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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

With friendly greetings

I've been back from my trip to Dresden for over a week and I'm just now getting around to updating. I've been battling a serious case of writer's block -- or what Jay Smooth refers to as the "little hater" that lives in your head -- for at least the last six months (at least). It basically stems from some personal (read: bureaucratic/immigration-annoying-as-hell) issues that I don't want to delve into on my blog (but are nevertheless overshadowing my life at the moment) and the overall feeling that I've lost focus of what my blog is about in the first place (namely to distract myself from such annoyances, by making fun of them...all while keeping friends/family updated with my life, because I suck at keeping in touch with people).

However, every post that I attempt to write seems to veer off into this kind of "Here's another weird thing that Germans do"- post. Sure, I live in that's like, you know, a major influence on my life right now. However, there's this new verb I learned recently -- verallgemeinern -- and it means "to generalize". And making generalizations (in writing) about what it's like as a US-American living in the Deutschland is not something I really want to do. First off, there are blogs that do it much better. Second, as demonstrated by the blog's name and "logo" -- a majestic raven perched atop the silhouette of the castle-thingy from the Hamburg coat of arms and surrounded by either paint or poop splatters (I'll leave it to your imagination) -- I guess this is all just supposed to be me talking shit about where ever I happen to be living at the moment. It could have just as easily been a majestic raven crapping on the silhouettes of a pioneer dude shaking hands with a Native American, as pictured on the Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma.

This is the "long story short" way of reiterating that I'm writing about personal experiences that might bear, at best, a passing resemblance to the typical life of a foreigner in Germany. It's also more of a reminder to myself, rather than to anyone reading this.

So here's some crap that's been in my head.

Since entering into a long-distance relationship, my "vacations" aren't really vacations at all. Yes, I don't have to go to work and I get to spend time in another city -- but it's not really the same when you go on vacation and stay in a hotel/motel/Holiday Inn and/or hostel. For one thing, I don't keep a spare toothbrush, loofah or spare socks/underwear at every hotel on the planet. Once you start a stockpile of personal affects at someone else's house, your guest privileges/tourist pass are pretty much revoked.

In the past six months -- out of financial reasons (on my side) and educational reasons (on his) -- Frosty and I have only managed to visit each other twice. Each visit roughly a week long. For the time being, we've traded shorter, more frequent meetings with longer, less frequent ones. The math works out to be about the same though. And my math is flawless, believe that.

The hardest part about a long-distance relationship (note: I don't have many qualms with the distance part) is that first night when you're back together after being separated. There's the awesome part where you see each other again, but then later it's like you have to learn all over again how to share a bed. When I'm by myself, I love to take up as much space on the mattress as humanly possible. Unfortunately, Frosty is the same way and we end up spending the first night back together trying to pretend that we're both equally considerate of each other's sleeping habits. However, in a mid-sleep-blanket-tug-o-war, he usually gets the upper hand (which can be squarely blamed on my lack of trying to accomplish things while asleep). The first night's sleep is pretty shitty, but it's not something that can't be overcome.

The second hardest part (which is something that I actually have to deal with before I get to the hardest part, go figure) is deciding how I'm going to actually travel to get to Frosty. The problem is effectively eliminated in the instances where he comes to Hamburg -- because I don't care as long as he gets here (safely and in one piece). He usually opts for a so-called Mitfahrgelegenheit, which translates"passenger opportunity"(?) in English. And you might think, well any mode of travel in which you're riding as a passenger in some type of vehicle is like an opportunity to be a passenger. But in a much larger sense, it refers to the opportunity to be a passenger...with a stranger.

It's a step up from hitchhiking, because it's pre-arranged via a type of ride board (like rideshare on Craigslist). And, in my personal opinion, a step down from say...taking a cross-country trip via Greyhound bus. Definitely nestled somewhere in between the two, it's like taking a road trip with complete strangers that you'll (probably) never see again once you get to your destination (or ever again), but in more confined space of a car.

Sure, you can get from one end of the country to the other for the price of a really expensive taxi ride from one end of Hamburg to the other... but there's that catch where even though people say they just want the extra money to pay for gas...they really kind of want the company for the ride. A drastic and completely unplausible comparison would be if you paid a commericial airline pilot $175 for a ticket from Hamburg to Oklahoma City that would have normally cost $700...but you have to sit up in the cockpit with the pilot the whole time and keep him company, but not as a navigator or something know...just to tell him your life story and listen to his. Also this pilot is the least interesting person on the face of the planet.

In my mind, in this scenario paying the $525 extra to avoid this form of personal torture would be more than worth it. And that, in a nutshell, is kind of what I think about the Mitfahrgelegenheit.

Alas, I cannot afford the decadence that is travelling by train right now. Train travel has become very expensive in Germany and low-budget airlines have limited routes in-country. So, road trip of the damned, it is.

On the way to Dresden, I drove for 6 hours with a chatty driver with a thick, nearly unintelligible Saxony accent, who found a way to relate everything anyone else said to the six months she spent studying in South Africa; a marketing guy (originally from in Dresden, but now in Hamburg) who spent equal amounts of time bashing Hamburg and applying the lessons learned about the U.S. (based on a two week trip to L.A.); and a couple, both 18-years-old and annoyingly smiley and optimistic about their first romantic weekend away together.

On the way back, the driver was a dude from Dresden, who (when one of the passenger's cancelled) made it known that he didn't like to offer rides to passengers who couldn't speak "proper German", but that he didn't have anything against foreigners and was very "open-minded" while muttering racial epithets against other drivers on the highway (who I guess drove cars that he didn't like / looked like they were of different ethnicities). And the other dude was like straight edge...he was kind of cool, I guess, but I didn't talk to him. I let him sit up front, at any rate, and tried to doze off while I thought about how much I missed my favorite person (Frosty) and place (Hamburg).


Anonymous said...

uhum, I've been using the with-drive-opportunity for years to get here and there and never had a bad experience...

Anonymous said...

You're wrong Brooks. I'm going to find you with my with-drive-opportunity minions and cut you!

lebrookski said...

"uhum, I've been using the with-drive-opportunity for years to get here and there and never had a bad experience..."

... could it be because you're 1.) a dude & 2.) a dude with shaved head? i dunno...just saying...

Frahws Tee said...

Hab gerade geheckt, wieso du das Bild auswähltest hahahahahaha Niiice

Anonymous said...

are you tryin' to say I AM the bad experience?
...there's gonna be some cutting, I can feel it...