Monday, February 13, 2006
Germany, Day One: "What Is All this White Stuff, and Why Is it Making Me Cold?"
Perhaps I should start on the day before this one.
Sunday morning, I woke up at three, so that by the time we got over the Atlantic I would be comatose. This was, of course, a genius plan from a genius mind.
My mom, after engaging with me in a classically useless verbal spat, drove me to the good ole Baton Rouge metro airport.
Yes, Baton Rouge has an airport.
No, my mother did not drive me to this airport in an airboat.
The airboat is for short distances only.
At the airport, I met Robker's sister Stephanie.
Here comes several important explanations:
Robker is one of two dudes I hosted a radio show with on KLSU. We also share several things in common, such as a mental superiority over the human race, and an uncanny ability to be so awesome that for some reason no girls were romantically involved with us. As of now, though, Robker has a girlfriend. Come on, Robker, how could you sell me out like that?
Robker is his last name. His first name is Jon.
KLSU is LSUs radio station.
Robker was in Germany for grad-school purposes.
Prelim explans end.
Stephanie is a very interesting person. She is a librarian like me, except she is full time, has a master's, has twice as much responsibility as me, and (deservedly) makes more money. Stephanie and I both have a similar problem. We enjoy speaking. This initially set me off because she took control of the first conversation. Usually, I have to do that, so it took me a little while to warm up to her (which probably happened sometime during the international flight).
Anyway, on the plane I listened to my favorite album, U2's "The Unforgettable Fire", and began reading James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man". I enjoyed this book at first because it fit the Irish feel of the music.
When Stephanie saw what I was reading, she said, "Why don't you just kill yourself?"
Yeah, what do you know, I thought*.
After landing in Memphis, we then caught a flight for Detroit. Upon arriving in Detroit, we found out that our plane was leaving in two seconds. Defying all laws of time, space, and decency, we somehow made it to the plane on time.
Thankfully, the international flight was not very full. Stephanie and I basically each had a row to ourself. Sweet.
Anyway, I spent the remainder of the day completing a long-time goal of listening to Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" (My third favorite album) while flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Somewhere below Greenland, midnight passed, and day one began.
I was told to get as much sleep on the eight-hour plus International flight as I could. This is why I only slept for two hours the night before. The plan, while genius in its conception, failed. I slept approximately zero hours. The child in front of me would not stop laughing. The German girls behind me would not stop chattering in a language where the only words I could understand were "Jimmy", "Eat", and "World".
I decided to eat sunflower seeds and watch Friday Night Lights, the only plane film I hadn't seen that I felt like seeing. It had an Explosions in the Sky soundtrack (I really like them), and it actually made football look like a flawed, brutal game. I enjoyed it. But sleeping would have been better, and that just didn't happen.
After flying right under Iceland and right over Ireland and the U.K., we passed over Amsterdam. In the middle of the night Amsterdam looked like a giant, electronically yellow-glowing heart with veins leading out to brilliant but lesser organs. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my camera, though I'm sure this would not have come out well in a picture. A few hours later, we landed in Frankfurt. In the airport, I went to a money exchange and gasped in horror as the Euro got behind my American dollar, pulled its pants down, and had a rowdy old time. This made me have a brief but horrific existential crisis.
Robker, after searching for a while, found Stephanie and me. Robker's first words to me are not printable in this, a family-blog, but they involved how ridiculously confusing Frankfurt's airport is.
The three of us then caught a train back to Robker's dorm room in Erlangen, about two miles away. Around this time, I realized that I cannot pronounce German words. Just can't. My tongue treats them as not only foreign, but non-terrestrial.
Anyway, we reached Erlangen, and I performed the incredible act of suddenly being exhausted and passing out on the couch. Some time around then, we went outside and were bombarded by a substance I had before experienced only three times:
Yes, snow, sweet dandruff from the sky. I've shown this picture before, but I like, so look at it again.
After wandering around in the snowy paradise behind Robker's dorm, I came across something that made no sense to me:
I thought it was pig Latin at first, but apparently it is some strange made-up language the few people who speak it call 'German'. Whatever.
Anyway, after wandering around Erlangen for a while and buying some food (I will get to the wonders of German grocery stores later) the three of us went back to the dorm kitchen and ate. Upstairs, I noticed something interesting. See if something looks a little 'different' in this picture:
Apparently, beer comes in vending machines here. A liter of Beck's was ridiculously cheap(even after conversion). Sadly, though, despite what slinky commercial babes say, Beck's tastes like something that isn't very good.
After this, Robker and I went to the guest room, while Stephanie slept in Robker's room. I put on my headphones, listened to some Mum and some Arcade Fire, talked to Robker about the merits of certain Bible-reading habits, then passed out.
Oh yeah, sometime during the day I honestly did take a shower, I just can't remember when, but it did involve water, and to some extent, soap.
And this is the end of day one.
*Seven months later, after finally finishing this book, I realized what she meant and wholeheartedly agreed with her.