Call Me. Maybe.

My phone was stolen in a Starbucks.

My phone was sitting (as all phones begin to take on properties and characteristics of humans – what’s the word) –

sitting next to me, minding its own business until I needed it as a Wörterbuch (dictionary).

I should note that this happened in Berlin, near Checkpoint Charlie, in a very busy, touristy Starbucks.  Not that you can’t have your phone stolen at Niagara Falls, Canada or anywhere in Zurich.*  You probably can.

And after my phone was stolen I went with my tandem German-English partner to the local police station.  Needless to say, that went as expected, except in German.

Me:  Hi, good evening.  I want to report that my generic Samsung was stolen.  (translated to the policeman)

Policeman: (in German) You are the 18th person to report a phone stolen today.  Let me guess.  A guy or gal came up, put a piece of paper in front of your face, on which was written that they needed urgent help, and as you were trying to answer, that person left, cleverly picking up the phone behind the paper.

Me: Yes, I think. (translated to the policeman)

Policeman:  (in German) Here is a report to fill out.  But listen, that phone is in the trash somewhere.  All they want is the – insert a bunch of tech words, which, believe it or not, were mostly in English and I still don’t know what he was saying – but of course we will call if someone turns it in.

Me: Ok.

*That whole sentence is written as a joke, on the off chance that you are reading this AND/OR live there AND/OR know that these are relatively safe places AND/OR need another introduction to my sense of humor.

Note 1 – In case you missed it, most of what I said had to be translated to the policeman by my tandem partner.

Note 2 – Policeman was serious and not sarcastic/snotty.  Everything, including that I was the 18th person to report a phone that was stolen that day, was said in a completely matter-of-fact voice.

What you are really interested in, I bet, is the outcome.  As I have become very familiar with a bit of German bureaucracy, I am ever hopeful that someone is indeed working on my case. There are 18 people ahead of me.

(And yes, it appears I will bounce between Germany and the US, as it suits.  Ugh. Sorry.)

CREDITS:  Oh my, well, the list definitely includes my non-city slicker inattention and choosing a seat by the door.

TAGS: #callmemaybe, #jokesonyou, #thatphoneisoldANDAmerican, #ibarelyknowhowtouseit, #havefunchargingthebatteryevery2hours, #berlin, #Achtung, #leichtgläubigerIdiot, #howtobeatouristinyourowncity-lesson1







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Baby, how you been?

I want to jump back in.

But after a couple of years, I’m feeling rusty.

So I just threw out the previous post and this one contains some basic info.  And a Van Halen video.

Also, it is difficult to determine where the jumping point actually is.  Is it specific? Random?  Do I need to tie this back to the last thing I wrote? (Have I ever done that? And when was that? Are hyperlinks still a thing?)   Could someone just push me?

I’ll start now.  I’ll work back.  Maybe I’ll work a little forward.

I might change my writing style a bit.  Maybe I won’t.

move back jump in 08-2018

MySpouse and I moved back to New Jersey from (the city that was really starting to become our home) Berlin, Germany.

The reason?  Because a trifecta began to take shape…

-New visas would be needed soon.

-The commute was really starting to wear mySpouse down.

-I should get a second surgery.

And I really suck at gambling … so, we came back.

(Ah, might as well jump.)



Look!  Van Halen is amazing!

Look!  I can still draw stuff!


#jump, #vanhalen, #berlin, #newjersey, #moving, #icantbelievehowmuchmovingsucks, #didiusethewordtrifectacorrectly?, #surgery, #cliff-hanger

DEFINITIONS:  (wikitionary, edited to suit me of course)

trifecta: 1) a bet on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-place finishers in a horse race, 2) three awesome things, 3) three terrible things, 4) one party holding the presidency, the Senate and the House — depending on your perspective, #4 also refers to #2 or #3.

