Tag Archives: Humor

My German Wife Buys A New Shower Caddy for Our Bathroom

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Those bottles look like tiny prison inmates leaning over Cell Block D. “When we gonna shank the naked guy, Boss?”

So, moving into a new apartment is always a monumental pain in the ass, especially when you’re moving from America to Germany literally weeks after getting married. It also doesn’t help when you know nothing about furniture, kitchen appliances or any of the bathing accessories women can’t seem to live without. (Loofahs? Poufs? Bath Sponges? These all sound like playful forms of birth control which might come to life and start singing around some lovesick princess in a Disney movie: “Why say ‘maybe’ to that baby gravy? Wash your womb and add perfume; no one wants a baby!”)

Fortunately, my wife knows all about bath products and how to store them in an orderly fashion. So back in August of 2012, just before we moved, she informed me we would need to hang some kind of apparatus in our shower stall to hold all of our toiletries:

THE WIFE: “We don’t want to drill holes in the tile, so we will get a basket with vacuum sponges.”*

*I believe she meant a “shower caddy” with “suction cups.”

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My German Wife Is Grateful for the Opportunity to Teach Older Students

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“Thank goodness I got that second master’s degree! Now, don’t poke your eyes out, Dieter.” — Photo by Gerry Thomasen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerrythomasen/)

My wife is a Gymnasium teacher here in Germany, which means she has the training and education to teach high school students — not the little smelly ones who stick raisins up their noses. And Gymnasium teachers don’t just teach 5th through 12th graders; they teach the ones who show real academic promise. Get this: if you aren’t smart enough to go to a Gymnasium, you aren’t allowed to attend a university after graduation. You have to go to a trade school and learn how to repair cars for all the uppity nerds who got better grades than you. Can you imagine? I like to think of a young German man — let’s call him Horst — slaving away beneath some fancy BMW. He’s fixing it the best he can, turning the cranks and tightening the screws, when a shot of oil hits him in the eye like the money shot in a porno. That’s the moment when Fancypants Schillinger, the former high school valedictorian, strolls into the auto shop:

FANCYPANTS: “Well hello there, Horst! I haven’t seen you since you flunked out of our Gymnasium! What have you been up to?”

HORST: “Fixing your car, obviously.”

FANCYPANTS: “Hah hah, good ol’ Horst. Remember how popular you were in school? How you went to all the parties and chased all the girls? I used to be so envious…”

HORST: *Jabbing his hand into the toolbox* “Yup..”

FANCYPANTS: “But then you flunked one too many classes and wound up in a Hauptschule with all the other knuckle draggers. I bet that was a real trip to the zoo, wasn’t it? Hah hah!

… and that’s how Horst wound up serving life in prison for beating a nerd to death with a monkeywrench.

Anyway, my point is the German educational system — while highly effective — can be a tad elitist. You can imagine why a smart, well-educated Gymnasium teacher might not relish the idea of teaching little kids, especially little American kids. But that’s exactly what my wife did back in 2012, when she spent a year in the United States at a primary school. She did this on a J1 work visa in order to give us the chance to live together as a couple. It was a sacrifice on her part, and I respect the hell out of her for making it. I had to laugh, however, when she was about to leave the States and begin her job as a full-blown Gymnasium teacher in Germany, explaining to me (with no small amount of relief ) how old her future students would be:

THE WIFE: “They are older. I will have 5th through 12th graders. They are not thigh-biters.”*

*3 seconds later: “… I mean ankle-biters.”

My German Wife Struggles with the Size of Our American Kitchen

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This would be our kitchen exactly, if you added a little caution tape and some biohazard signs. — Photo by Chalon Handmade (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chalonuk/)

I bought a house back in 2007, before I met the woman who would become my wife. It was a real bachelor pad, complete with carpet stains, spiders in the bathroom corners and an indoor swimming pool made entirely of beer cans. But once my wife and I began our relationship, I started referring to my house as our house. My car became our car. And my pile of dirty clothes under the bed became our little quarantine-worthy smallpox outbreak. What I’m saying here is, I stopped seeing things as mine vs. hers; an attitude my wife largely shares, unless she’s clumsily breaking things and then denying all responsibility.

So fast forward to the end of the summer of 2012, when my wife was about to fly back to Germany to find us an apartment and start her new job while I wrapped things up in the States. Shortly before she left, we planned a small goodbye BBQ with our friends and loved ones. We scrambled to clean the house mere hours before this social gathering took place, focusing most of our attention on the kitchen and making it look as clean as possible. (Displaying one’s kitchen honestly, the way it actually looks from day-to-day, is like prancing about in tighty whities and openly flaunting your skidmarks; nobody wants to see the truth.) So as my wife was taking some glasses out of the dishwasher and setting them in the cabinet above, she somehow managed to knock over her own beer with her elbow, shouting…

THE WIFE: “Ahhh! Dammit! Your kitchen isn’t big enough!”

