Friday, February 10, 2012

Friends in 25 Days

I was about to edit an entry I hadn't finished a couple days ago, but instead I found this one still in my "drafts".  Why I never posted it, I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with everything that was going on at the time.  It was 2009, and I was about to get my MBA...I was about to leave Blue Man Group, a job that I had always wanted...and I was about to leave Northeastern, a job that I enjoyed, but more so afforded me the further luxuries of being a musician by providing that financial stability that seems to be lacking in too many of our lives.

"Sometimes...no, all the time, it's great to know that you have good friends. I think my friends are pretty decent. They know exactly when to pick me up, and exactly how to show their support. While I don't think it's possible to be a great friend all the time, I think it's important to be a really great friend at least SOME of the time. These are the times that stick out in the minds of anyone to whom you are a friend. They will remind that person that you are a great person to have a beer with. You are a great person to talk about your job with. You are a great person to seek advice from regarding your dreams. You, above all, are just fun!

I am now 25 days from leaving Boston, foreseeably forever, and I am finding it harder and harder to cope with the fact that I have built 10 years of my life around this place. And now, I will be leaving it behind, with hopes for greener pastures...with hopes of fulfilling that "rite of passage" that all musicians must take...the inevitable trip to Los Angeles. Whether I'm successful or not, I know I must do this just to try it, if for nothing else. But...I love my friends here. I will miss all that they do for me. I will miss their laughter and I will miss the..."

And, that last sentence portrays perfectly how I still feel about Boston.  Like I have some unfinished business there.  I do not regret my decisions since then, and without having taken this giant step I may have never realized that Germany makes more sense for my heart.  But, I hope someday to return...and I still miss you all!

Damion

Friday, January 27, 2012

After a long silence...

In June 2011, I finished my 6.5 month contract with Norwegian Cruise Lines and returned to München.  At the start of July, I jumped back into German studies, continuing with a B2.1 course at Goethe Institut after last completing a B1.2 course in November of 2010.  Luckily, I did not have to repeat any courses at Goethe Institut, even though I tested into B1.1 level upon my return.  The first day of B1.1 class, I found that we were moving so slowly, and though things were rusty for me, I still needed quite a bit more from my studies than to be repeating the same things I learned the previous fall.  I spoke to the teacher after class and indicated that even though I had only tested into B1.1, it was all coming back to me rather quickly and I said that I was too "Anspruchsvoll" (demanding) to sit through all of that again.  I suggested that I jump to B1.2, but to my surprise, the next day I was placed into B2.1.  It certainly proved to be demanding enough...but I was also glad that I had essentially saved 2400 Euro (the cost of B1.1 & B1.2 together) and two additional months of rehash.

From there, things progressed rather quickly.  I completed B2.1, then hopped to B2.3 the next month, presumably at the request of my teacher (since this kind of thing only LOSES money for the school, in principle).  B2.1 & B2.3 were easily the most worthwhile courses I took at Goethe.  My teachers for B2.1 & B2.3 could speak several languages and taught us quite a bit about the origin of the words and phrases we were using...as opposed to teaching just the direct translation.  They also pushed us to write quite a bit, and in B2.3 I had the opportunity to give my first speech in German (granted, it was not pretty...).

It was now September, and paying for classes at Goethe was getting costly.  We looked for alternatives schools, and I found a decent one at Alinguas, right on Hohenzollernplatz where we live.  The cost to attend Alinguas was about 1/3 of Goethe, and I truly only needed to practice my speech in order to prepare for the upcoming "Goethe Zertifikat-B2" test near the end of the month.  This test is the language level that one must attain in German in order to work in a business setting here.  I took two weeks of additional B2.2 level at Alinguas (they didn't offer B2.3 or C1.1) and it proved to help me speak quite often, for the simple reason that the class size was usually 5 people, as opposed to 12-15 at Goethe Institut.

The day of the "Goethe Zertifikat-B2" test fell on the first day of Oktoberfest.  In fact, before we took the 3-hour test (listening, reading comprehension, writing), the administrator pointed out that various beer brewers in the area were already parading down Sonnenstraße.  Enormous, beautiful horses carted the seasonal brew behind them, and these floats were usually flanked by the brewer's own fest-band, outfitted in Lederhosen and Dirndl, playing traditional music.  And all right outside our test-room window.  Believe me, it was hard to concentrate.