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Move back

We were a bit more clever on the move back to the States than the move to Berlin – mySpouse packed extra stuff in his suitcase when he would go back to the States to start a work trip.  Then he would drop it all off at our storage space (shout-out to #LibertySelfStorage in Jersey City, NJ) that we’ve had since we decided to move to Berlin four years ago – for all the things we couldn’t/didn’t want to take with us like furniture, dishes, dirty laundry, bikes, art, Commune secrets (I was going to hyperlink that to another post, but I don’t seem to have written anything? Don’t worry.  I will write more stuff and then forget to link it.) and books.

This worked beautifully, for a time.

underweight suitcase

And then we realized he would need about 17 extra years of back-and-forth trips plus an ‘over-the-top’ and ‘not-fair-to-anyone-but-us’ type of understanding from the employees at Berlin’s Tegel** Airport.

So we started shipping.  The first box was our winter coats.  We chose them because they are relatively light, and it’s summer so I was fairly certain even if they didn’t arrive for 4 months, we wouldn’t miss them.

The box ended up being oversized, and we had to ship through a service that was not Deutsche Post (the regular ‘post office’ office).  (Don’t worry; I’m sure there will be other Deutsche Post posts.)  Let’s just say this was more expensive than planned.  We (by we, I mean mySpouse) went back to the (sucky but free!) schlepping between Berlin and Newark plan.

But with the move-back deadline approaching, and a growing number of things we were realizing we couldn’t just shove in a suitcase, we had to do something.  So, we reluctantly went back Deutsche Post shipping.  And shipping things that were unfortunately (A LOT) heavier than coats-in-a-box boxes.

only bücher

Here’s a not-funny story.  Our ‘get-by’ German has gotten much better (broadly speaking) – even at the Post.  When we brought our final four boxes to the post office to be shipped, the postal employee looked at one of our contents slips, which indicated it was chock full of books*, and remarked, Bücher? Für Bücher haben wir ein cheaper special rate.  Oh vell.  Nächste time.”  This only makes me wish my ‘get-by’ German was terrible (which is to say, it is.  Because maybe I could’ve had a conversation AT ANY OTHER POINT THAT MONTH about box contents).

Also, she said ALL of her German in German, but, as you can see from my terrible jerk-wad faux-translation, I don’t really deserve the cheaper special rate.


They are part of my core, ink and (mis-remembered) quotes running in my bloodstream. I certainly haven’t read enough, or all the ‘right’ ones.  I couldn’t tell you what’s a must-read.  I dog-ear the pages, top and bottom, to mark my place and to remember to look up words and phrases I don’t know.  I stack them with intention and recommend with reluctance.  I read in the tub.  I read other people’s borrowed books in the tub.  I write in the margins and comment and underline and argue with the characters and authors.  I sincerely read the epigraphs and introductions – and most of the acknowledgements – and I love footnotes (at the bottom of the page, don’t make me turn to the back, you know who you are!), especially the ones that run towards the tangential.  And I always finish the story, even when I don’t want to. (Here’s lookin’ at you, Tolstoy.)

I’ve been reading a lot of books about Berlin recently.  You might think that I should’ve been doing this all along.  You would be right.

Oh. And my first surgery in March went fine.


**I’m not a reliable witness, history buff, etc. but Tegel Airport is an interesting story.  When we moved to Berlin in July 2014, Tegel Airport was (and currently still is) in the middle of a huge construction ‘scandal.’  This huge scandal is … wait for it…that construction is not finished on the new BER airport, so Tegel remains open. 

Here’s some history:  Tegel Airport, in the north of Berlin, was a hunting ground until the early 1900s when it was used as an airship testing facility.  Used in both World Wars, but basically destroyed after WWII, it was slated to become community gardens. However, in 1948/1949, the Cold War was starting, and the other airport at the time, Templehof (non-operational as an airport as of 2008), wasn’t big enough to transport goods to the cut-off West Berlin.  Tegel was once again thrown into full operation to accommodate the US-led Berlin Airlift.*** In May 1949, the USSR lifted restrictions on West Berlin, but the Cold War flames were only beginning to be fanned.**** 

As of this post, Tegel Airport (aka Otto Lilienthal Airport*****) continues to serve millions of people and has a huge fan base of support against its closure (including me and mySpouse).  The new airport, BER, should have opened in 2012, but has been updated to 2021.  Maybe someone just transposed the numbers?