Becoming A Permanent Resident of Germany: 6 Tips for American Citizens with German Spouses

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“Those colors. So strong, yet so intimidating…” — Photo by Trine Juel (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tjuel/)

Are you an American citizen married to — or about to marry — a German citizen? Do you wish to move to Germany and live there as a permanent resident? Then congratulations! You have no sense of fear whatsoever! Man, woman or transgender — you have great big balls. Seriously, like 25% of your body weight is pure testicle. (And for that, I salute you.)

Because I have already made the leap myself, people email me all the time and ask for advice on moving to Germany. In response, I have sent fragmented tips, pointers and oblong nuggets of information on the subject all across the internet. My advice has been scatterbrained at best, so with this blog post, I am hoping to mash all my thoughts together like a fat kid sitting on a ham sandwich.

Before I begin, however, I want you to bear in mind the following 3 facts:

  1. My wife is German. If you haven’t figured this out by now, you probably wore a helmet to grade school.
  2. My wife and I got married in the United States and then moved to Germany. My only experience with German weddings has been as an inebriated guest.
  3. We moved from the United States to Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). Immigration protocols in Germany may vary from state to state.

That said, here we go! I hope you enjoy our tips for Americans on gaining permanent residency in Germany!

1.) Bring your American marriage certificate

Before you depart the United States on your way to Germany, make sure you bring a notarized copy — ideally 2 or 3 — of your official American marriage certificate. (Not the pretty one for framing on your wall. The real one.) It has to be notarized, meaning you take it to your state’s notary public office, where they stamp it with an apostille. I know that sounds like one of the 12 dudes who used to follow Jesus around and tell everyone how awesome he was, but it’s not; it’s an internationally recognized seal of certification, and Germans love it. They love it so much, they won’t accept your American marriage certificate without it.

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“That’s right. You sign that filthy little contract…” — Photo by Mike Goren (http://www.flickr.com/photos/celebdu/)

2.) Get your American marriage certificate translated

Once you get to Germany, you have to have your American marriage certificate translated by a certified German translator. (And no, your spouse can’t translate it for you. That wouldn’t be painful enough.) After you have an officially translated certificate, you’ll need to take it to your local marriage department or courthouse. Once there, you’ll sign some paperwork and receive your German marriage certificate. This document is the key to attaining your initial, 3-year residency permit from the immigration office and getting signed up for everything else you’ll need, like health insurance and German language classes. (The next section is all about this infuriating process.)

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“Fatty pork products can help ease the suffering as you begin your descent into paperwork hell.” — Photo by Stacey Cavanagh (http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceycav/)

SPECIAL NOTE: Figure out your legal name before you go to the marriage department, because the German government hates middle names. For example, my middle name became my “second first name,” and now appears on every legal document I receive. (Not a problem, really, but my middle name makes me sound like a dandy Englishman.) The marriage department is cool with hyphenated last names, but if you ever remove the hyphen, you can’t go back; it’s a one-way street. Also, they’re supposed to give you the option to keep your name exactly the way it appears in your home country, but they will make sure you understand doing so would really break their balls.

3.) Get your sweet ass to the immigration office

Do not wait to go to the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde); go there as soon as you have your German marriage certificate in hand. I say this because the people who work at the immigration office are all functionally retarded. I had to make 3 different appointments and wait in unbelievably long lines because they lost my paperwork after my first appointment. If you know someone who works there, I want you to email me their home address so I can show up at their door and open-hand slap them as hard as humanly possible. I want the neighbors next door to hear it. I want their kids to start crying and their dog to start barking. God damn I hate the immigration department.

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“This place is exactly like ‘The Walking Dead,’ minus the sex scenes.” — Photo by Mark Hillary (http://www.flickr.com/photos/markhillary/)

Anyway, bring every piece of identification you have, along with your marriage certificate, passport photos and about €150 euros in cash. The cash is to pay for your 3-year residence permit, which is actually just an ID card, like your driver’s license. And remember to bring your German spouse with you, because the immigration office employees probably can’t speak English. (They can barely manage to dress themselves each morning.)