There are just a few times in my life that I recall the feeling of utter defeat, after wanting something so badly, and further thinking that it just wasn't meant to be...that I would probably have to wait to achieve this goal.  This sense stems from being so excited to have the opportunity, to finally be doing this, and then after it's over, feeling totally beaten by the experience...and that sense of helplessness that comes with not knowing the outcome.  Annette met me after the test, and we walked home together. Though I kept saying "it was so bad...I don't want to talk about it," I found myself systematically rationalizing my answers with her, seeking her approval on what I could remember from the test.  I don't know why people bother doing this, because with me, I only focused on the fact that I had answered some questions incorrectly, and I felt further defeated.  I was sure I hadn't passed, based on the weakness of my essay alone.

Three days later, I checked the results at Goethe Institut, and I had in fact passed, further earning the chance to complete the verbal test the next day (if you don't pass the written exam, then you are not offered the verbal exam).  I passed the Goethe Zertifikat-B2 exam the next day, with my best subject being writing (huh?) and my worst subject being listening comprehension (I took offense to that...I think I'm a decent listener, but I'm just going to chalk that one up to the distractions of the oom-pah bands!)

The last time I felt like I had failed something so badly, but came away with a win in the end, was when I tried out for Blue Man Group in 2005.  Everything went great, until the last audition.  I thought I totally blew it, and when I came outside the theater Annette was again right there waiting for me.  I almost immediately broke into tears, as I explained that the world had crumbled upon me when the pressure was on.  We caught a movie that night to put my mind at ease, and I went through the whole next week at my job, one of those terrible recruiting call-centers, second guessing every little thing I did in the audition.  Eventually, I got the call at work, that I got the gig.  I can still remember that feeling of vindication, for all the hard work I had put into drumming all those years, and that was exactly how I felt when I passed the Goethe Zertifikat-B2 exam...finally, I had something to show for the many months of learning the difference between Akkusativ and Dativ!

The reason I'm thinking about all this again is that yesterday, I had one of those chances that can truly make a difference in your life.  Again, it was one of those "tests" that we all face quite regularly where you think "man...this could make or break me."  I had an interview with Boston Consulting Group, at their international office on Ludwigstraße here in München.  BCG is one of the "big players" and getting an interview there is not to be taken lightly.  They are known worldwide as one of the top 3 management consulting firms, with Bain and McKinsey rounding out the group, interchangeably.  Typically, they hire Harvard, MIT, Northwestern MBA types for their consultants, and from what I understand, competition is pretty fierce.  Let's put it this way:  An MBA, 2-3 years into the job at one of these three, will make at least $120-180 K/yr.  Now, I am not aiming at being a consultant, so what's the big deal, right?  Well, BCG also happens to be the #2 company to work for out of the Fortune 500.  Employees rave about this place, and it has ranked in the top 15 for seven years straight.  To me, it's just one place I could possibly get a job at in Germany, out of the many places which I've applied to, which hires people with good Englischkenntnisse (English knowledge).  But, it's more than that after one knows its pedigree...

So, I go into this interview thinking, "great, they like that I don't have a typical background for a job candidate...an MBA who has 1) studied Marketing 2) played drums for Blue Man Group, 3) worked on a cruise ship, 4) now communicates in German at a C1 level."  It is not off the wall to be invited by BCG with such a background, as they seek "out of box" thinkers for their company (hell...one of my interviewers studied sociology and was now a senior in HR...ok...that's not too far off...).  We start talking, in German naturally, about my background, etc., and I casually ask if it would be too much trouble to continue the conversation in English -- because describing HR systems work within Enterprise Resource Planners like Peoplesoft would be like jumping off a cliff...if it were to continue in German.  She said "no"...and I'm suddenly cut from my rappelling line...

OK...maybe I can handle this.  German...great.  Let's do it.  Then the other lady says "I know you applied to a Marketing and Analysis position previously, but we are more interested in talking to you about our HR Recruiter position."  It was in German of course, so it looked/sounded more like this "Katzerofl mengebiere yadayadayada neinja sagenSiemirbitte Denkmal 'HR RECRUITER' würdenSie, oder?"  I smiled and said, YEP....THAT SOUNDS GREAT!  (sarcasm/frustration alert)

One hour of struggling German conversation later, I came out of the interview thinking "crap...I guess that's that then."  Not only was there no chance to express myself in an intelligent fashion in English, regarding ANYthing, but I was also cornered into a position that...fits my profile, sure...but had nothing to do with the original position in my application.  I even got the treat of hearing the "yeah, well...so, we have several other candidates that we would like to interview, and we should be getting back to you within the next two weeks" in German.  Though I felt defeated, it definitely gave me insight on how I would be judged in a German-speaking business.  Just because you can read/write/speak at a high level in a language, and you can take tests that prove that you can do so, it could still be a long fight before you are able to truly compete with native speakers.  But I want this fight.  I want it pretty badly.  At least I talked for a whole hour in German...that's some kind of win, right?

