German-American Couple Returns to Portland, Oregon, for the 2013 Holiday Season

05-big-pink-tower-arrival-in-downtown-portland-oregon

Good ol’ Big Pink, lookin’ like a dildo in a hurricane.

The Wife and I flew back to the United States for the holidays this year. We spent Christmas in Portland, Oregon, and New Year’s in Cannon Beach. You know what was weird about being back home? The fact that it wasn’t weird. I’d been in Germany for a year and 3 months, and the Pacific Northwest felt exactly the same way I left it; green, rainy and full of Subaru Outbacks.

We had a fantastic time with our friends and family, saw lots of familiar places and even returned to the same beach where we got married. It was a great trip, and I captured the experience in the following sequence of horrible photos taken with my iPhone (and without a lick of photographic talent).

Click one of the images below to start the slideshow. We hope you can dig it!

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American Expat in Germany Experiences His First ‘Green Cabbage Walk’ (Grünkohlwanderung)

Bregenwurst Grünkohlwanderung potatos kartofeln

At the end of an arduous journey through the snow, who WOULDN’T want to see this steaming pile of horror?

Winters in Germany last a long time, and by long, I mean like half the year. They are cold, windy and darker than your worst nightmare. As a result, there are lots of fun social traditions during the winter months to keep people happy and less inclined to go down on the business end of a shotgun. In Niedersachsen, as I’ve recently learned, there is an old tradition known as ‘Grünkohlwanderung;’ large groups of people taking long walks through snow-covered forests with frequent stops to take shots of liquor and play extraordinarily humiliating games. At the end of the walk, everyone gathers in a restaurant to eat green cabbage (kale) and fatty sausage, hence the name Grünkohlwanderung, AKA:”Green Cabbage Walk.”

Recently, one of our German friends had a birthday. To help celebrate, we joined 20 other people and went on a Grünkohlwanderung through the Eilenriede forest in Hannover, Germany. We knew we were in good company because there were two wooden wagons chock-full of beer, liquor and party favors. To start things off, all the men had to stand to one side, dangle a tea bag from their teeth and swing it to see who could toss theirs the farthest. I thought I was pretty clever dousing my tea bag with beer on the sly beforehand — you know, to give it more weight — but it landed like 2 yards in front of my feet anyway. That earned a few laughs and absolutely no respect from the Germans, so I spiked my beer and pounded it with great haste.

We walked and talked, and everyone had a great time. I even got to meet a couple who brought their baby along with them. My favorite part of that particular conversation was when the mom readjusted the baby’s blankets and — without missing a beat — freed-up one hand by sliding her beer in the milk bottle-holder of the stroller. The gesture was so fluid it was like watching poetry in motion.

Thank Christ I didn’t have to participate in the next game we played: the birthday girl made two teams compete against each other in a whistling competition — while chewing on mouthfuls of dry white bread — and the rest of us had to guess the songs they were attempting to whistle. You should have seen the bread crumbs fly. It was spectacular. I have no idea which songs they were whistling, because most of them were traditional German drinking ditties, but I definitely heard some Lady Gaga in there.

We kept walking and drinking until I discovered one of the people in our group was a medical student. I went to great lengths to convince him Germans are taller on average than Americans. I even tried to get scientific about it:

ME: “Look! Look at those two handsome bastards in front of us. They’re like 7 feet tall!”

DOCTOR: “Those are my cousins. They are exceptionally tall.”

ME: “No dude, all of you guys are tall. In America, I’m the average.” (Note, I am 5′ 10,” standing up straight, with shoes on and tall thoughts in my mind.)

DOCTOR: “You think so, huh?”

ME: “I know so. I think it has to do with the climate. You guys need more surface area to absorb sunlight because the weather in Germany sucks.”

DOCTOR: *Laughing* “It probably has to do with diet…”

ME: “Damn. I hadn’t thought of that.”

*A squeaky voice chimed in behind me, and I turned around to see the shortest German woman in the entire world.*

SUPER SHORT GIRL: “Not everyone in Germany is tall. Look at me.”

ME: “Nobody asked you, Short Round!

Finally, we arrived at the restaurant, and I gotta tell you: kale, sausage and skinned potatoes may look like hell, but after a long, cold walk and copious amounts of alcohol, they taste amazing.

grog whiskey water hot drink medieval germany modern funnyCheck it out! That’s real German grog right there! The drink of vikings! (Somehow, I always imagined grog would be a mixture of moonshine and beer, but apparently it’s just hot water, whiskey and lemon juice. Whatever. I still felt like a berserker when I ordered it.)