SPECIAL NOTE: Before they will give you the residency card, you will have to pass a little test. It’s a quick verbal exam to determine your ability to speak the German language at approximately A1 level. (A1 is for extreme beginners, but they want you to have some knowledge of the language so you can begin your German integration class. More on this later.) My test was exactly 5 questions long:

  1. What is your name? (Nailed this one.)
  2. Can you spell your name? (Blew this one.)
  3. Where do you come from? (Scraped by this one.)
  4. How old are you? (Nailed this one.)
  5. How did you get here this morning, e.g. subway, on foot, etc.? (Stumbled through this one like a drunken toddler.)

In short, I barely passed. I honestly don’t know what happens if you fail, but don’t stress about it; you’re married to a German. They can’t kick you out of the country unless you break some laws and do something super bad. Like, James Bond movie villain bad. And although it’s unfair, you will receive preferential treatment because you come from America. That’s just the way it is. Be glad you don’t come from some evil country where warmongering, corruption and greed run rampant (oh wait…).

4.) Sign up for German health insurance as soon as possible.

When I came to Germany, I was so concerned with playing by the rules I accidentally broke them. I stayed on American travel insurance for almost a year after my arrival, and that pissed the German insurance people right the hell off. They wanted me on the books, in the system, and paying my dividends from the word go.

I was penalized a little for this mistake, but in the end, it wasn’t a huge deal. The real hassle was trying to get my basic healthcare needs met. If your spouse is German and has a decent job, chances are you’re entitled to coverage already — you just have to sign up. You may qualify for the public health option, or you might need a private one, but either way, don’t wait; have your spouse inquire at work and figure out your benefits.

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“Here comes your communist root canal!” — Photo by Conor Lawless (http://www.flickr.com/photos/conchur/)

On a side note, Germany is not exactly the utopia of free health insurance and abundant healthcare we’ve been led to believe; there is a public option for people with lower incomes, but they wait longer for appointments and their prescription medications are limited to the basics. Yes, everyone is ‘theoretically’ covered, but you’ll find a world of difference between public and private insurance no matter the country in which you reside. If you have money, you’ll get doctor appointments sooner, enjoy preferential treatment overall, and have enough pharmaceutical options to kill a rock star. I’m sorry, but when it comes to healthcare, having money is the tits.

5.) Enroll in an integration course as soon as possible

Germany is a popular country for immigrants, and most of them are coming from countries closer than America, so language classes required by the German government fill up quickly. It was the beginning of September when I first arrived, and I was told the next integration class would begin after the first of the year. I returned in the second week of January only to find the class completely full. I had to wait until spring for the next one to begin, so please, do yourself a favor and sign up for your class immediately.

Now, assuming you’ve already attained that 3-year residency permit I mentioned, but you still suck at German, you’ll need to take exactly 3 integration classes: A1, A2 and B1. After you’re done, you’ll then take the B1 exam. It has several portions, including reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension. It can seem really hard at first, but don’t worry; you’ll be prepared for it after all those hellish hours spent in the classroom. Also, you can find all sorts of sample B1 tests on the Goethe-Institut website (www.goethe.de) — so you know exactly what sorts of things you need to practice.

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“There are 16 articles in the German language. Who’s up for some ritual suicide?” — Photo by Shane global (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaneglobal/)

After you pass your B1 exam, you’ll probably have to take a month-long ‘orientation’ class afterward. This is where they teach you all about German politics, geography and history… as if you miraculously overlooked every single World War II movie and History Channel documentary ever made. Anyway, you’ll need to take another little test for this orientation course, but then you’re done! You’ll bring your test certificates to the immigration office, along with some cash and a heroic amount of patience, and they’ll give you your 10-year residence permit. They might actually give you your permanent residence permit right there, but it depends how long you’ve been married to your German. (I think you need to have survived at least 5 years without killing each other. Then you’re golden.)

You can take all of these classes at your local VHS (Volkshochschule), or anywhere else recognized by the immigration department. I believe your local VHS will be the cheapest option, but remember: Even in Germany, you get what you pay for. (This is a polite way of saying the VHS can be a hit-or-miss experience. Half of my teachers were awesome. The other half can lick my unholy scrotum. Consider looking for a ‘Bildungsverein’ — or virtually any other language school — if you value your sanity.)

6.) Don’t Panic.