I am now thankful for the opportunity, and thankful that Annette was there to greet me again afterwards.  I'll let you know how this one turns out...

D



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Diving...Drumming...Annette Visiting!

Well, I've got two dives under my belt in Roatan, Honduras and it's a great high to be doing something like that here.  We took off our masks at 20 feet down a couple days ago, as a part of the certification program, and it was a pretty unnatural feeling!  I am not really all that used to shutting off air circulation from my nose, so I will usually take in some water and choke a little...always fun...but I stayed on the bottom and our instructor said it was "good that you fought it...you have to learn how to fight that, so that was a good experience for you."  For those that don't dive, this is a necessary part of the certification because you have to know what to do in case your mask is knocked off 60 feet down.  You can't just swim up and put it back on...that's when you run into trouble because of the nitrogen levels in your blood...the science of it all is just as fun to learn about! 

My diving partner on the ship is Orly, the bass player from the Legends show.  He's a cool cat (great player too!) and gets all the skills terribly easy (I did just learn that he's dove before so it doesn't make me feel so bad...haha).  It usually takes me a bit longer to do any of the skills and I hope I'm not dragging down his experience.  Our instructor is great...a German guy named Jürgen...and he's super patient with our learning process.  He's very thorough and doesn't accept half-assed skill completion from either of us.  If it's not done exactly the way he does it, he makes us start over and do it until we understand (sometimes, it's 5 or 6 times in repetition because we missed a small detail that other instructors would probably gloss over).  I totally appreciate that he actually cares about "the right way" to do things, but I do find it funny when trying to communicate details underwater that were not previously discussed...always a challenge. 

I am getting to drum on the ship now, sometimes having to sacrifice time at a port or just waking up super early.  Glad that things are coming together in that department...I do still need a double kick pedal to work on that stuff though.  I'm this close to buying another...maybe a DW9000?  I'm a little tired of the Iron Cobra's feel...I just wish those things weren't so pricey!

I got to talk to Annette last night and she bought a plane ticket to come out in mid-February!  I'm psyched!  She is coming out for the Costa Maya/Roatan/Cozumel run, so I'm hoping to be Scuba certified by then so we can do that at one of the ports!  I'm glad she was able to work it out with her new job...too bad she can't stay for 2 months, but who can do that these days?  Anyways, just glad she'll make it out!!!

'Til next time...

D

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in Miami!

Hello all,

Just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all my friends and loved ones!  I am spending the day with about 30 other friends from the ship, at a real house, with REAL FOOD!  The atmosphere is totally upbeat and we are all enjoying getting away for a bit.  We have to be back on the ship at 3 p.m. to prep for tonight's shows, but at least we get to have a little fun before hitting what looks to be the busiest week of our tour (Christmas AND New Year's...and TONS of kids...somewhere around 1,000).  I'm gonna keep this one short, since I'm consequently appearing totally antisocial here...haha...here's some more vids...

Dusk in Nassau/Bahamas...

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Been A Long Time...But...I'm Still On A Ship...So....

Whoo!  Nothing much has changed lately, but I felt the need to update everyone.  I have been on the Epic, working for Blue Man Group again for the past month, and all is well here in Blue Man land.  The only thing that I can really complain about is our problem securing some of the equipment in order for me to do my job.  The ship tends to take their time on things, so I'm hoping that changes soon...procuring equipment and maintenance is more than half my job, so cross your fingers!!!

We have been having a decent time on the ship, with the Blue Man band hosting a couple parties, both for crew only, as well as in the ship's "Bliss Lounge"...one of the clubs onboard where passengers can hang out.  The band, reincarnating themselves as "The Crunch," have played a couple super-hyped modern rock sets that gets the crowd pretty bouncing.  These have been my favorite nights on the ship so far...

