime we sit at the kitchen table, Mischa’s cigarettes and my pipe come out. So I’ve taken to not bringing it with me on my long walks. And I miss my pipes on my long walks. But for now, at least, I need it more at home. It’s a bit of a crutch, I suppose. Something I can hang on to when the German is flying fast and thick and I’m only catching pieces of it.

Ugh. Even as my german improves daily – and I think/hope it does – it is still full of holes. Full of holes the way a fishing net is full of holes. That is to say, it’s mostly holes, with fine bits of string strung between them. But already tonight, I understood more of my roommates speech than I did on Saturday. So that’s progress!

Well, tomorrow is another adventure. I’m to go to a group conversation exchange. People of all levels in both languages. It might be a real shit-show. But hopefully there will be broads, at least. And worst case, afterwards I’ll go to Joschka’s and drink. And so, all will be well. All will be well…

Next Post: May 18, 2015
Previous Post: May 9, 2015

An American in Berlin

An American in Berlin
9 May, 2015

Generally when I travel, I try to keep some kind of journal. This has the twofold benefit of recording things which might otherwise be forgotten in the passage of time as well as of focusing the mind. In the past, I have tended to bring with me a small notebook, in which I might scribble on a park bench or a barstool. However, this being a longer journey than usual, and of an altogether different specie, I have decided to make periodic postings to my blog, that friends and relations, with whom I expect to have less than regular contact, though today’s technology makes connexion so much easier than in former times, might have a way to keep track of my adventures, should they so desire. ((Though the snarkier of the friends will doubtless – and with all due haste – point out that “nobody cares, Dave.”)) ((In homage to my new – for however long – home, Germany, I have opened with this ridiculously long and overly cumbersome sentence. Apparently that’s how we roll here.))

Foregoing the tedious details of the flight, I begin at home, where all stories must begin. For the month of May, I took out a room on Airbnb. Though a reputable site, and vouched for personally by friends, it is still difficult to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. You see some pictures of the place and have some brief exchange via email with the hosts, but that is all. And in this case, all the correspondence was carried out in German. So while I understood what was being said, I was unable to garner any nuance or feeling on my host’s part nor to give any on mine own. And while my intuition presaged something good, it was still only intuition.

Fortunately, any doubts were soon laid to rest. I was meant to show up at 1230, Wednesday. However, I was a bit late owing to getting a bit lost and being further slowed by my (absurdly, I see now) overstuffed suitcase. Lovely. Here I am in the Land of Punctuality, and I’m late to my very first appointment. Well, I finally arrive, and my host/roommate Anja couldn’t be nicer about it. Then, horror.

I begin to lug my case up the stairs, ((Thank the gods we are on the first floor, which in Europe is the second floor; only one flight of stairs is the point.)) when after about two steps the handle breaks off. Scheiße! But I don’t want to ask for help, as this is clearly not her problem. Yet without missing a beat, she offers to grab one end and help me up the stairs. “Das ist einfacher, na?” Yes, much easier, thank you!!

We get inside and she shows me to my room. I set down my bags and heave a sigh of relief. I look around. The room is lovely. It’s old and well appointed. The furniture is all real wood. And there are two bookshelves, filled with books. Besides which, there is a dresser and a wardrobe. At the far end, the wall is all windows, floor to ceiling. Not much of a view, but so much light! I’ve never had so much light! ((Screw you, New York.))

Now Anja begins to show me around the place, explaining everything patiently in German. I’m getting most of it, but not nearly all. The most important things, I ask her to clarify in English, which she happily does. And good thing, too. For the most important things seem to be about which windows I can open and when, so that the cats don’t escape. Anything else I might have missed, I can pick up in due course.

The apartment is altogether lovely. Everything is old, but clean. It has the air of an antique or curiosity shop to it. But it’s very cozy. The kitchen is well stocked with pots, pans and spices. Apparently Mischa, the other roommate, who is at work, likes to cook. And I’m welcome to use whatever I like to cook as well. I couldn’t ask for better.

What’s more, we can smoke in the kitchen. That’s where I am now, in fact. At the kitchen table with my pipe and a bottle of wine. In fucking Berlin! I smile just to write the words.

Well, Anja leaves for work and I take a much needed shower followed by a much needed nap. Afterwards, I head out to see about a SIM card for my phone, but the shop closed at seven and I was too late. ((What closes at seven? You win this round, New York.)) After a brief stop at home, I meet up with my friend Joschka in his neighborhood – Mitte – for dinner and the obligatory post-dinner drinks. Lovely, but nothing new there.

I get back to the apartment around 0030, and for the first time I notice how bloody loud and creaky the old wooden floorboards are. My first impression was, “oh, how lovely!” But now, I thought each step would wake the devil himself. Half drunk and exhausted from my travels, I got myself to bed and passed the fuck out.

The next day, Thursday, I awoke around 1030. Because I could. I left sometime after twelve. Again, because I could. First thing, I stopped into the Vodafone shop on Karl Marx Str. and got my SIM card sorted.

Now that was fun. You see, the clerk was bilingual. In German and Turkish. So we muddled through in German and when we got stuck, we’d see if either of us knew the English word. Well, let’s just say I had to get out my German/English dictionary app more the once. But in the end, we got it sorted. And I learned how to say “thank you” in Turkish: Teşekkür ederim. This last I mention because my ‘hood, NeuKölln, has a big Turkish population. So it seems like a good opportunity to learn a bit of Turkish as well, no that I don’t have my hands full with German. And in any case, omg, all the good foods! Yesterday I popped into a place and got a chicken doenner plate with fries and salad and by gods was that good! Now people who know me will know with what reverence I talk about the sandwich maker who cares about what he is making, who puts love into the sandwich. The guy who will choose for you the best piece of tomato, who will arrange the meat on the bread just so. It was like that. Some sort of powdered spice was added to the salad. There was a lemon on the plate. All was arranged lovlingly. All for seven Euro! Und alles war sehr lecker! It was amazeballz! In a way, I feel like I left Chinatown in NY and found the equivalent here, with some serious differences, which I’ll come to presently.