Grünkohlwanderung potatos kartofelnThat’s my wife fixing up a couple of plates for us. I will never understand why Germans don’t like to eat potatoes with the skins on. That’s where all the vitamins are! (Or so my mother always taught me.)

Bregenwurst Grünkohlwanderung potatos kartofelnAnd there you have it — the Grünkohl meal. I have seriously desired this food every night since I first had it, but if I ate it all the time, I would be typing this blog post from a hospital bed with clogged arteries and a pacemaker in my chest. “Nurse! My bedpan is full! Also, this hospital grog tastes like steaming pee pee.”

My German Wife Attempts to Reheat A Soft Boiled Egg in the Microwave

reheating a hard boiled egg in the microwave

Right from the start, I think we all know where this post is headed.

My German wife and I like to eat a few soft boiled eggs for brunch on the weekends, but sometimes we make too many, and one egg goes uneaten. Being the stingy nerds we are, we always save the remaining egg and put it in the refrigerator for later. We do this knowing we will never actually eat it, because eating cold, soft boiled eggs is like slurping the mucus out of a giant eyeball. My wife has a special method for reheating these eggs, however, so I want you to imagine last weekend, when this small German woman explained to me with an adorably subtle accent and just a hint of condescension exactly how it works:

“This is how you heat up a soft boiled egg in the microwave; you just put it in for 5 seconds on low, but you have to be very careful.”

I nodded without a trace of interest and left the kitchen in order to set the table in the living room. As I was arranging the knives and forks, I heard the microwave run for exactly 5 seconds. Then, curiously, I heard it run for an additional 5 seconds. This is the sound it made:

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, ding!
*microwave door is opened and then closed again*
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, BOOM, ding!

When I returned to the kitchen, I saw my wife holding the microwave door open, mouth agape, with a mixture of silent shock and confusion on her face. She was staring at the remains of an egg so utterly devastated it actually spilled out of the microwave and into the sink below. It was like the Devil himself stepped out from the maw of hell, extended one clawed finger and said, “Fuck THAT egg…” and detonated it with a hex of black magic, then descended once more into his fiery lair, smiling to himself because human suffering just got a little bit worse.

“I thought the egg could handle another 5 seconds,” said my wife, pawing at the orange and white mess with a sponge. “I think I was overconfident.”

an egg after it exploded in the microwave

I was laughing so hard I had to take this picture like 5 times to get one which wasn’t blurry.

My Wife Talks About Apartment Hunting in Hannover, Germany

apartment hunting - finding an apartment

“Oh, we’re trying to find an apartment in Europe now? Let me just suck on the end of this shotgun for a sec…” — Photo by Colin and Sarah Northway (http://www.flickr.com/photos/apes_abroad/)

Over a year an a half ago, The Wife and I experienced a hyper stressful time in which I was pulling the plug on my life in America and moving to Germany, and how she was simultaneously starting her new career in Hannover while trying to find us a place to live and get everything moved-in prior to my arrival. She was a real trooper about it, but — like I’ve said before — Germans are downers.

My wife searched through countless listings and talked to a wide variety of contact people in the hopes of finding an apartment in Hannover. She was so desperate she even considered hiring an ‘Immobilienmakler;’ a ridiculously expensive apartment broker agency which charges the equivalent of two month’s rent plus fees. We didn’t need to do so, thank Christ, but we did need to know exactly what our budget was, and in which part of the city we wanted to live; no small task for a clueless American and a jet lagged German. So we were talking on the phone late one night, discussing our options, when a fundamental difference between our two cultures revealed itself in a moment of perfect clarity:

ME: “What? Everything will be fiiiiiiine. No worries, yo. I mean, why don’t you think we’ll find something under €800 euros? Is it because we don’t know the neighborhoods? Or like, because of the competition or something?”

THE WIFE: “Because I’m a pessimist.”

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My German Wife Corrects My Limited and Highly Inappropriate Use of the German Language

scary mouth hand covering face

“Maybe I should just stop now and never speak again.” — Photo by Sarah G (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dm-set/)

Learning German is hard. We all know that. But back when I was in my first German class in 2012, I remember learning a few basics about grammar and verb conjugation, and thinking to myself, “Hey, maybe I’m making some progress! Maybe I’ll actually learn this ugly bastard!”

Oh silly little American nerd — I had no idea what I was in for. German keeps getting more and more complex the deeper you go, and unless you’ve been doing a perfect job of memorizing those godforsaken gender-based articles along the way, you will make mistakes every single time you open your yap and try to speak it.