The show that we alternate with, Legends, abounds with talent and right now is featuring Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, and Britney Spears impersonators...I have seen their show more than a few times...it's great to see all these new friends rocking out!  We also had an amazing magician/comedian named Jeff Hobson onboard until last week.  The guy is unbelievably good and you need to check him out.  We get him back in a little over a month, and I'm looking forward to seeing him for the 8th time or so...

Staying in touch with Annette has proven more than difficult.  Internet is hard to come by, and free internet...even harder.  I finally talked to her for the first time on Skype last Saturday...it was awesome to see/hear her again.  I miss her a ton and getting through this 6 month trip is going to be hard to stomach, but we can do it!  Skype/Gmail is about the only thing I'm using to communicate with people.  I have no phone and I haven't ever felt this much in the Stone Age.  Most of us onboard have the same story, so there's just no easy way to go about it on the Epic.

Other than that, I have made some videos...nothing special...showcasing some of the port days where we get to unwind a bit while on the ship.  It's takes a long time to upload these suckers, so it's probably going to be a one-at-a-time kind of thing...here's a shot of the view from Cozumel's "No Name Bar", where you can treat yourself to swimming right off their back porch and grabbing an earful of craptastic music...

D

Cozumel - No Name Bar

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

On the Epic!

Hello all...been awhile!  So, I'm now officially a member of the NCL - Epic until mid-June!  I flew into Miami last Friday, and have been on the ship for 5 days now.  It's been great so far, but the internet service has been spotty at best.  You can get internet on the Epic, but it's $.10/min, and apparently as slow as a 14.4 modem.  To compensate, I've been studying German in my free time on the boat, and every time I hit a port, I get on the internet for free at one of the local shops.  Not only is it free, but it's also normally pretty fast...well, at least faster than a circa-1995 connection....possibly an upgrade to 1999.  Either way, can't complain.

Life on the ship has been interesting.  There has been PLENTY of downtime, so I've been trying to do anything but watch TV (oh, and my TV doesn't work, so it's really not an option...).  There are two gyms, and I have plenty of books/software on German, so I'm keeping myself busy.  On our off days (Tuesday through Thursday), we've been really lucky.  A lot of the crew is either not allowed off the ship, or has a lottery to get off the ship here and there.  Our status allows us to do a lot of the things that the passengers can do.  Let's put it this way...I'm planning on getting my scuba certification (I've never done it yet), within 2 months.  A lot of the guys are doing this, so it's pretty cool to have the opportunity.

I still haven't played the drums really since being on the ship.  I've heard there are opportunities to do so, but I have been so busy with learning my new tasks (I've never run cues during the Blue Man show so that is totally new), and learning where to do this or that.  I love everybody on board and I truly feel lucky to have a show crew like this.  They are a pretty tight family, and I hope to make myself a solid part of it very soon.

So far, my schedule has looked like this:
Friday - flew into Miami
Saturday - first couple of shows, staff party
Sunday - 2nd couple of shows...already doing my own cues
Monday - Costa Maya...got up at 8 and hit the beach for internet, ceviche, and relaxin...2 shows and load out for the other big show to take our theater space for 3 days
Tuesday - Roatan...up early again, tried to go scuba diving with everybody but had to get medical clearance first....it's all good...I start in two weeks
Wednesday - at sea, free day...was up at 6 a.m. and explored the ship at length
Thursday - here we are...Cozumel...free day until tonight...we load the show back in and I am meeting with my new trainer for the first time...gonna be fun either way!

Next week will be the first of the St. Thomas/St. Marten run for me...I plan to do a lot of shopping during that trip as I should have a full list of things necessary to do this for 6 months by then.  Other than that, the "saints" run is supposedly the lesser of the two tours.  Looking forward to it all the same...

Ok...gotta run...more updates (and pics) soon!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fantasy Sports in Germany; Job Update; Part I of Goethe Comes to a Close

It's turning a bit colder here in München, though it has yet to snow and stay (we had a light dusting about two weeks ago, and it melted almost immediately).  The whole last week was awesome weather for November, and all you needed most days was a sweatshirt.  I'm actually wondering if we will see some steady snowfall before I leave for warmer climates.

