Tag Archives: Writing

A Writer’s Dream Fulfilled: The Day I Met Patrick Rothfuss at the Leipzig Book Fair


The man. The myth. The sweaty legend.

Patrick Rothfuss is my personal hero. He wrote a book called The Name of the Wind, which is by far the most beautiful fantasy novel I have ever read. He revised it 400 times and spent a decade bringing it to perfection before it was even published. The god damn thing reads so smoothly it’s like printed velvet. The ideas contained within are so clever you’ll wonder how you managed to live your entire life without licking a light socket. And you know what Rothfuss did once his book hit the shelves and went supernova? He started a charity. It’s called World Builders, and it feeds money into Heifer International.


Oh yes. I am a HUGE nerd.

I’ve been blabbing at my German wife about Patrick Rothfuss for years, and not even in a healthy, admiring sort of way — but in a totally creepy, dilated pupils, gay as hell sort of way. So as my last birthday was approaching, I casually mentioned Rothfuss would be, “in Leipzig for some kind of book thingie,” and my wife went to work planning the greatest birthday gift ever: the chance to meet my idol and have him sign my copy of The Name of the Wind.

The event was called the Leipzig Book Fair (or Leipziger Buchmesse) — an annual convention in the city of Leipzig, just shy of 3 hours by train southeast of our home in Hannover, Germany — and my wife handled everything: the train tickets, event tickets and all of the logistics. She only made one mistake, and that was taking me out for drinks the night before.


This sign is like a siren song for my eyeballs.

We went to our favorite pub, Bavarium, and drank an inhuman amount of pilsner, then woke up the next day at 5:00 in the morning. What followed was the longest train ride of my life. We were crammed into a tiny cabin and it was freezing cold — probably because the greasy nerd next to the window was blocking the heater with one of his gargantuan thighs. There was another nerd, this one a college professor straight out of the 70s, who kept snapping his newspaper open and closed — refolding it so loudly no one in the cabin could sleep. Then there was the fact that I had the trots so bad I was sure I would load my shorts. It was like trying to staunch a biblical flood with nothing but blind faith and my tiny, puckering anus. I could not solve the problem, however, because I am physically incapable of dropping trow anywhere but in the comfort of my own bathroom at home. (I’m the kind of guy who likes to sit there for at least 20 minutes — or until both my legs fall asleep. Whichever happens first.)


Also, I sometimes wear white socks with dark shoes and jeans. You’re not better than me!

So we finally rolled into Leipzig, but to be honest with you, I have no idea what the city really looks like; it was a very rainy, very gray sort of day, so everything looked scary to me. Like, former DDR, Soviet Bloc scary. We got off the train and walked to the convention center, quickly finding ourselves lost in a sea of Manga costumes. Apparently, one entire hall of the fair was dedicated to Japanese comic books, and German teenagers from across the country were flocking there to out-nerd one another (and show off a whole lot of shockingly, snow-blindingly white skin).


Main entrance to the Messe. This is why you want to purchase tickets ahead of time.


So many nerds… their perspiration literally fogged up the windows.


In situations like these, unoccupied chairs become an unbelievable luxury.


My wife is a teacher, so of course we had to stop by the education hall too. Ugh. Just the sight of so many text books made me itchy.

We navigated to the main entrance, found the hall where all the Fantasy writers were, and discovered an insanely long line of people waiting for signatures from Patrick Rothfuss. (Seriously, the line doubled back on itself twice, with an anticipated wait time of 2 hours.) Still, we joined the queue and the countdown began.

