In case you ever thought to wonder, yes, pumpkin seeds can get stale. And they lose some of their appeal when they’re chewy instead of crunchy.
These last couple entries have been more along the lines of random things of minimal interest rather than anything real, but you’re going to have to deal with that.
– The cleaning woman finally showed up on Friday and cleaned our hallway, bathrooms and kitchen. It was about time; things were getting kind of nasty. And yes, she cleaned up the stairwell as well, thank god.
– There is a pattern that I’ve noticed over the last two semesters. In every course in the university here, and I’m thinking particularly of seminars but I think it applies to all, there is at least one “older” (meaning 50+) person who is required to be disruptive in class. It seems that most of these people are retired, thus significantly older than the 50 year requirement, and have a problem keeping their mouths shut. They’ll always ask questions of the professor that are off topic, or provocative, and get the discussion or lecture way off course. Occasionally the can manage to refrain from this behavior for the duration of a class, only to make up for it the next week by being especially disruptive.
– You may recall that I took a course last semester on the Vietnam War with a woman by the name of Petra Feld. She was irresponsible and humorous at times, and those of us who took that class still maintain that she is an alcoholic. After much debate I have decided to take, or at least attend until I decide it’s no longer necessary, her class on the Civil War that’s being offered this semester. I didn’t attend the first meeting of the class because I hadn’t decided to take it yet, but that class lasted less than 10 minutes because there were far too many people to fit in the assigned room and no way to get anything productive done. No attendence was taken the first week, so it will be no problem for me to jump in this week. She told the class that a reader (why did it take her so long to catch on to such a useful concept?) would be available at a particular copy shop but when we went by right before class on Friday the people working there had never heard of her or her reader. We ate lunch at the mensa and then went off to find the new meeting room for the class. The room was completely empty when we got there and there was a sign on the door saying that due to sickness class was cancelled for the week. The exact same thing happened last semester, with the exception of anyone taking the time to put a sign on the door informing the class of the cancellation. I’ve decided that taking the class won’t be such a bad thing. It’s relatively easy and if she continues this trend of not showing up I will have no complaints.
Now, the best and only legitimate part of the entry: We have an apartment for next year! Kate went yesterday to look at a couple apartments we had talked about and somehow ended up deciding on, and signing a lease for a completely different one. But I’m really excited. It looks like it’s going to be super nice, it’s well located, has a pool (or several), we even have a balcony. I’m really looking forward to living with Kate; I can’t imagine going back to Lovett, having to share a room again, having to put up with the insanity of living on campus. She moves in in a few days, but Dave Blackstock will live there over the summer until I get back and we’ll switch in August. So that works out perfectly. Exciting!!!
– Someone vomited in the stairwell of my building last Saturday night, and it still has not been cleaned up. Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen the cleaning lady in a long time. Maybe she quit.
– Tacos are great. Justin, Liz and I made them for dinner last night and we could have used a little more chicken, but they were delicious. I’m missing Mexican food.
– This university is insane. They moved one of my classes to another room, but when I tried to go to class yesterday it was nowhere to be found. There were other classes meeting in both the old and new rooms.
– I need to remember to water my plants more often. Well, one of them anyhow; the cactus doesn’t need much water, as with the aloe vera. But they’re all happily growing and make my desk a little more festive.
– I haven’t been grocery shopping in maybe 5 days, maybe longer. That’s got to be some sort of record for me in Germany. But that means that today there will be multiple grocery adventures.
– Travelocity has some good deals on airfare. At first glance. But then when you actually try to get specific information you find out that either a) all of the flights are sold out for then entire time period for which they are advertised or b) they may be offering round trip flights from New York to Frankfurt but the particular airline doesn’t actually have service from Frankfurt to NYC, only NYC to Frankfurt. So in both cases I’m left wondering why they advertised something completely useless in the firstplace and why it’s still turning up as a possibility.
This ended up being a pretty busy week. Not for any particular reason, but it seemed that for several days I was only in my room long enough each day to sleep. As a result there are quite a few things that I’ve put off that now really need to be done, but procrastination is a way of life. 😉 I’ve finally been to all of my classes for the semester at least once. The new ones this week had kind of mixed results; some will be interesting, some I’ll just put up with for the necessary amount of time. And there are two that I will not be returning to for whatever reason.
Friday afternoon I took a really long walk through parts of the city that I haven’t really explored until now. I have some nice pictures that I’ll put up here of various parks and random stuff. There are certain things about Frankfurt that I appreciate more all the time and walking around like this reminds me why I like the city.
Last night was Nacht der Museums in Frankfurt. One night a year all of the museums, and a variety of galleries, historical building, the zoo and the Palmengarten are open. With a very inexpensive ticket you have access of all 50 venues from 7 pm to 2 am, and I believe the Palm Garden is open with music until 7 am. All over the place there are stands and restaurants open selling food and drink and there are crowds of people everywhere. It’s a really awesome concept as far as I’m concerned. So we planned to go to that last night and headed downtown. We met up with some people who had just visited the modern art museum and they decided they wanted Burger King before continuing to another museum. I think that’s only the second time I’ve eaten at BK since I’ve been here, and I’ve never been able to bring myself to go to Mc Donalds though I’m told I should. But anyhow, the only things I’d consumed up to that point in the day were alcoholic or chocolate so eating was quite good. Then we went to another art museum but while waiting for people to finish cigarettes four of us decided that we weren’t up for the entire night of museuming and headed off to Sachsenhausen to O’Dwyers pub. So, in the end I didn’t do the museum thing at all. Kind of a shame, but we decided that it would be better to go some day when they weren’t going to be so overly crowded. It was a fun night anyhow.