I have three days left in my German B12 course here at Goethe Institut, and then I'm off to the NCL-Epic ship next week as the new MIT (instrument tech) for Blue Man Group's travel production.  I've been called upon to get to the ship a week earlier than originally planned and I should be there until mid-June.  I plan to keep up the blog while onboard, though I've heard internet access costs 10 cents/min.  Ouch!  So, it's very likely I'll not be able to Skype anyone for the next 6 months and will only be logging on to upload/download emails and blog content.  The ship will port out of Miami and complete alternating Eastern/Western Caribbean tours of one week each.  For the last few weeks of the tour, we will do a transatlantic cruise and then port out of Barcelona the remaining couple weeks.  For more info on the ship/tours, click here.

I'm excited to be around drums again soon.  It's a pretty large part of my life...always has been...and I hope this experience will bring further opportunities when I return to Germany in June.  The plan, after tour, is to immediately re-enroll in Goethe Institut classes, starting in B21 and taking it as far as I can until I land a job here.  In other words, I will be enrolling in a class every month while simultaneously applying to jobs within Germany.  If I get a job by August, then my classes will stop at the "B2" level.  If it takes a little longer, then my classes will continue on to the "C" language levels, which is pretty high for a foreigner to achieve here.  As far as jobs I will be looking at next year, I will be seeking further music industry positions.  By the time I finish the tour, I will have professional player experience, group and private instruction experience, and tech experience on a major tour production.  Some ideal job lines that will play to these knowledge bases include Artist Relations and Brand Marketing for instrument/music technology manufacturers.  There are some great companies in Germany, so I'm looking forward to returning!

Getting cleared for working on NCL has been quite a process.  I've undergone a huge array of medical tests over the last month (vision, heart, pre-existing conditions, and tons of blood work) and Maritime Law has also called upon a thorough criminal background check.  I feel so violated...haha.  Anyhow, it's opened my eyes to just how great medical practices are and how low the costs are in Germany.  As of right now, I only have emergency medical coverage (through being a student) and this only covers pretty severe cases.  So, I had all of these tests done "out of pocket" and can tell you that it was state of the art technology and testing...all for less than 200 Euro (if you don't know the conversion rate, don't worry about it...that's cheap by U.S. health care standards)!!!  In fact, I had one last blood test performed by a doctor down the street, and when I picked up the results I asked him for the bill.  He said (again in extremely good English), "it's no problem" and waived his hand.  "Send us a postcard from the ship."  Ha...OK...will do!  I've heard time and time again about how bad the U.S. medical system is, with its HMO's, red-tape, and outrageous expenses that all seem to feed back to the pharmaceuticals industry (which has its hands in the government of course); and how many European countries have Socialist medical systems in place (that's MEDICAL SYSTEMS....not GOVERNMENT people...) that are designed to actually take care of the sick.  But seeing things first hand...there was nothing like it.  I thought I would receive over $1500 in bills and voiced my concern to Annette.  I laughed when I found out how much everything cost.  A lot of people in the U.S. have no idea how good things can be elsewhere and only see their system's benefits...this "We're Number 1" bullsh*t.  Yeah, I'd love to rave about how great the American medical system is, but I was denied health insurance last year.  I'm not saying Michael Moore's word is gold, not by far, but check out "Sicko" if you get a chance.  It's an eye-opener, and it explains a lot of what I've gone through. 

On other fronts, I am probably part of a tiny minority of Americans here that still cling to Fantasy Sports updates, playing football and hockey regularly.  I can sit for hours in front of the computer and sift through each game, combing for interesting stat lines and players to pick up for my fantasy teams.  I have asked around if there is anything similar going on here in Germany, and it looks like there is some sort of Fantasy Soccer website, though the fans aren't quite as gonzo crazy about that kind of thing here.  Maybe someday I'll open a bar, called "Insomniacs," that doesn't open until midnight weekdays and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sundays.  We can show all American sports and hope that somebody actually shows up once in awhile.  It's very hard to get games over here, so the need is there...just the timing of the games is awful.  For instance, I was up until 5:30 this morning watching the Eagles/Redskins.  If you didn't watch Vick totally obliterate football records last night (stat line: 20 for 28 completions for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns; also ran 8 times for 80 yards and 2 more touchdowns), shame on you.  What a sight to see!  Click here for a glimpse of the human highlight reel.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paperlate...Is An Indian Summer Called a "Celtic" or "Tribal" Summer Here?

Starting off today with two coffees and some Genesis on the iTunes shuffle...Paperlate seemed a fitting choice since it's been a week and a half since last writing.  There's good reason for that...