I was so nervous my palms started sweating and my wife had to hold my book so my salty nerd filth wouldn’t destroy it. Now, please understand, I don’t normally feel starstruck; I once met James Avery, who played Will Smith’s dad on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. I shook the late Jerome Kersey’s hand at a fundraising event in Portland, Oregon. And I’m about 85% sure I saw Lily Tomlin walking past a cheese store in Beverly Hills. What I’m saying here is, when it comes to spotting celebrities, I’m generally not impressed. They’re either so egotistical they look right past me when I meet them (I call this the, “You-Are-but-an-Insect-to-Me, Is-there-Anyone-More-Important-Here?” gaze), or they’re so accustomed to blind adoration they have lost touch with reality and gone completely, 100%, batshit insane. But this was not the case with Rothfuss; when I finally saw him, I completely lost my shit. I felt nauseous, giddy, lightheaded and completely overwhelmed — like I was staring into the holy glow of a chubby, bearded angel.

He was wearing his trusty black Serenity t-shirt and signing books with Teutonic efficiency. He had the system down, man. One assistant was selling new books, the next one was checking fan books to make sure they had Post-it notes inside showing the intended recipient’s name, and then the books were handed over to Rothfuss for signing. You had about 10 seconds to stand in front of him before the next ravenous nerd gave you an elbow to the kidneys.


10… 9… 8…

Suddenly the path was clear and I stepped in front of my favorite author in the world. My heart was pounding and I desperately needed to fart. Here’s how our “conversation” went, word for word:

ME: “Hi, I’m from Portland, Oregon, and I’m a big fan of yours.”

ROTHFUSS: *Looking down, saying nothing, signing my book.*

ME: *Starting to panic, thinking, Obviously the man is trying not to screw up your name as he writes it. He has to sign like a thousand books today. But maybe he just didn’t hear me? Keep the line moving, weirdo. Stop talking now.*
“Uh, have you ever done a signing at Powell’s Books?”

ROTHFUSS: *Glancing up at me.* “Oh yeah. Portland is a great town.”

ME: *Meeting his gaze and suddenly feeling like I’m either going to burst into tears or throw up violently.*
“Well, you’re my absolute favorite author and I really admire your work with World Builders.”

ROTHFUSS: “Oh, thank you.”

ME: “Thank you! Have a great day!”


At the moment this picture was taken, Pat was looking me RIGHT in the eyes. Eeeep!

And that was it. I slid one of my Oh God, My Wife Is German business cards next to the pile of other fan gifts and picked up my book. My wife told me to hold still for the camera but he was already signing books for the next person in line. (The picture was epic though: it’s all blurry and I was in mid-blink, so it looks like I’m about to pass out in front of a thoroughly uncaring Patrick Rothfuss.)

As my wife and I walked over to a nearby wall to rearrange our things, the adrenalin wore off and I started shaking like a drug addict. Like, visibly quaking. My wife even held my hands so she could feel it. Man, I could hardly string two coherent words together, so I just focused on drinking my probiotic yogurt smoothie and trying not to black out.

Hours later, after the fair was over, my wife and I took the S-Bahn to the Leipzig Hauptbahnhof. This is the conversation we had as we waited for the train back to Hannover:

ME: *Asking for the thousandth time…* “What do you think Pat is doing right now?”

THE WIFE: “Probably eating dinner.”

ME: “Yeah… I bet he’s at some fancy restaurant with one of the organizers of the book fair. Maybe some of the other famous authors too…”

THE WIFE: “I think he’s eating a cheeseburger in his hotel room.”


If you would like to read another one of my adventures as an American expat in Germany, check this one out: The Top 10 Worst Things about Joining a Gym in Germany

InterNations: An American Expat Answers Questions About Living in Germany

internations-logo– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Life as an American Expat in Germany, an Interview
with Oh God, My Wife Is German.

Conducted by InterNations
October, 2014

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Germany, etc.

I am an American expat from Portland, Oregon, now living in Hannover, Germany. I moved here in September of 2012 in order to be with my wife, who is just German as all hell.

