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Monday, December 22, 2008

Life Recapped: Visit from Christine

Christine is a former “student” of mine – that is, during that 4 month span or so when I taught German to 8th graders at my former high school. I inspired her so much (at least that’s what I tell myself) that she decided to participate in the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program after graduating from high school this year.

You may recall CBYX as the program that sponsored my year in hell (Dresden). I’m of two minds about the program. On the one hand, it’s probably the most inexpensive way to study in Germany for a year, since it covers the bulk of your expenses (travel stipend + either room & board from a host family or food stipend & rent if you live on your own). On the other hand, the organizations that oversee the program are (by and large) completely unorganized. This sucks because the exchange program could be so much more, but there are so many incompetent asshats that hinder the program from being anything but mediocre. Still, if you’re kind of financially challenged, then it’s okay I guess…which is probably why people continue to recommend it. It’s cheap.

Anyway, Christine is doing CBYX this year and not too long ago she wrote me about some of the problems she was having. They were mostly of the culture shock/new in Germany variety, so I basically encouraged her to just give it her best shot. And if that didn’t work, harass the program coordinators. And, lastly, if she needed some fun – come to Hamburg and I would entertain her.

So she did. And it was fun. However, I’m not able to keep up with an 18-year-old who is apparently hangover-resistant. I took her on Raven’s Guided Tour of the Reeperbahn. This basically consists of:

1.) Starter beer from that kiosk near ‘Crazy Jeans’
2.) Hans-Albers-Platz to look at hookers and drink beer
3.) Walking by Herbertstrasse and explaining what that is
4.) 99-cent-bar
5.) Esso
6.) Drinking beer on those useless stages with the pretty lights on the Spielbudenplatz
7.) Hamburger Berg for Mexikaners
8.) Hesburger or Döner
9.) Home

The Mexikaner is somewhat key and I give my guests the option of “better quality Mexikaner” (Lunacy, which is usually packed) or “more entertaining atmosphere” (Villa Runter Bunt, which is usually less packed but is frequented by some of the friendliest transgender people on the Hamburger Berg – something amazing is almost always guaranteed to happen).

The evening we were there, Christine and I were chatted up by an older gentleman who reminded me of Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but in a creepy kind of “Hello little girl, I have candy inside my van”-type of way.

We were rescued by a JuJu the Barfly, who was (no bullshit) kind of basically just a barfly-slash-new mother of triplets. She showed us pictures of the 4-week-old babies, bought us a few rounds, and invited us across the street to bar that I’ve personally been afraid to step into called Zum Goldenen Handschuh.

At some point during this time, JuJu invited us to her house for brunch to meet the triplets, as well as to be her new BFFs 4 LIFE! Of course, this sounded like a great idea at the time. Around 6am, however, it was time to pack it in. I went to the bathroom one last time and when I came out, I discovered that I forgot that my beloved green hoodie was still on the bar stool.

JuJu had grabbed it for me, but told me she wouldn’t give it back until I came over for brunch. I quickly checked my jacket pocket for my ID case, money and apartment keys – and feeling that everything was there. I parted ways with my beloved hoodie and headed home.

Unfortunately, JuJu informed me that one of the triplets was sick on Sunday, so we had to cancel those particular plans. Also...I haven't heard from her since and I really miss that hoodie.

But sometimes you just have to let things go, I suppose.

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