Before I get to that...the new Cage9 video for "Comatose" was released two days ago.  It's my first music video, so check it out and let me know what you think!  Here's the link.

The whole last week was spent doing things in the old apartment.  Spackling, painting, painting again, painting yet again, defrosting the fridge, painting, cleaning windows that had about 5 years worth of gunk on them, and then cleaning everything with lemon scented cleaners that peel 4 layers of skin off your fingers if touched.  Yes, Mom...I actually did ALL of this myself...








In that last picture, you can see that I wasn't lying about taking everything out of apartments...even the light fixtures (which I also spackled and repainted).  Fortunately, the girl that took the old apartment decided to keep the cabinets and such (they can tell you to remove them if they don't want them).  So, the reason for not keeping up with the writing, was that I also had class in the afternoon...AND...we had people coming for at least 2 of the mornings to the new apartment, fixing our door buzzer (below) and generally putting finishing touches on things.  This left me doing the painting in the morning and in dim late-afternoon light only (all lights but the bathroom were taken with us to the new apartment...good planning...haha).


The weather has been awesome lately, though all the trees lost their leaves in one day (this past Saturday), so the colors could no longer be appreciated in the sunlight.  Either way, I've dug out my T-shirts again...didn't have to dig far...that's pretty much all I got.  For almost a week we've had a majority of sunlight...which as I said in an earlier post, Germans will have you believe is as rare as rain in L.A.  It's not true, but at least it makes people appreciate it when it is here. (oh...and the net that you see below on our deck is to prevent pigeons from crapping us out of house and home...pigeons in Munich crap something fierce my friends)



Annette and I also went hiking at Tegernsee, a lake a little over an hour south of Munich, on Saturday.  It was one of the coolest things I've done here in Germany and if you come to Bavaria I recommend shooting on down there.  It's easily accessible, on a train named BOB, and two people can get there roundtrip for under 25 Euro.  I recommend also doing the T3 trail...we got there around 10 a.m., reached the top to eat around 1 p.m., and headed back in time for the 4 p.m. BOB home.  The only bad thing was, neither of us had done it before...and we didn't bring hiking boots (a MUST)...the top proved to be JUST a bit muddy...highlighting the trip, were the great views of the Alps from the top, great food, and the best Weissbier I've ever had...no idea who makes it, but the local brewery is pretty famous so I assume it was from them.  And...some pics/vids...
video








Despite living in Germany, I keep up with my fair share of American sports...mostly Boston teams, but given the fact that Randy Moss was on a Boston team, I felt the need to keep tabs on his progress.  What dandy progress that has been, eh?  I've seen "diva" players get tired of their teams and coaches, but what he's done is amazing:

1)  Got tired of not being respected in New England and was traded to the Minnesota Vikings, where he started.  Full transcript of "not being appreciated" by the Patriots is here.

2)  Said he was glad to be "home" and excited for the opportunity to play with Brett Favre.

3)  Returned to New England, a couple weeks later, this time as an opponent.  Vikings lose and he proceeds to bash his new team all while praising the Patriots.  Great transcript of what he said this time is here.  Please read this one at least...it's unbelievably funny how much of a 180 he pulls.

4)  Waived from the Vikings less than a week later and is now going to play for the Tennessee Titans.

I have a feeling he may find something wrong with them too...for instance...think of how small a market that is for such a big personality!  Nashville...known for it's music and....umm...hills.  He's going to be bored out of his skull.  Anyways...I know nobody really gives a crap what he does anymore (especially if you have no association with Boston or the Twin Cities), but he's definitely proved that although a great player...he's not a team player.

Random Thought of the Day:  When listening to Alice In Chains' "Again"...you're either the person who sings "ooh oh uh" over again and again...or says "yeah" over again and again.  Again, you can't be both.  For the song, click here.  It's about 2:20 in.  So, which are you, and how is this reflected in your life choices?

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Apts Take Time...The Sun Shines Not on Bavarians

...not that I don't have time right now...just saying...it's a dead-horse topic this week (month?).  Once again, I'm up early to supervise the work within the new apartment.  Today, we are putting up all the necessary curtain rods (yes, we have to put those up too...), the rest of the light fixtures, mirrors, and pictures.  I don't know if it's normal to have someone do all this for you on contract, but it seems to be consistent with every other installation I've witnessed thus far in Germany...let the professionals handle it.  From what I understand about the school system here, this guy has probably done this for 20 years, though he's only 32 (Germans have to decide about their profession extremely early in life, somewhere around 10-12 years of age...read about the school system here).  I stopped taking shop class in 8th grade, so this kind of stuff would take me at least four times as long to accomplish.  Either way, it's proven tough enough to communicate only in my limited German (we just had a 5 minute conversation about whether I have tape in the house.  I was unfamiliar with the vocab), since most skill-laborers also stop English lessons much earlier as a result of their school/career path.