***The Berlin Airlift is a whole other tangent.  You should make a note in your margin to read about it and curse this author who didn’t write you another footnote.

****For that matter, the Cold War, which tumbled to the beginning of its end with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, German reunification in 1990, and USSR dissolve in 1991-1992, is also a good tangent.  Make more margin notes-to-self.

*****If you are interested, google Otto Lilienthal (pronounced lily-n-tall).  He’s considered Germany’s ‘Father of Flight’ and an influence on the Wright Brothers.

*It was not.  But do you know the German words for ‘cheese grater‘ and ‘decorative ribbons which are unused but I wish to keep, to the chagrin of a loved one‘?

************I’m pretty sure I have royally screwed up this post by using footnotes.


Look! I can draw a picture of impending divorce.  (He can’t divorce me in Germany.  I think.)

Look! I can draw pictures of an ex-pat idiot committing mail fraud in the Post post office.

TAGS: #berlin, #moving, #berlintojersey, #shipping, #postoffice, #DeutschePost, #books, #igot99problemsandshippingisthemostexpensive, #footnotes, #howdoiusefootnotescorrectly,  #TegelAirport, #TXL, #Tegelhistory, #scandal, #scandalhasadifferentmeaninginEnglish, #ColdWar, #OttoLilienthal, #tangents, #surgery, #cliff-hanger

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More Things I Do: Tandem Fandom

I have a tandem partner.  This person helps me learn German, and I help her learn English, mostly through really mixed up conversation.  I’m not sure how much either of us is learning, but we always have a good time.

You can find a random tandem person on a random tandem website.  (Yes, I did that deliberately.)  Beware.  (Not of me.  Of random tandem.  Which might turn into one-night standems.  Which usually creates personal bedlam.  Ok, I’m finished singing this tandem anthem, which might lose me my 5-person fandom.)

Many tandem sites look like really bad dating websites with seemingly half-finished profiles, and are overwhelmingly occupied by men.  (I guess women prefer less random tandem.  OK STOP NOW.)  Actually, my tandem partner is a former student of mine, and she is the one who suggested that finding a tandem partner might help me learn German conversationally.  Like I said, the sites are a bit weird, some want you to register (nothing’s free) and well, I just don’t have to enough willpower to lower my annoyance level to register for ONE. MORE. SITE. AND. REMEMBER. ANOTHER. PASSWORD.

So I never did.  Thank God her company’s contract ended and she asked me if I’d like to get coffee and chat.

ich bin ein berliner

Fun fact:  ‘Fast’ means ‘Almost,’ not ‘Wow!  You are really learning German quickly!’


Look!  I can draw pictures in German.

TAGS:  Deutsch ist schwer, Making friends, Someone needs a drink and it might not be me



Filed under myGermanSkillz, mzBerlin

What I Do. And Don’t Do.

I’m not sure if I have stated exactly what I am doing over here.  American in Berlin.  Maybe because we have only recently paid our 2014 taxes, and for ‘artistic license’ purposes, pretend that I am only telling half-truths, instead of federal life-in-prison for tax evasion truths.

I’m working as a free-lance English teacher.  Yes, I love it.  No, I do not look that cool doing it, as seemingly every other person in Berlin does.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I sweat.  You would swear I might be recovering from and/or just beginning a new form of influenza.  I get asked regularly if I need to use the restroom to clean up, as if I hadn’t just come from there.

In New Jersey, at my normal office job, I would drive in my lovely air-conditioned car to my lovely air-conditioned office.  No more.  I am the poster-child for public transport now.  (Except I look like a missing child, rather than a commuter.  It’s not funny, but neither is sitting next to me.)