I really hope this article helps you feel more prepared for your life in Germany. It can be a scary prospect for an American — I know — but one which will very likely turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Life in Germany rules; it is a beautiful country, safe, stable and full of wonderful people. However, if you still feel stressed about the big move, remember the following:

  1. You are married to a German citizen and you come from a so-called ‘respectable’ country. You’ll be allowed to stay no matter what anyone tells you.
  2. Most Germans speak some English. In a pinch, you can usually default to your native language. This is a huge advantage, and it’s totally unfair (but totally awesome).
  3. You are going to die someday. I know this is depressing, but it’s also liberating, because none of these little details really matter. Picture yourself on your deathbed, sucking in your last feeble breath before greeting the great void beyond; did it really matter if you filled out that one little immigration form in exactly the right way? Did the Germans throw you on a plane and deport your ass because you turned in that one document a day or two after the deadline? Were you separated from your beloved spouse for the rest of your life because you didn’t ace that stupid language test the first time? No. Lots of idiots have done this before you. You will be fine. Everything is going to work out beautifully.
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“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Photo by Johan Larsson (http://www.flickr.com/photos/johanl/)

American Expat in Germany Experiences Colossal Misunderstanding at the Dentist’s Office

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“Wait, what’s happening? I just came here to pick up my dry cleaning!” — Photo by Zdenko Zivkovic (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zivkovic/)

Let me begin by saying I’m still pissed about this incident. Over the past few weeks, I’ve waited for my anger to solidify into something useful and constructive — you know, like humor — but I still want to coldcock somebody so hard they wake up in the middle of next week. So please, forgive me if the tone of this post is slightly more aggressive than usual.

- – - – - – - -

Our story begins in early January of 2014, when I walked into our dentist’s office to make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned. I’d been to this office several times before, and always relied upon the dentist himself to speak English with me. This time around, however, I was taking a B1 German integration class, which is kind of like saying your German language skills are “intermediate, but you still suck.” Nevertheless, I felt I should have been able to make a simple appointment entirely in German. Here is what was said, if you were to translate everything directly into English:

ME: *Striding confidently up to the reception desk* “Good day to you. I would gladly like to make my teeth scrubbed clean.”

RECEPTIONIST: *A chubby woman with terrible hair and a deviated septum* “Okay. Would you like to have a professional examination with the dentist, or have a professional teeth cleaning?”

ME: *Looking stunned and confused, having only recognized the words ‘dentist’ and ‘teeth’* “Uhhh, it does me sorrow, but I have not correctly understood. I am currently, at this very moment, learning German. Can you that please, slowly repeat?”

*She repeats exactly what she said, at the exact same speed*

ME: “…Yes.”

RECEPTIONIST: “So which one would you like? Do you want to see the dentist for a professional examination?”

ME: “Yes.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Okay, are you available next week at 11:00 am?”

ME: “Yes.” *Pausing uncomfortably, wondering if it had truly been a full year since my last official checkup with the dentist himself, rather than just a 6-month cleaning* “Excuse me please. Is it normally done for me to see the dentist? I want only to make my teeth scrubbed clean.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Yes. It is normal.”

ME: *Thinking to myself, ‘How many ways can one screw up a simple teeth cleaning? Everything’s fine. You’re golden.’* “Very good. Until then. Have a nice day.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Likewise. Goodbye.”

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“Sharp objects in my mouth? Poor communication skills? What could go wrong?” — Photo by jonny goldstein (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnygoldstein/)

Now, at this juncture, I would like to clarify the fact that this woman made absolutely no attempt to understand the broken German I was using. I feel I made my intentions clear, but the receptionist was far more concerned with me using the correct technical words than she was with coming to any real understanding. She spoke quickly, did not elaborate or attempt to clarify the terminology used, and did so with a thinly veiled air of condescension. To this day, I hate her guts and hope she sits on a dental drill.

Anyway, I showed up for my appointment the following week — all bright-eyed and full of hope — and was led to the examination room. The dentist came in, glanced inside my mouth and said in passable English, “You grind your teeth. We need to make a night guard for you.”

Before I knew what was happening, the dentist disappeared and some assistant with a cold sore was jamming my pie hole full of pink goo. Apparently it was the material for casting a mold of my teeth, as it quickly solidified and was then removed. I was left to spit out the remaining pieces stuck between my gums into the wash basin beside me.

ASSISTANT: *In German* “Okay. All finished.”

ME: “Wait, what? But I would gladly have my teeth scrubbed… okay. I believe we have a misunderstanding.”

*The assistant went and got the dentist, who returned to the room to find me, a visibly irritated American male, perched on the examination chair like a coiled spring.*

ME: *In English* “Hi Doc. Listen, I don’t know what is going on. I came here today to have my teeth cleaned, and suddenly I’m being fit for a night guard I don’t even want — which insurance may or may not cover, because I have no idea how much it costs — and my teeth are very definitely not being cleaned.”

*The assistant ran in and out of the room a couple times to give the dentist the information on costs and insurance associated with the night guard. Apparently they are €275 euros and ‘probably’ covered.*

DENTIST: “The night guard is necessary. Without it, you will destroy your teeth.”