Other than being the overseer for the day, I'll be once again running to the other apartment to start painting (I'll be there all week...see above for explanation...too bad I can't pretend I have some sort of Pollock obsession.  Coloring within the lines has always been tough).  I also have to defrost the freezer there and then run to the tailor once more (we were missing one curtain).

People here complain about the weather a lot.  I think everybody in Munich is grateful for pretty much everything life has to offer...except the weather.  It's really not all that bad, from what I've seen.  It rains a lot, but so did Boston.  Everybody is always asking me, "so how do you like Munich...oh, you must hate the weather here."  No, actually, I enjoy gray skies...I like storms...I like being out in them...I like the excitement involved...you never know what's going to happen.  Is something wrong with me?  Are we truly damned that it must rain in this world?  A majority of the German population seems to think that it's the most awful thing to happen since Soundgarden or Rage broke up...wait, who didn't get back together in the last year?  Since Johann "Seabass" Bach died.  (btw...why hasn't Sebastian Bach made an attempt at Bach Row?  Sebastian Bach, arguably the former best-looking female singer of the 80's/90's...fronting a metal-esque Bach cover band...with no keyboard players allowed...epic dude).  At least here it will probably be more like Wisconsin in the winter, sticking with snow and staying below freezing once it heads there.  Boston had a knack for snow, then 60's & rainy, then a 75 degree sunny day, then 40's & rainy, snow again, occasional ice storm, 75 degree day again, 5 feet of snow (and suddenly, you can't park anywhere because everybody has put out lawn chairs on the street to call their cleared spots)...all winter.  For a little more description of that famous Munich greyness, here are some exclusive pics from the square (der Platz, auf Deutsch) we live at:





...does that look so bad?  I don't think so, but I do see some Pessimismimbulus Clouds approaching...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Twas a Week b4 Halloween

...and all through the house...not a creature was stirring...because it's cold as hell outside.  Yeah, one of these days, I may have to invest in something other than T-shirts.  The initial thought was that I'd tough out the next month with the clothes I brought from L.A., since I'm on a boat for 6 months and won't have much use for a ski-jacket for at least another 10 months.  Anyways, it's officially cold in Munich...7 degrees Celsius.  Might have to change my plan.

Yeah...I haven't heard anyone talk about Halloween yet.  Not a peep.  I can't figure out if it's just not that big of a deal here, or if it's because we're not in 8th grade anymore, or if it's because none of our friends have kids here, or all of the above.  I think everyone is still recovering from Wies'n (Oktoberfest) and sick of partying all the time...

Speaking of partying...we had a great time last night, at yet another house/birthday party.  This time, it was our friend Alex's turn, and she treated us to some wonderful chili, and Cuba Libre's (image above) , which apparently are high-shelf versions of "rum and coke."  I told everyone I wasn't familiar with the drink due to the States having such a volatile history with Cuba.  It might not be the truth, but at least I don't look like an ass for saying I've never heard of "rum and coke" ('till now).  I have this theory that Germans planned all their pregnancies in the 70's and 80's, staggered in one week intervals, so that their children could grow closer as the years pass.  In Germany, you never say, "man...it's been forever since I've seen 'so-and-so,'" because the same group of friends is passing around the birthday candle on a weekly basis.  I'm not lying...we've been to a birthday party almost once a week!  And there's one next week...ha (sorry Judith...this just proves my point)!

And to keep the party going, Annette and I are considering having our own Thanksgiving here.  I noticed how Germany is HUGE on tradition, and family is a really big deal here (I think even more so than in the midwest)...so why not carry on some of my traditions here too, right?  Either way, it will be a good excuse to have people over to our new place and watch football all night (ok...I may be doing that last part alone).

More random thought of the day:

If you haven't seen Mad Men yet, check it out.  We're on season 4 and it's been the most entertaining series I've seen in awhile.  And, speaking of entertaining, Machete was also a riot!  I think I'm officially a Robert Rodriguez fan!

Tschüss