New Town Hall, Hannover, Germany

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I’ve attempted to maintain one blog or another since 2001. None of them lasted because I just didn’t have the motivation, but this all changed when I met my wife. I thought she was hilarious – whether she meant to be or not – and I made a habit of writing down her more memorable “denglish” quotes. I had no idea I would ever share these things with the world. When it all started, I just thought I was collecting little inside jokes for she and I to laugh about in bed while we farted under the covers. Her quotes soon became the inspiration for the blog and — much to my surprise — readers seemed to enjoy them as much as we did. (The quotes, I mean. Not the farts.)

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

You know, I’ve never understood what makes one post more popular than another. Some of my absolute favorite posts have tanked, while weaker ones have gone on to be reblogged and republished in numerous places. But there is one fairly recent post which amused me more than the rest: How to Convince Your Neighbors You Are A Thief and An Alcoholic (In One Simple Gesture)

vodka bottle in germany

Tell us about the ways your new life in Germany differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

For me, the single biggest difference between life back in the States and life as an expat in Germany is boredom. That is to say, boredom no longer exists. Every day is different, especially as I attempt to live using a second language. And as for culture shock, oh my yes, I have a whole blog category relating my experiences in this arena. Here is just one post of many: Culture Shock 15: The Batshit Insane Ways in Which Germans Tell Time (And Why I Hate Them For It)

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Germany? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

There is no way anyone can fully prepare for a life change like this. You do the best you can – learning as much of the language, culture and history as possible – then dive in headfirst. Where do you find a job? An apartment? Friends? Forget it; these things will take care of themselves. And no matter if the transition goes smoothly or not, I guarantee you it will be hilarious.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

This is precisely what my blog is all about, from my wife’s time in America, to my time here in Germany. One anecdote does come to mind, however, but it has long since been lost in the archives of my blog. I think like 12 people read it at the time. It was called, New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Vomiting in the Big Apple

New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Voliting in New York City

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Germany?

1: Learn the language.

2: Bring certified, notarized copies of everything.

3: Watch out for bikes.

How is the expat community in Germany? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

The expat community here is great. There are groups meeting up all the time – English-speaking ones, especially. My biggest problem is bothering to go at all. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that I’m lazy and awkward. Socializing makes me tired. What I really want to do is watch the latest season of Game of Thrones with my wife, drink a couple of brew doggies and pass out on the couch.

 How would you summarize your expat life in Germany in a single, catchy sentence?

“Tearless grief bleeds inwardly.”

— Christian Nevell Bovee

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Check out InterNations for great expat networking and social opportunities at www.internations.org

And if you’d like to find out more about life as an American expat in Germany, check out some of our other posts, like this one: Culture Shock 5: Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany

American Expat Celebrates 2nd Year Living in Germany


“Every party has its casualties.”

Holy monkey! It’s been 2 years since I packed up all my crap and flew to Germany. Honestly, I thought I’d been here for 3 years, but my German wife reminded me it only feels that way. Anyway, to celebrate last night, we made a pizza, uncorked a bottle of wine and watched a movie. (Which actually means we tossed some extra onions on a frozen pizza, unscrewed a €2 euro bottle of Merlot while the movie started playing and then passed right the fuck out.)

Early the next morning, my wife interrupted my precious Earl Grey time by attempting to show me how I would be cleaning the house after she starts teaching again next week. She pushed a broom around the living room, explaining how I would actually need to lift the furniture in order to sweep beneath it. That’s when she knocked the broom handle into one of our empty wine glasses from the night before. *DONG, smash!* The sound it made as it shattered was like music to my ears.

“HAW HAW!” I laughed, pointing. “Do you realize if I had done that, you would be all super pissed right now? But look at me! I don’t even care! Please learn from my example.” That earned a grudging smile and a quiet chuckle from my wife as she continued sweeping, albeit without the verbal instruction. (Gentlemen readers, I ask you to examine the picture above. Notice how perfectly the glass shattered, yet retained its overall shape? This is the most beautiful example of household justice you will ever see.)

