Monday, August 25, 2008

Becky's Very Interesting Afternoon

I worked a typical shift today- early-morning to mid-day. Because we were reasonably busy, I felt completely drained after work. I decided to have lunch at Chili's, since I get a discount there (at least we have some employee perks). After a very filling salad, I tackled my twice-daily nemesis- driving the manual home. Ugh. I keep telling myself that I'm getting better, but after I've parked and I really consider the truth, I wonder if I'll EVER be able to drive this car the right way! On the way home today, for example, I stalled several times and almost hit two cars. In my defense, neither driver used a turn signal and therefore I found it hard to adjust my own maneuvers. Anyway, I feel really embarrassed every time I peel out. People keep telling me that it's normal, but I'm pretty used to picking new things up quickly. I'm going to mark the sixth month in my calendar; Kara told me to give it six months, to be fair to myself. At that point, I'll take a good look at my driving. Maybe I won't really have to; maybe then I'll already be good. I hope so!

When I finally got home, I made it to the third floor landing and the fire alarm started going off. Well, I know this is bad but I wasn't about to leave without my dog when I was nine steps away from my door and there was no smoke. (Don't worry, I felt my own door for heat, just in case.) So I grabbed the dog and her leash and hightailed it out of my building. No one seemed to be very interested in the fact that the alarms were going off, but all I was thinking of was making sure everything was okay, no one was hurt or in trouble. So I called Germany's version of 911- that's 112, in case you need to know- for the first time. What a surprise, the operator spoke almost no English. So I was able to convey the fact that a fire alarm was going off on a military base, and they transferred my call. Strangest emergency call in my life. The American dispatcher could see that the alarm was going in our building, so they sent a truck. During this time on the phone, I was walking Maggie around in the grass. Well, I came back to the front of my building, just in time I see two housing workers telling another girl that it was safe to enter, they were just testing the alarms. OH! MAYBE SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE POSTED THAT! So I could hear the fire truck's sirens blaring the entire way here. I was so embarrassed! I called emergency for an alarm test! Here is a photo of the scene from my apartment...

At least someone called! I mean, if it hadn't been a test after all and I'd just assumed, awful things could have happened! I felt silly and the Germans were all laughing at me, which was not unlike the time in Vienna that my roommate and I called the gas company to "fix the gas"... which was simply shut off at the valve. One firefighter told me "now you must pay big moneys! HAHA!" But when he saw the alarm on my face, he told me he was kidding. Whew!

Sometimes, when I have chaotic days, I look at nice photos and I feel better. Here's a new one. Take care!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Obviously I've been busy, or I would have updated this blog a week ago! After six long, painfully-unemployed months, I'm finally a member of the workforce once again. I'm making "individually handcrafted" drinks at the new coffee shop at the Enlisted Club. So far, so good! Mostly I'm thankful to be out of my apartment sometimes, to have a way to meet people and earn some extra money. Coffee is not my career choice, but it's kind of nice to know that I've developed a skill that can be a side job at any time in my life. Thanks to 7th Street Starbucks for my education. :o)

Along those lines, it looks like we'll be keeping Josh's Honda. It's going to be too much hassle for both of us to work with only one car. If his schedule were more average we could probably figure something out. As it stands, we need the car at conflicting times. The vicious cycle begins- you want a job, so you need a car, and then you need your job to keep the car. I hate cars so much. In the end, I hate being unemployed more, so we'll own two cars.

Like so many others, we've been enjoying various Olympic competitions. We have yet to catch the gymnastics! Mostly, we've watched water sports- swimming, diving, water polo, and lots of rowing. I caught some of the equestrian events; Germany took a gold medal in one division. We also saw that GREAT basketball game between the US and Spain! I've never been very interested in sports, so watching Kobe for the first time was really eye-opening for me. He is an incredible athlete! So fast! So good a slam dunking! Did I mention, fast?! I actually enjoyed that game, especially the first half, when the score was very close.

Speaking of the Olympics, my little brother (Tim) looks like Phelps!


My brother.

Well, I swear he looks more like Phelps than this picture makes it seem. They have very different noses, but Tim tends to let his hair get all messy, and he looks older now (the photo of him is from last December).

Maggie is finally getting to run free over here, thanks to a few friends with backyards. She's also getting to be more socialized with other dogs. It's so great to see her running around at full speed (and gosh, is she fast!), chasing sticks and digging holes and being a hound. She's also much more vocal about things now; she's been barking on and off the entire time I've been typing. She doesn't get the "mom's working" concept. It's all about her, all the time. :o)
Here, she's getting some help before a walk. We've also discovered that she HATES to be wet, and I don't just mean after a bath. She and I have been stuck in a few rain showers during walks, and I've never seen her so angry with me! Being wet is obviously not cool.

I can't think of anything else to write, so I'll stop. If Josh has something to share, he'll do it soon. Take care!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Learning to Say NO -- Again.

Wow! I got the latest copy of the Wooster alumni magazine today, and to my surprise, my blog URL was listed in the Class of 2006 updates! Sadly, the information I recall submitting was not included (the fact that I've moved, my wedding photo, etc.); however, if you're joining because you found the site in the magazine, welcome! I hope you'll stop by periodically. If anyone has suggestions for topics they'd enjoy learning about- German customs in this region or daily cultural experiences, for example- please make a suggestion in the comments section!

Today I'll record one major linguistic difference that I notice on a daily basis. When I learned German in Austria (according to the Germans I learned "Austrian"), and when I continued my studies in the classrooms of Herr Figge and Professor Mullner, I was consistently told to decline by saying "nein". Of course, to have "no" as in "nothing" is a different word altogether, but if I didn't want to marry the man following me down the street I could tell him NEIN. If I hadn't completed my excessively long homework assignment, nein- ich hab' keine Antwort.

Things are different here.

It's a small difference, but goodness, it threw me off track for a while. I expected to arrive in my new home and at least be able to manage a negative reply. Nope. I mean, "ne". Like a horse neighing. Everyone here says "ne" constantly! At first I didn't understand- where did "nein" go? I checked the dictionaries and "ne" is not listed. It's a regional idiom, I'm assuming. I've found that I say it now, even when I'm talking to friends in English I'll change my usual "no" or "nah" into a subtle-but-firm NE. Try it out, you might like it.

Of course I'll continue my observations and let you all know if it's used more widely than the Rhineland-Pfalz. Perhaps some readers have personal experience with NE? I'm sure you're dying to know its roots. I know I am. ;o)