Tue, 6 Mar 2001

My friend Mary back in Austin wrote this:
I told Erica about the red bike and so now we
are both picturing you commuting to work on
this wonderful German girly bike, bundled up
with scarf trailing behind, hair under cap
with strands flying out in the wind, getting
to work with red nose and bright eyes....

You know, except for the scarf, this is, indeed, what it's like!! I love my bike. I wish the U.S. was more bike friendly. It's a lot of fun to ride, and people respect bike riders here.

It's weird riding a bike in a skirt. But other German women do it. Heck, I saw a nun today doing it. Some skirts are going to be too tight and I'm going to have to change after I get here. But so far, so good.

My tiny Berlitz "German Phrase Book & Dictionary," bought for about $2 at Half Price Books in Austin, Texas, is my best friend here, other than the dogs. It has the all important phrases as well as a weights and measures conversion chart and a small map of Germany. If it had a guide to road signs, it would be perfect. I don't say the words much -- it's just so helpful when I'm trying to figure out the name of a store. Or what to point to on the menu.

And thank god/Buddha/Isis/whatever for the Internet. There's this guy in Cleveland that archived his Americana radio shows from June through August on his web site in Real Audio. It means I actually get to hear stuff outside of my own CD collection! Now if I can just find more archived Americana shows. And, ofcourse, I listen to a lot of KUT -- the overnight show is my morning show.

I'm really trying to get into the whole German thing, I swear... but neither the music nor the food (except for beer and chocolate) really float my boat.

Last Wednesday night -- my first attempt at organizing a social outing -- was a lot of fun. My Irish co-worker and co-organizer showed up after all, but I was 30 minutes late, even though I got to downtown Bonn 15 minutes early -- I wanted plenty of time to find the place. I got ever so lost!! I wandered around for 45 minutes. First I asked directions at this hotel, and the guy did pretty well, but when I started down the street he told me to, it looked so dark, and it curved, and I couldn't see anything at the end of it... so I went back and walked into this neighborhood bar. There were all these old guys, one with a dog, at the bar. I stood there and looked at them, they looked at me, and I said, "Quiet Man?" They all perked right up. "Yah! Yah!" and started pointing and speaking in German. It was funny.

The Quiet Man is a GREAT pub! They were playing REM, the food was pretty good, and the Guinness... heavenly!! I stole a poster out of the bathroom. And still got home by 11:30.

Can I just tell you how much I friggin' miss the Damn "X-Files"?! I'm getting a VCR this weekend or next, and hoping tapes start arriving!

We were off Monday for the Islamic Holiday Eid Al-Adha -- which no one has explained to me. When I got off for Jewish holidays in New York, someone would always explain to me what they were and what they meant. I like to know these things!

Saturday, I went over to a friend's. We ate and watched tapes of "Fraiser," which her father makes for her and sends from Argentina. There, they don't dub American shows -- they subtitle them. Here in Germany, just the opposite, which means it's kinda hard to watch... but it helps me learn German, I guess.

Monday, since it was a holiday for my office but not for most of Germany, I decided to get a lot of errands done. I went to the grocery, I found the big main pet store in town and bought dog food, I tried to buy a cell phone (I can't until I have something that shows my address here in Bonn, like a bill or something), and then I made the daring trip by myself to downtown Bonn on the train. I walked all over town. I bought a tea pot from this really wonderful Chinese lady who was so thrilled to get to speak English (heard all about her daughter, who is studying to be a heart doctor in Houston, and about how Germans still don't accept this woman even though she's lived there 35 years); bought a really beautiful calendar with primitive Australian drawings on it at this way cool import store (that you would totally dig); and bought a ton of postcards.

There's one TV channel that's always in English -- BBC World. It's good for about an hour a day. Then the stories all are repeated over and over and over. They also repeat the exactly the same shows week after week, which is really annoying. CNN International is in English most of the time, but they have way too much financial news, IMO. Plus, watching endless news gets really boring. Sometimes I get lucky and there's an English show or American movie on that's been subtitled rather than dubbed. And sometimes, I feel adventurous and watch some German TV, usually dubbed versions of American movies and TV shows. Like the "X-Files" (Mulder and Skinner's voices are right on the money, but Scully sounds like a dominatrix). Or "The Simpsons" (Homer says "Die-ee" instead of "Doh!"). German TV has a cheaper looking version of Wheel of Fortune (complete with a really cheap-looking letter turning woman). They also have their own version of "Jerry Springer" -- German white trash. Who knew?

I'm in love with Craig Doyle, host of "Holiday" on BBC World. It's a show that goes on location to all these great vacation spots. Craig, my new boyfriend, is Irish, with very dark hair and a smile that makes me melt. He kind of struts around the hotels and lovely locations in these very casual clothes, reviewing the areas and comparing them to what you read about them in brochures.

Today, the sun is shining! It's like a whole different place when there is sun!

More later . . .

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