A thing about Germans.  They wear ‘season-appropriate’ clothing.  Which, under normal circumstances, is the appropriate thing to do.  My stress comes from, and then causes me to sweat even more, things like:  when it is a bit warm for November.  No matter – everyone in down coats.  When we have some spring-like temperatures in January?  Wool scarves.  

So I am forever taking off my scarf and light sweater in 18? -3? degree weather – I still don’t know how to tell time or temperature in European / rest-of-the-world style – in the U-Bahn, causing a bit of consternation.  (It’s not uncalled-for consternation;  most consternation is well-intentioned.  Yes, I had to look it up.  I’ll save you:    Consternation is a noun that can stop you in your tracks because it means “a sudden, alarming amazement or dread that results in utter confusion; dismay.”

So not only am I a sweaty person, but also someone who clearly doesn’t follow the rules.  (Well, see above. Taxes.)

And that’s some of what I do, and don’t do, here.

ubahn sweats

Wow!  I’ve got my own car today!  (Except for the wildlife…)


Look!  I can look up words for you.  No problem for helping.

Look!  I can draw pictures of commuting!  And sweating!

TAGS: humor, ubahn, berlin, mzberlin, #türnichtgeöffnet, sweat





Filed under myMalcontent, mzBerlin

Hallo (middle of) Oktober!

It would be a massive lie to tell you, dear readers, that I haven’t had the time to write because I am busy doing stuff with things.  But, to paraphrase my all-time favorite movie, ‘it’s already out there’ so let’s let it lie, okay?

I could’ve said, ‘Well, we ARE living in Europe so we are doing as the Europeans do and this is how Europeans take vacations – from February to August for Easter and summer, with another small break from October to January for Oktoberfest and Christmas – but I feel like that statement seems like too broad of a stereotype…and everyone knows Oktoberfest actually begins in September.
(By the way, you can make Oktoberfest 2016 plans here.  There is even a countdown clock!)
Additionally, I wanted to mention something about the never-ending Fußball season but I’m afraid the joke wouldn’t be taken as such.  But why should I care?  Everyone is on vacation watching Fußball!
And more importantly, we should discuss Halloween.
Fun fact that you already know, Halloween is an American import which Germans love.  (This based on a small sample.)
But who wouldn’t?  A great reason to overeat candy, dressed as someone or something else?  It doesn’t make sense 363 other days a year.  (I have my suspicions about the Easter bunny, but somehow I think a party serving ‘Bunny Brains’ as finger food might be looked down upon.  For now.  Have faith and give the capitalist spirit a few more years!)
bunny brains:
But fun fact that you probably didn’t (and I definitely did not) know: 

Shortly after the Civil War, two young brothers came to America from their family home in the Harz Mountain region of Germany. There were thousands like them, part of the huge wave of European immigration that began in the 1830s and would well into the 20th century.

Gustav Goelitz and his younger brother Albert traveled to Illinois to join an uncle who had emigrated in 1834. Within two years, Gustav, 24 and Albert, 21 opened a candy making business in a Belleville, Illinois storefront.

…. When the income tax was introduced in 1913, (m)any (businesses) failed, but Goelitz was already firmly established. Butter creams, later known as mellocremes, were the primary products of the company. While licorice, chocolates and peppermints were also available, butter creams kept the business growing for the next five decades. The single best seller? Candy Corn.

According to tradition, candy corn was invented in the 1880s. Company records show Goelitz making candy corn by 1900.

…Although candy production is now aided by computers and machinery, the essential process and the secret Goelitz Candy Corn recipe remain the same today.

I don’t know about you, but our house has an argument EVERY YEAR about candy corn.  Why?  Because, marriage.  So mySpouse INSISTS it is tradition and we have to buy some.  (And now he will read this post and be correct.   This is REALLY poor precedent-setting.)  All I can say is, thankfully, these guys also invented Jelly Belly jelly beans.
Honest Pumpkin gives you reasons to overeat Halloween candy.

Honest Pumpkin gives you reasons to overeat Halloween candy.

