Saturday, October 15, 2011

Foltice Fehlt (Missing)

Our local newspaper here in Borken hit the nail on the head with the headline last week, ‘Foltice Fehlt’ (Foltice missing.)  That has been the story of my life over the last few weeks. 

It all started with the news that my Grandpa Foltice passed away.  After hearing the news on a Friday, I became really homesick for the entire weekend.  It was the first time truly becoming homesick and, after spending a full year in Germany without travelling back to America, it finally hit…hard. 

That Monday afternoon, I received permission from my boss to go to Michigan and booked a flight to Detroit that had me leaving the next afternoon.  Unfortunately, the flight left so early in the morning out of Düsseldorf that I had to spend the night in Düsseldorf the night before (trains don’t go out that early in the morning.)   Monday evening, after running home and packing, I was on a train to Düsseldorf.

Fast forward to Tuesday night, after 23 hours of travel, I found myself in Byron Center, Michigan, trying to remember which townhome is my brother’s girlfriend’s house is.  I made 3 guesses, all of them wrong, to which house was hers.  At 11pm, I am sure I was an instant hit with the neighbors.  My brother finally heard my voice through an open window and let me in.

Most of my week was spent either with family or doing work at various Biggby Coffee shops around town.  I was still able to get a lot of work done on their free WiFi Internet while drinking a lot of their strong coffee.  Between the jet lag, busy schedule, and sleep deprivation, the rest of the week was kind of a blur. 

Sunday afternoon, I was back on a plane to Düsseldorf.  I landed in Germany at 8am on Monday morning after the ‘red eye’ flight from Detroit.  I took the train directly to Münster and went straight to work.  I made it back to Borken late in the afternoon on Monday and somehow got to basketball practice on time at 8pm. 

I tried to see Dana and Dylan as much as possible over the next 2 days, because on Thursday, I was back on a plane to Münich (Regensburg) for the German Finance Conference. 


More Regensburg

Regensburg was beautiful (about 1 hour south of Münich) and the conference was very interesting.  By the end of the conference, I noticed that all of the young (and female) student assistants would blush and smile when I would walk past them.  I thought, for a moment, maybe by comparison to other finance academics, that they thought I was cute. 

I was quickly reminded that, on Friday night, as we were heading into a meeting, I said in German to one of the assistants holding a sign close to the entrance, ‘I am getting warm.’  As in, her sign was helping me get warmer to the ultimate hiding place.  ‘Red Hot!’ ‘Red Hot!’ ‘You’re on fire!’

What I didn’t know was that ‘I am getting warm’ to a German is a highly sexual phrase that I would rather not elaborate too much on it.  Apparently, that comment was passed on and that’s why they would blush/laugh at me. 
I missed the first basketball game of the season on Saturday night.  Both teams (the team that I play for and the team that I coach) ended up winning, though the team I play for had to forfeit the game due to a 'clerical' error.  Evidently, one of our players wasn't registered with the league, so we had to forfeit our win. 
Sunday morning, we left Regensburg and tried to take the train back to Münich.  The train was so full of Oktoberfest revelers (it was the last day of Oktoberfest) that we couldn’t even step onto the train and were forced to share a taxi (there were 8 of us) to get to Münich.   Although it was more expensive to take the taxi, about 25 Euros each, it was a much more comfortable ride compared to the packed train of already drunk people. 

We made it to Münich in time for our Oktoberfest tent reservation.  One of my colleagues reserved a table for us from 11am to 3pm in one of the tents,  (die Armbrustschützenzelt) or ‘crossbow shooting’ tent, to be exact.  4 hours was more than enough to capture the Oktoberfest mood and I was happy that we weren’t there for any longer.  We made it back to the train station just in time to pick up our luggage and get on the direct train to Münster within one minute of its departure. 

Heading into the 'Cross-Bow Tent'


For some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to ride the really high swings.   At least I was able to take a good  picture. 

Heading out on the way to the train station

Overall, I was pleased that Oktoberfest was not totally a tourist trap, overrun with drunk American tourists.  Although it wasn’t nearly as fun as Karnival in Cologne, it was still a good experience to do one time (for four hours).

Sunday night at 11:55pm, we arrived in Münster.  Monday was ‘German Unification Day’ so the first bus that ran from Münster to Borken wasn’t until 10 am.    Finally, around noon, I made it home to Borken to see Dana and Dylan.  I think Dana was just as exhausted as me after the last two weeks of taking care of Dylan without a break.

Since then, we’ve gotten back into somewhat of a routine (that involves me in some capacity) and life is back to normal…(well, as normal as it possibly could be, all things considered.) 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

German Children's Books Are Weird

What's going on with the cow and the goat?

I got this book for Dylan at the library so he can learn both the English and German names for animals.  We were going through the farm animals and Dylan said "P-U moo-moo-cow!" I said to him "Yes, Dylan.  Moo-moo-cows can be stinky." And he said "No Mommy, P-U moo-moo-cow!" and he pointed to the cow's rear end where it is clearly peeing.  We had the same conversation about the goat.  The German children's books certainly don't gloss over the details about bodily functions, especially with farm animals.