But my wife, God bless her, has been 110% supportive the entire time. Never a discouraging word. Always telling me how great I’m doing, how I’m learning so much, and how I will become fluent someday. She’s fantastic like that. She still has to correct me when I make big mistakes, however, which is why our conversation back in May of 2012 went like this: We had just come home from a trip to the beach and were unpacking our bags, when suddenly I had to go poop really bad. Like, Red Alert bad. So I dropped the bags, pointed my finger to the sky and proudly announced:

ME: “Ich gehe zu scheißen!” (“I’m going to shit!”)

…to which my wife replied…

THE WIFE: “Good job. That is right, but it is very rude.”

My German Wife Accidentally Adopts Two Monsters While Cleaning Our Office

plastic Kinder Surprise egg toyYou see that little green guy in the picture? He came from a Kinder Surprise egg. Kinder Surprises are chocolate eggs with plastic toys inside — most of which require assembly and utilize tiny moving parts designed specifically to block your windpipe.

Kinder Surprise egg uberraschungThey’re totally banned in the United States because of this choking hazard, and also because they’re classified as food items …yet they contain non-food objects completely hidden inside. It’s a semantic issue, really, and semantics are not cool with Americans. I mean, how can you have two labels applied to the same useless piece of shit? It’s just too much for us to handle. But as for choking hazards, my Kinder Surprise egg contained the toy pictured above — carefully contained within a vacuum-sealed plastic bag, which also contained a fold-out booklet of assembly instructions, all of which were contained within a plastic shell the size of a marshmallow. So if some kid managed to jam this entire thing is his mouth and choke to death on it, he was probably about to lick a light socket anyway.

Kinder Egg toy in German plastic plantThis is my Kinder Surprise toy peeking out of a plastic plant. All day long, he’s just looking at me. Watching. Judging. It’s cute I guess, but not my idea. My German wife was cleaning our office the other day, you see, and rather than let my little toy continue to gather dust beside my computer, the way I like it, she consolidated items and invited a whole new member into our family:

“This is Carlson,” said my wife, proudly displaying her ingenuity. “He will watch over you and keep you safe while you work.”

german keychain owlThis hideous little thing is the stuffed owl from my wife’s keychain. She named it Mechtild — a girl’s name, apparently. Mechtild is broken, of course, so for the past year she’s been sitting on my wife’s desk being useless. If you pinch her between your fingers, you can hear the beans inside crunch together. It’s creepy. I hate her.

stuffed own keychain in germanyHere we have Mechtild peeking out from another plastic plant; this one facing my wife’s side of the office. When I asked why we suddenly had two creatures hiding in our fake plants, my wife replied:

“Well, I was cleaning today and I thought it was super cute when I put Carlson in your plant. Then I got jealous and I wanted one too, so I put Mechtild in my plant, so now we both have one! …but I still like yours better. Mine is kind of ugly.”

plastic plants in germanyHere are Carlson and Mechtild in action. And with that, I welcome you to the new and improved headquarters of Oh God, My Wife Is German!

American Expat Living in Germany Looks Back at Blogging in the Year 2013

funny german couple at festival

“Damn dude, you have CHANGED.” — Photo by Alex Archambault (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lostintexas/)

2013 was a big year for The Wife and I. After living in the States together, we moved to Hannover, Germany! Now, I’ll be real honest with you: it was scary at times (there may have been tears). I dropped everything, including a house, car and job, and moved across the globe to a country in which I did not adequately speak the language. Meanwhile, my wife scrambled around finding us an apartment here in Hannover, moving everything in and launching her post-university career. Jesus Christ, I think I’m going to have a panic attack just thinking about all that stuff again. Yep. It’s on. “Honey, call the Krankenwagen; my thunderous American heart has finally given out.”

2013 was also a big year for our blog. In addition to our usual denglish posts, I began writing about life as an American expat in Germany, and the culture shock and linguistic misadventures which ensued. I also started making videos and posting pictures from our travels around Germany, which brought in a lot more new readers. We were featured on The Local and several other expat resource websites. On top of all that, one of our posts was ‘Freshly Pressed’ on WordPress.com. Our readership just exploded over the past year, and as of the writing of this post, we’re about to pass the 10,000 subscriber mark!

We would like to sincerely thank you for reading our blog and invite you to take a look at some cool information from this past year, including:

  • Silly Statistics
  • Our Most Popular Post Ever
  • Where Our Readers Come From
    …and of course…
  • Our Top 5 Blog Commenters

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 320,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 14 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to view the 2013 blog stats from Oh God, My Wife Is German!