Look!  Thanks youtube for always providing assistance –
 Look!  I still draw stuff!  Barely.
Tags:  Halloween, Honest Pumpkin, Germany, candy corn is not candy, mySpouse will not win this argument

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Eat (a LOT of pasta), Pray (you can still fit into your pants), Love (Rome)

So a good reason to move is to get a new perspective.  Sitting on your couch with the newly approved Deutsche Netflix is not a new perspective.

We decided to go to Rome.


Back story:  we have been “trying” to go to Rome since we moved to Jersey.  Something always came up.  No seats on the plane because summer travel.  No seats on the plane because everyone wants to see the newly elected Pope.  Then, they wanted to see the new, newly elected Pope.  (Who are we kidding?  I want to meet Papa Franciscus!  He has Twitter feeds in every language! – in English, you can reach him @Pontifex)  Or there were special holidays.  Or the euro was too expensive.  Also, the flight from EWR is 4 million hours long.  And every Jerseryan knows Florida is more fun in February than anywhere in the world, especially since hurricane season is over.


(Something I just realized…Florida and Italy are similar shapes!)


Current story:  from Berlin, Rome is now less than a 2 hour flight and 1/2 hour train ride into the heart of Romulus’ 3 million residents, country (Vatican City is a COUNTRY!?!?!! who knew? … apparently lots of people who are not me)-within-city, over 2500 years old, city.  (Yes, I learned all this stuff very recently; thank you, mySpouse).

airberlin was awesome

airberlin was awesome

We left on Wednesday afternoon and we were drinking wine and eating pizza by 7 pm.  This is because you cannot eat before 7 pm, and I know because I was trying to figure out how to eat pizza as soon as we got to the airport.

Let me clarify.  You can eat gelato or drink espresso at any time, but restaurants generally do not open for dinner until 7.   (The guys in Berlin who sell wursts from back-strapped grills would make a fortune in Rome.  If they would add pizza, and wine.)  It seemed like breakfasts were generally light – we normally had breakfast at the hotel (except one day when we decided to try the ‘American’ breakfast down the street for fun).

Later that evening, we walked to the Colosseum.

Makes you understand why being a Gladiator would've been awesome, though probably terrifyingly short.

Makes you understand why being a Gladiator would’ve been awesome, though terrifyingly short.    Note: I could not find Russell Crowe anywhere.

The next day, we saw a lot.  I am not going to pretend I listened to mySpouse for the 9 hours we walked around Rome.  (He would say that would pulverize my current record of 15 minutes, so no, no one would believe it.  Also, I am too close to a lot of things about Jesus so I need to keep my exaggerating to a minimum.)

Believe it or not, the lines for things are relatively short in February.  This one for St.Peter's Basilica was timed at about 2 hours.

Believe it or not, the lines for things are relatively short in February. This one for St.Peter’s Basilica was timed at about 2 hours.

The tour guides in Vatican City are a gauntlet, for which there is no amount of mental preparation you could do.  Harmless enough themselves, they use alarmist phrases like, ‘Skip the 45 hour wait time in the line!‘ and ‘You will pee in the open shamefully’ and ‘It’s not our fault you are too lazy to reserve tickets to one of the most visited places in the world.  You know, being lazy is a deadly sin.  We’re just sayin’ is all.’

We actually decided to try and get up earlier the next day, since it was already 12:30.  Unfortunately, everyone else decided to do this too, but on the bright side, the wait was only 40 hours.  (It wasn’t really, but the story is much more fun this way.  In fact, everything was less than a 2 hour wait.  Although, we were told this is not high tourist season, so I might not be exaggerating after all.)  It was worth the wait to see the Pope’s pad.

Inside St. Peter's

Inside St. Peter’s

It was worth the wait and the optional obstacle course provided.

It was worth the wait and the optional obstacle course provided.

View from the top

View from the top.

This is exhausting.  I need some espresso and gelato.  More to follow.


Look!  Maps!  One of mySpouse’s favorite things – and

Look!  Funny Florida quotes!

Look!  Fun with panoramic view on my camera!

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