So this feast came at the end of something like six hours of walking. Berlin is fucking huge. And yet, most of the buildings never get much beyond six or seven stories. Why build up when you can expand? ((This joke makes itself hashtag Germany.))

But the walk. Berlin is lovely. Parks everywhere. Trees everywhere. Cemeteries everywhere, only the cemeteries are like parks themselves. And birds! You walk down a tree-lined street – Hasenheide, in this case – and you just hear birds singing! Wunderschön! So I wandered through Hasenheide Park, and that was great. But then I found what I was looking for: Tempelhofer Feld.

So Tempelhof (THF) was the main airport in Germany for many years. It’s probably most famous for being the base of the Berlin Airlift. But there’s more to it. You see, much like Volkswagen or Hugo Boss, it has the unfortunate distinction of being essentially Nazi in its design and yet also being generally beloved.   But today, that is neither here nor there. Now, the terminal is simply this magnificent – and massive – concrete crescent that flanks a massive grass field, which is now a park for the Berliners.

But in the midst of this endless grass, wide and open like nothing could ever be in New York, there remain the two runways from days gone by. And over these, the creeping grass has yet to lay any claim. Upon these also, people fly now with their bicycles where aeroplanes once gathered their strength to master the airs.

And so I traversed the concrete boulevards until I came to the far end of the field, which is nearer to my home. There I came upon a grassy path, fenced on both sides. And upon my left stood ancient towers, fighting against time and nature. The woods and grasses grew now about them, claiming them as iron trees in their organic realms. And atop these towers stand lights that no longer see, lights which not so long ago guided the landing aircraft home after so many hours aloft.

The path lets out onto the Hermannstr., which is the westernmost main road to my street. It was there that I found the Turkish restaurant. And from there I made my way home.

When I came in, I met Mischa for the first time. He was cooking and it smelled lovely. I said hello, but I was exhausted, and so went for a nap. But when I came back, I found that he had set aside for me a plate. Dude can cook, let me say that.

In any case, we sat and chatted and smoked and drank for nigh three hours. And he is a character. But he is also a sweet, sweet guy. And endlessly patient with my terrible German.

Now this was a humbling experience. You see, we talked, as I said, for probably three hours. And he did most of the talking. And I must confess, I’m lucky if I understood a third of what he said. And it was exhausting. The power of concentration which is required for such an encounter is uncommon. But I did my best, and he seemed to mind it not in the least. And if after one night I was exhausted and feeling as though I will never learn this language, then perhaps after many nights I will feel the reverse. Such is my hope, at least.

After midnight, Anja came home and the three of us sat and drank for a bit, and they showed me some of their music, which I must say was very cool. All in all, it was a perfectly lovely night, and all the more as it left me with a feeling that in my first month in this foreign city, I am with the right people.

Today I slept past noon. This is the life! I went for another long walk. This time up the Wilhelmstr. towards Potsdamer Platz. This was interesting, having just read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The Wilhelmstr. was where the foreign ministry was, and so was central to the story. But of course it was mostly leveled during the war and so was generally not much to look at now.

Except for the Air Ministry Building. For that’s what it was at its conception, though now it houses the Finance ministry. But in the same way that in New York I would refer to the RCA Building or the PanAm Building, I refer to the Air Ministry Building by its original designation. It somehow made it through the war more or less unscathed. It is impressive, yes. But it is a foreboding monolith, a prime example of what somebody once called “Nazi intimidation architecture.”

It is an altogether creepy feeling to consider what this city might have looked like. A brief detour here, if you have the patience. It seems that there were plenty of people during the Third Reich who, while not nearly anti-Nazi enough by our standards, would nevertheless have gladly seen the downfall of Hitler’s regime, if only to secure a favorable peace.   And so, one need not imagine a world wherein the Nazis had won the war, but simply one in which the war was brought to a premature end and so one in which so many of these menacing buildings had survived. It makes the skin crawl even now to think that official government business is conducted within such walls. There is a shadow there, and one which I do not fully comprehend. But it is cold.

But I moved on from there soon enough. And on my walk home I found more parks, and heard the voices of more birds. I bethought myself to stop upon the Kreuzbergstr. for a currywurst. But the line was ridiculous. Not long, just…not moving. And I had this thought: Fuck you. I don’t wait in line for pizza in New York, I won’t wait in line for currywurst in Berlin. So I got a falafel sandwich for 2.50 and it was delicious. Then I went home and had a nap, and here I am.

Some random follow-up thoughts:

You can drink on the street here. I love it. Go for a walk, grab a beer, the world is your oyster. ((Oyster? Erster? Örster? Gershwin? Anybody? #illshowmyselfout))
There’s fucking parks everywhere. And trees. All of the greens!
I suck at German. I’ve been here since Wednesday. How am I not fluent yet?!
There is definitely a hipster thing going on here. Do I want to be a part of that?
Tonight I sat at the kitchen table, drank an entire bottle of wine, smoked my pipe, read Herodotus and wrote this bullshit. That’s the dream right? Drink and read Greek? It’s going to be a good month…

Next Post: May 13, 2015