Today will be a relaxed day of movies and baseball games. Pictures coming soon.
I managed to stay much busier than normal this week and it’s good to have something to occupy my time with, particularly when it’s constructive but I’m not too picky about that. Friday night was a blast. I hung out with Justin, Liz and eventually Khristian. Saturday I was pretty lazy most of the day. Watched TV for a while-very rare-, did some much needed cleaning of my room, and got talked into going shopping with Liz and Justin. We went to just about every store on the Zeil looking for a Go board. It’s some game that Justin is determined to find and only one store had them but they were extremely expensive so I think he’s going to make the trek to Toys ‘R Us. I had meant to go read a new book in the park but those plans were hijacked in favor of the shopping. Maybe today. Last night we went over to LuLa to play pool. What originally was a handful of people hanging out turned into a mid sized party when people kept coming to see what was going on. My normally pathetic pool skills appear to function about like my German skills. They improve under the influence of alcohol to a certain point, and then they’re just awful. But same goes for everyone else’s as well so I actually managed to hold my own fairly well.
In closing I would like to say that Kate rules! And she sends the best mail ever, complete with pictures. Getting cards from her always makes it a good day.
I’m back in Frankfurt. It’s weird, but also a relief to be out of Houston again. I love many things about it, but there was no point to me being there and I was ready to stop wasting time and get on with life. Not that I’m doing anything other than wasting time here these days. I still need to write a paper for a class from last semester that I’ve been putting off, and with the next semester’s classes starting Monday it’s about time for that to happen. I think it’s a bit ironic that I’ve already registered for fall classes at Rice, yet have very little idea what I’m going to take next week. But that’s the joy of study abroad, it doesn’t matter. Only it does now. I don’t intend to worry myself about it though.
It seems that all the girls who lived on my floor moved out while I was at home. I don’t really care because I rarely talked to any of them but I was excited to come back and find the crazy guy who lived next door to me has moved to the other end of the hall. My only hope is that the room stays empty, which I’m sure won’t happen.
Spring has come to Germany. It’s usually in the 50s or 60s during the day. Some days are sunny and beautiful, some days are cloudy, some rainy. The sunny days are nice, and rare here. But I really enjoy the gray cloudy days too, as strange as that sounds. I guess that means Germany is a good place for me to be, there are plenty of them.
As things get started up again here I’ll try to update more regularly; we shall see if that actually happens. But hopefully I’ll get back to the ridiculous stories, and away from the moody complaints. Almost every time you go out in this city something funny happens. It’s just a matter of remembering to tell people about it.
I’m in Houston for the first time in six months and it’s rather strange. Many of the people that I’m used to having around are now gone and that’s kind of sad. And most of the Rice people are out of town this week for Spring Break. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m on Spring Break too. I guess so, but it’s like a 2 month long spring break. So…not really. Anyhow, things seem different around here, as they always do when you’re gone for months on end. More of 59 is underground, my favorite gas station is gone (yes, I had a favorite gas station, but no longer), there are stop signs in places where there didn’t used to be stop signs. Things are different with some of my friends. Some of them are married (scary!!!), looking for jobs in the real world (also very frightening), and doing different things.
On a more positive note, I have new running shoes, and that’s always fun. I’m trying to limit myself to only running every other day coming off a couple months of not running much to avoid re-spraining my ankle and getting shin splints, which are an almost inevitable occurrence when I run. But that’s hard when I have nothing to do all day, and I’m also not allowed to lift weights for the next month while my hand heals. I hate not being active and getting exercise. Oh, that’s more good news. I met with the hand surgeon last week and they’re not going to do surgery any more because my hand is healing properly. I have to wear an annoying brace for the next month and it really limits what I can do with my left arm, but I guess that’s better than surgery AND an annoying brace for a month. The worst part about it is really explaining over and over again to every person who sees it and asks “Oh no, what happened to your arm?”
The thing that I’ve enjoyed doing most since I got home is going to the grocery store. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. In Germany I go almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I don’t have much refrigerator space to store food, they don’t use preservatives so it doesn’t last very long, and it’s a form of entertainment when I’m bored. So I’ve started to really like grocery shopping, even though I hate most kinds of shopping. But it’s so much more fun here in the states where we have giant grocery stores with a huge selection of everything, self-checkout lanes, thunder noises before they spray the veggies in the produce section, and Whole Foods. I was in an HEB in College Station the other day and they had bottles of Volvic water- I drink tons of that water in Germany, it’s the best water ever- in the British Food section. Volvic is actually bottled in France, go figure. But here it costs $2.69 a bottle. More than twice what it costs in Germany, even figuring in the crappy exchange rate. So I don’t think I’ll be buying Volvic water here. I don’t have the Germans’ strange obsession with expensive bottled water. And there’s no Pfand here, which is half the fun.