The past 24 months here in Hannover, Germany, have been filled with moments like this; funny occurrences, jam-packed with adorable Denglish quotes and mortifying culture shock encounters. I can honestly say I have yet to experience even one dull moment in this fine country. Every day brought something new. There was that mandatory integration class to deal with, a terribly frustrating visit to the dentist, a surprise delivery from the mailman, the omnipresence of our evil old neighbors, and two memorable trips to the zoo. These are just a few of the adventures described here at Oh God, My Wife Is German, and you, my awesome readers, have been so gracious as to share them with us.

Thank you for reading and for always being so supportive. You’re just the best audience ever, and I look forward to (attempting) to make you laugh for years to come.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!


NOTE: If you have been reading this blog and commenting on our posts for a long time, please send me an email and let me know, because I would like to make sure I have a link to the blog or website of your choice in the sidebar section titled OUR FRIENDS.


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!

Inspirational Bloggers: Jonah Peretti, Author of Black People Love Us

Header graphic from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

The Top Humor Bloggers Who Inspired Me to Start my Own Blog, Part 3:

Jonah Peretti, Author of Black People Love Us!

I found this parody site back in the mid-2000s, and I never forgot it. It was written from the perspective of a fictitious and wildly naive white couple known as ‘Sally and Johnny,’ who flaunt the adoration they receive from their African-American friends through satirical quotes and photographs. Jonah Peretti wrote this site with a level of sarcasm far beyond anything I’d read online before. He highlighted modern racism through characters who were blissfully unaware of it, and the results were both insightful and hilarious. I read every single page of Black People Love Us in one sitting, and frequently returned in the years that followed.

Sally and Johnny from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

I’d never really seen such potentially divisive humor online before, and I definitely hadn’t seen it used so successfully. Using satire to highlight a subject like racism takes stones, and Jonah Peretti has great big ones. (I call them Perettiballs.) He made up these two endearingly ignorant characters — Sally and Johnny, who openly stereotype their black friends with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer — and put them out there on the internet as the poster children for modern racism. Not everyone understood his intent, of course, so the site received an impressive amount of hate mail, but Peretti showed no fear whatsoever, and I respected the hell out of that.

Some people took the site literally, and actually thought Sally and Johnny were a real couple, writing about their real black friends. I could not believe this. The hate mail left me dumbfounded. How could someone not get the joke? And how could someone fail to see the value in it? But then I realized something important; there are some serious morons out there, and no matter what you create, no matter how funny, cool, beautiful or insightful it may be, this portion of the population is going to trash it. Maybe they’ll take offense to it — maybe they won’t understand it or simply won’t like it — but the task of humor authors is to make people laugh, and criticism is part of the job. With Black People Love Us, Jonah Peretti taught me a lot about courage — about being unafraid to take chances with humor — and in so doing, gave my writing a big push forward.

Johnny from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

Here is a quote pulled from the site’s testimonials section:

“Johnny calls me ‘da man!’ That puts me at ease. It makes me feel comfortable, because I am Black and that’s how Black folks talk to one another.”

Here is another quote, also from the testimonials section:

“Sally’s always saying: ‘You go girl!’ while ‘raising the roof’ to mainstream hip-hop tracks at cheesy bars. That’s fun! I relate to that.”

Sally and Johnny from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

Black People Love Us was a huge internet hit when it went live, and it continues to thrive after all these years. A true internet pioneer, Jonah Peretti also wrote the massively-forwarded email thread, the Nike Sweatshop Emails, and he is a founding member of BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. The New York Times called him a “viral marketing hot dog,” (which is a creepily-worded compliment, in my opition, but a compliment all the same). Peretti is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab and a member of the New York based artist group Free Art and Technology Lab (a.k.a. FAT Lab).

Much like The Reverand (sic) Nathan Runkel of Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail and Robert Hamburger of The Official Ninja Webpage, Jonah Peretti was a major source of inspiration behind my decision to start a blog of my own, and Black People Love Us continues to influence my development as a humor writer to this very day.