ME: “We’ve talked about this. I use cheap night guards from the States. They cost $15 and I just use a new one every couple of months. I’ve used night guards from the dentist before — they’re overpriced and they break just as fast as the cheap ones.”

DENTIST: “Well, if you like, we can send a letter to your insurance to see if it would be covered before you pay for it…”

ME: “Doc, I don’t want your night guard at all. Like, not even a little bit. And I don’t want to pay for that pink goo either.”

DENTIST: *Obviously surprised and uncomfortable* “Okay. We will only charge you for the examination and we will get someone in here to clean your teeth right now.”

ME: “Thank you.”

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“This is me: a HIGHLY agitated manchild.” — Photo by Bill Ward (http://www.flickr.com/photos/billward/)

Now, I don’t typically get angry with healthcare professionals. It takes just the right sequence of events to piss me off — like condescension and linguistic misunderstandings followed by a poor night’s sleep — before I show any real anger. But when I do, I’ve been told it’s pretty scary.

So with great haste, the dentist sent someone in to clean my teeth, and guess who it was? The receptionist who made this jacked up appointment in the first place. She proceeded to explain to me — in rapid German, and with her hands perched on her knees like one would when speaking to a child — that the misunderstanding was my fault because I hadn’t used the correct word for ‘professional tooth cleaning.’ (It’s Zahnreinigung, by the way. I guess they failed to cover that in my German class for completely retarded immigrants.)

So this tubby bitch proceeds to clean my teeth about as well as a monkey with a screwdriver. She barely touched them, skipped over a few entirely and never once used any water. My mouth was so dry my lips started to split, and I was left to swallow all the blood, tooth paste and fluoride left over. She even left a piece of dental floss (as I would discover later at home) stuck between my lower front teeth. The whole time she worked, she talked to me in lightspeed German, punctuating each sentence with a smirk, asking, “Do you understand?” I could ignore her personality flaws, but holy shit, I have never experienced a teeth cleaning with so little enthusiasm and basic proficiency in all my life. I would have had cleaner teeth if I took a nosedive into an empty concrete pool. My teeth would have been cleaner if I tied a blindfold around my head, pounded a 5th of tequila and stabbed at my gums with an ice pick. “Look honey! I’m a dentist! Herp-a-derp-derp-derp!”

So this repellant little goblin, hands me some dental floss and a couple miniature tubes of toothpaste and sends me on my way. I walked down the hall, jerked my coat off the hanger and made for the door. If this had been a sequence in a cartoon, you would have seen flames shooting out of my ears. Just as I was about to push the door open, I heard an entirely different receptionist woman calling to me — one who was not privy to all which had transpired.

NEW RECEPTIONIST: *Speaking in German* “Sir? Would you like us to go ahead and get that night guard ordered for you?”

ME: “No. Never. Goodbye.”

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t given that poor woman such an intense death stare, followed by the harshest goodbye of her life, but I couldn’t help it; I was in a fugue state and unaccountable for my actions.

I now realize this entire experience at the dentist was mostly my fault, as I am an American with inadequate German skills living in Germany. My speaking proficiency should be better and I am working diligently to improve it. However, there is no excuse for being a dickhole to someone who is trying to learn your language. I believe that dizzy hooker who made the appointment for me did so knowing I was unsure what I was agreeing to; she just wanted to teach me a little lesson on proper German vocabulary. This is why I have purchased a set of fake hillbilly teeth, so the next time I walk past the dentist office, I can point at her and scream, “YOU DID THIS TO ME! NOW NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME AGAIN!”

My German Wife’s First Encounter with ‘Kitchen Kaboodle’ in Portland, Oregon

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“That spoon costs $25? BAW HAW HAW HAW HAW! Oh, you’re serious…” — Photo by Thomas (http://www.flickr.com/photos/_-o-_/)

Shortly after we were married, The Wife and I opened our wedding presents and were immediately shocked into generosity-comas. We were very grateful for the gifts we received from our friends and family members, especially because we were about to move to Germany and start a new life there. We needed all the help we could get. But before we left the States, we had to make use of the gifts we would not be able to use in Germany, like the $50 gift certificate we received to Kitchen Kaboodle.

Kitchen Kaboodle is a locally-owned kitchen, furniture and bath store with five locations in Portland, Oregon. It’s actually very well known for its wide selection of quality products, all of which are so far beyond our budget they’re practically in orbit. The word ‘kaboodle’ comes from the expression, “the whole kit and caboodle,” which can be interpreted to mean, “everything and more.” It’s a funny sounding name, so you can imagine my German wife asking me, as we parked our car and crossed NW 23rd…

THE WIFE: “So what do they sell there at Kitchen Kah-Doo-Del?”

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

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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!

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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