Alright. On with my day!
Last Wednesday I went to Strausberg, a small town about an hour north of Berlin, for one of the seminars for the German-American clubs. All of the trains leaving Frankfurt were delayed about an hour because George Bush arriving in Frankfurt and going to speak in Mainz. When I finally got to Berlin I met up with a couple other American students and we ate Mexican food at a restaurant near Checkpoint Charlie. I can’t say it was the best I’ve ever had, or anywhere near that, but I’ve been wanting Mexican food for so long that it was well worth being two hours late showing up in Strausberg. The topic of the seminar was Transatlantic relations in the 21st century and though it had high and low points, overall it was a pretty awful 3 days. I don’t mind listening to or reading about politics, provided it’s in a language I can understand, but I really hate talking about politics. Several weeks ago I told the conference coordinator I had to leave Friday night because I was flying home on Saturday. A lie I know, but there were a number of reasons for doing it, and I think had I stayed there two more days I would have gone insane. Yesterday was spent taking care of things that needed to be done before I leave, and spending time with Dave before he leaves. Today I finally did some much needed research on a paper topic for one of my classes so that I’ll sound somewhat knowledgeable when I have a meeting with the professor tomorrow. Tomorrow’s going to be a long day of more errands and saying goodbye. I’m guessing I won’t be sleeping much until I get back home, but that’s not too unusual. I think a group of us are going to the Irish pub tomorrow night for Jesse’s last night so that should be a good distraction. I’m still trying to get used to the idea of going home.
Sorry for the long absence. Technical difficulties and my own distraction are to blame. Cologne was wonderful, as usual. I really didn’t feel like two days was enough, but I rarely feel like I’ve been there long enough. I love that it’s a modern, vibrant city, but there’s history everywhere. And the cathedral… But anyhow, here are a few pictures: the cathedral, a Roman gate, and a duck mosaic from the Roman museum.
The following weekend was Karnival. Wow. It’s like Halloween and Mardi Gras in one. Lots of parades, people in costumes, and on Rose Monday the climax of drunken insanity in the streets is unbelievable. Now I can say I’ve seen Karnival in Germany, and be satisfied with the experience for a long long time. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that every year, at least not in a city I have to live in. My favorite float of all the parades was this LEGO themed one. And then a small taste of what the streets were like.
Classes have finally ended for the semester. I have to write a few papers, which probably won’t be done until I get home, but are still hanging over my head. But basically I have two months off before the next semester starts up. Make that about a month and a half now, time is ticking. Last week was pretty stressful. I won’t go into details, because I really don’t feel like it right now. But I had yet another frustrating experience with the bureauracy of the German government. They seem unable to get their act together, so six months after arriving I still don’t have a student visa or residency permit. But they were able to extend whatever temporary permission I have to be here so leaving and reentering the country will no longer be a problem. And I had another dose of the German health care system last week also. I wasn’t the patient this time, but it’s almost more stressful spending hours in doctor and hospital waiting rooms, waiting for answers about someone you care about than it is when it’s you. The worst of it seems to have blown over for now, but the next week will tell.
I leave a week from tomorrow to head back to Houston for a month and the anticipation is bittersweet. I am looking forward to seeing friends and being home, but I imagine that family life will be a bit tense, as things have been for quite a while with my sister back at home. And my dad, the most reasonable one in much of the mess, will be traveling in the Middle East for the first couple weeks I’m home. As I experienced last time I was away for this long, things change with time. When you are a part of that change you don’t really notice, but being removed from it and then jumping back into life having also changed yourself isn’t an easy thing. And what’s more, it’s not permanent. In a month I’ll be heading back here. That’s my real fear. Getting on a plane next week means leaving so much behind. Things that I’ll never get back. The hardest part about going home will be coming back to Frankfurt knowing that the second half of the year will be completely different from the first half, and I’m not ready to give this up. There are some things that I wanted to accomplish this year that I haven’t yet and next semester will be a good opportunity for that.
Tomorrow I’m going to Köln for the weekend. Which is a very good thing. It’s one of my top two favorite cities in Germany, along with Berlin; and after a stressful, frustrating week I need to get away and do something enjoyable.
After many more hours in doctor’s offices this week they’ve decided that fixing my hand is going to require surgery. Without going into all the details, I’m fed up with the German health care system and after almost 2 months since the injury, there doesn’t appear to be much urgency in having the surgery done. So it’s scheduled for sometime in March while I’m at home. It will make many things much easier, but I’m really bummed that some of the plans I was really looking forward to while I was home (such as backpacking in Big Bend) will probably not be looked very favorably upon by my parents or the doctors right after having had surgery. And I’ll probably have a cast for a month or more. But none of this can be helped now. On the up side, this does give me a good excuse for missing a week of seminars here that I don’t particularly want to attend.
Alright, stories and pictures from Köln coming next week. I’m supposed to meet up with Kevin and go to Hard Rock Cafe tomorrow night, so that should be fun, and interesting. Never a dull moment with him around.