You can follow Jonah Peretti on Twitter at @peretti, on Facebook at facebook.com/peretti and on BuzzFeed at buzzfeed.com/jonah.

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Inspirational Bloggers: Robert Hamburger, Author of The Official Ninja Webpage – Real Ultimate Power

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

The Top Humor Bloggers Who Inspired Me to Start my Own Blog, Part 2:

Robert Hamburger, Author of The Official Ninja Webpage – Real Ultimate Power

I found this site back in 2002, a year after I graduated from college. Listing various reasons why ninjas are the coolest and greatest beings on the planet, Robert Hamburger made me laugh out loud by listing ‘facts’ as seen through the adopted persona of a 13 year-old teenager. Through the characterization of this pseudonym, Hamburger wielded a very raw form of satire, which perfectly spotlighted the fan pages and internet homages celebrating all things awesome back in the early 2000s.

I loved the astronomical level of confidence with which he wrote. Without the slightest hint of doubt, the author would make a statement running on nothing but raw enthusiasm, throw a hundred exclamation points at it and then dare you to disagree. There was such power in his adolescent fury. He made me want to play along immediately, not only because of the boldness of his tone, but also because he reminded me of myself at age 13. I adored ninjas, monsters and super heroes of all kinds. I drew pictures of them, made up stories and played games — all with that same blind worship Hamburger imitated so effortlessly.

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

Robert Hamburger’s site taught me about the art of internet satire. It showed me how to form a fictional personality — to wear it like a mask — and generate boundless humor by writing about the way that personality views the world. Additionally, it taught me how to mock something by exaggerating it; to join in the chorus surrounding a certain subject and sing so loudly, so absurdly, one cannot be ignored. The Colbert Report is a great example of satire in which a fictional personality is adopted for the sake of exaggeration.

I read and reread The Official Ninja Webpage dozens of times. I had it bookmarked on my computer at work so I could read it every Monday morning, when the great machine of post-collegiate employment was just beginning to crush the life from my soul. I bought a Real Ultimate Power t-shirt — as did several of my friends — and wore it proudly for years. It was my absolute favorite article of clothing, and I wore it until the day I fell asleep too close to a campfire at the base of Mt. Hood and an ember exploded, showering me with sparks and riddling my ninja shirt with burn holes.

Image courtesy of cafepress.com and realultimatepower.net

Image courtesy of cafepress.com and realultimatepower.net

The Official Ninja Webpage received millions of hits and prompted interviews by Brown University, Citynet Magazine and Public Radio International. The site gained the attention of the New York Times, evoked countless internet memes and imitation sites, and spawned Real Ultimate Power, The Official Ninja Book, which became a cult hit, selling 35,000 copies in just 2 years. Robert Hamburger earned all of this attention and blazed the trail for other internet authors, like Tucker Max and Maddox, because he sat down one day and decided to spout off about the sweetness of ninjas.

Here is a quote pulled from the site’s introduction:

“Hi, this site is all about ninjas, REAL NINJAS. This site is awesome. My name is Robert and I can’t stop thinking about ninjas. These guys are cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet.”

Here is another quote. This one is from the Testimonial section:

“Ninjas are sooooooooooo sweet that I want to crap my pants. I can’t believe it sometimes, but I feel it inside my heart. These guys are totally awesome and that’s a fact. Ninjas are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet. I can’t wait to start yoga next year. I love ninjas with all of my body (including my pee pee).”

And finally, here is a quote from the Q and A section:

Q: I heard that ninjas are always cruel or mean. What’s their problem?
A: Whoever told you that is a total liar. Just like other mammals, ninjas can be mean OR totally awesome.

Much like The Reverand (sic) Nathan Runkel of Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail, Robert Hamburger does not update his site regularly. He does add to his news page from time to time, but not nearly often enough for diehard fans like me who started their own blogs with a massive dose of inspiration from The Official Ninja Webpage.

You can follow Robert Hamburger on Twitter at @RobertHamburger and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/RealUltimatePowerVid.


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