Tag Archives Germany

Modern Protestantism

Posted on 1 min read

I thought the culture I was raised in was a five-hundred-year-old version of Protestant restraint and silence, which at the best of times can be described as deeply personal. For all the baggage I drag around, I did often like it, as it was decidedly non-formulaic. But now I wonder how much of that culture is actually a modern version of Nietzche in which we are constantly trying to overcome ourselves (and when it gets ugly, a bastardized version in which we try to overcome others). I thought the Catholics were supposed to be the ones wrestling with guilt? …

59 Minutes in Germany – Flash Fiction

They said I need a union What union An electrician’s union To install a light fixture I guess Why don’t you do it yourself I don’t know how, do you No… my father did it I look over at my daughter. She’s icing her shin, her leg propped up on a chair. Two neighbor girls sing to her in German. I need to go to the bank before it closes It’s 3-37 Yeah You won’t have much time I have to try. Can you watch her It’s no problem I listen to the singing and push open the door without understanding a word. I try to run and lurch down …

The Day After

Posted on 2 min read

I woke up hoping to find a new perspective, that things would seem more optimistic with sleep and the light of morning. Instead the mental vomit continues, now seeping into my extremities. I knock over a carton of milk, and walked into a doorway, my body refusing to work. There’s static in all of me: my mind, my fingers, and I’m so exhausted, but I can’t fall asleep. At the Munich airport I try to board a flight to New York. They tell me I’m at the wrong gate. I stare at them glazed, on the verge of tears, until I realize what they’ve said. I run across the gates …

Court

Posted on 1 min read

The feelings in preparing to walk into a court hearing are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. As a I sit outside the door, waiting to be ushered in, there’s a screaming in my ears so that I can’t hear or think of anything else besides what’s rushing towards me. And yet everyone and everything in the room is silent and austere. Not having control over your relationship with your child makes you feel like a caged animal, penned in and frantic. For me, it manifests in blistering headaches and a state of mild, but near constant, unease. Like I’m trying to sprint on gravel. And yet as upset or desperate …

Not Enough

Posted on 1 min read

I cry on most of the flight home and I don’t know why. Not weeping, just eyes watering, falling on the pages of the book I’m trying to read, or caught subtly in my sleeve. I can’t say for certain why it’s so hard for me. This isn’t a new trip for me. But this time it feels different. There are realizations that come to me now. Facts and realities that I didn’t know existed, and that I don’t know how to confront. I’ve felt frustrated for a long time. But now in seeing her, it goes beyond my own frustration, and verges into pain… and with pain naturally comes …

Where We Come From

Posted on 1 min read

My hotel, the Schloss Wilkenhedge, is a “water castle”, which is a small castle surrounded by a moat in the countryside. After dinner, usually around 9 or 10, while the sunset is still intense, I go for a walk through the forest near the hotel. The trees in the forest are tall and thin, stretching a hundred feet in the air, and remind me of the trees in the parks that surround Portland. There’s a road through the forest that’s heavily trafficked, and as I walk the road I imagine if a car were to jump the curve (which isn’t a curve, but a painted line) and were to punch …

German Child Services

Posted on 1 min read

I’m sweating through my jeans in a hallway in Germany. I’m alone in the hallway, there’s an empty wooden chair to my right. I came here unannounced, and they’ve stuck me out here because they don’t know what to do with me. The corridor is thin and lined with rooms. I can hear voices come out rooms, I’m assuming talking on the telephone, but I can’t see anyone. It’s all sound and white walls and stale air. A little girl’s voice comes from a room on my left. “Hallo mama.” It sounds like my daughter when she was three. For a moment I forget where I am and think it …

My Muscle Memory

Posted on 3 min read

I’ve made the trip to Germany so many times, that the whole process has become akin to muscle memory. I board in the late afternoon in Denver, and fly to either Frankfurt or Munich (depending on the day). I work for the first couple hours and watch a movie when the meal is served. If I can sleep for a couple of hours in the short fly-through night, that’s a victory. I spend the last hour staring listlessly at the seat in front of me or the other confused passengers, as breakfast is served, and morning bursts through the raised windows. There are no thoughts, and I focus on not …

German Sarcasm

Posted on 1 min read

I watch the table in front of me bark orders at the waiter. He scrambles backwards into the kitchen. After he’s done filling their requests, he circles to my table. He bends over to clear the plate in front of me. I’ve eaten everything, there’s barely any indication that there was food on the plate. “How was the meal?” he asks, in clear English. “Terrible. I want my money back,” I respond jokingly, before I can realize where I am. A look, not of horror, but resignation crosses his face. Shit. My mind goes to an Economist article that talked about the difficulty in conveying sarcasm in Germany. “I’m kidding, …

Munsterland

Posted on 1 min read

Every time I open the door, I’m drawn to pictures of someone else’s life. An AirBnB, they’re everywhere in the apartment: friends posing, drinking, celebrating, mostly all young attractive girls. Oddly, none of the pictures are of the boyfriend who let me into the flat. All of the pictures are hung high on the walls so that they hit me almost exactly at eye level. There are so many, I have to start taking them down so that I don’t become depressed by comparison. It’s the same reason I rarely go on Facebook. It’s an idealized life, and one that can’t be reconciled with my current situation. Other than the …