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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Germany, Day Ten: "Finale. That's German for 'The End'"

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We woke up real early that morning and hit the train back to Frankfurt. I later found out that Frankfurt was German for "hot dog sandwich", which really confused me because isn't a hot dog a sandwich already? And why would you name a town after one? I may have dreamed all this up, but I doubt it.
Once to the airport, we caught a 100 capacity bus carrying 200 people to our terminal. We then, in end-of-the-movie-drama fashion, lost each other and had to look around manically to find each other again--Robker was the only one who knew when we were supposed to get off.
Miracualously, we kept up and got off at the right place.
We were all very, very hungry, so for the first time on the trip, we got fast food. We went to McDonald's. It was the German McDonald's, though, so it was different, but I was tired, so I can't remember how it was different, but I'm sure the burgers had sauerkraut-covered sausages named buggerwurst or fecalwurst instead of beef. Actually, I haven't mentioned it, but any sausage I ate in Germany ending with "wurst" was really good, and again, I wish I could have bought more, but more on that later.
I got a biscuit and some O.J.--the drink, not the Naked Gun co-star, and then it was time to go.
The goodbyes with Robker were quiet and sad. I think he was going through a rough time during this period, and it also sucked to know we wouldn't be seeing each other again for a while.

And then there were two...
Stephanie and I then went through the rigors of metal detection. After stripping completely naked and having a woman in leather stuff a large ham-shaped camera into every orifice on my body, I got dressed and got on the plane.
Once again, we had an empty row each, but this time there were no movies I wanted to see.
We then suffered a major scare.
President Bush was in town.
That's not the scare. The scare was that because he was in town, all flights were projected to be delayed three hours.
We began to panic. Still suffering from PESS (Post Election Stress Syndrome), my anger was at an all time high. This seemed to be just typical, but praise The Lord in Heaven, we weren't delayed, and we got right on out of there.
The flight was...interesting.
Expecting to sleep easy this time, I was again wrong because sleep not I did.
I listened to some Arcade Fire and some Project 86, then I started playing solitaire on the entertainment module.
I played for three to five hours.
I'm not lying or exxagerating. I admit I have done that a bit in some of these entries, but not here.
I did not win one single game. Not one.
I began to go mad.
I could not win. I tried again and again, sometimes on the verge of victory, but lost every single time. It was ridiculous.
About to lose my mind, I switched the entertainment module to the little pool of songs available. I put on "Run" by Snow Patrol and had an epiphany.
I'm not lying. An epiphany. That's what happens after you play solitaire for five hours. The revelation of this epiphany will remain private, but this was the first of two times this song would have a profound effect on me in 2005.
With more time to kill, I reflected on the trip.
Here are some conclusions:
1. The Bad
A. Low Funds: I definately did not anticipate the rough exchange rate. The small fortune of dollars I brought was no match for the Euro exchange rate. Had the rate been what it was our last two days in Germany, this would not have been as big a problem. However, if I go again, I plan on taking two small fortunes instead of one. Then I can actually try everything I want instead of skimming the surface of everything I want.
B. Three Group Members, Two Related: I could not have asked for better traveling companions in the Robkers. They are intelligent, caring folks, but there was one problem with the arrangement--they are siblings. While Robker and I have a lot in common and get along quite well, he and his sister grew up together and feel and act the same way about many things in ways that I do not feel and act. It would have been nice to have a family member or long-time aquaintance such as Charlie, Adrian, or Peterson with me, to balance things out. Someone to climb the towers with me and walk the beach with me. Someone who is as 'immature' as me. This was something that was sorely missed.
C. Lack of Planning on My Part: I really should have done more research before the trip. Robker worked his butt off picking and searching for locations, and he had to because I did not do so at all. I had no idea what I wanted to see and could only give generalizations about what I wanted to see. I should have planned more. This would have made Robker's life a lot easier, and would have made for a better trip for all of us.
2. The Good:
A. Everything Else: Germany was like walking an alien planet to me, and I like walking alien planets. I got to see Robker and hang out with him for ten days, which is always great. I probably wouldn't have the job I have now if not for a conversation I had with Stephanie in Cologne about the EBRP library. I got to taste and experience many new things, and, besides the Sauerkraut, I enjoyed almost everything. I also got to go to places that were behind the Iron Curtain, and this has always been a special desire of mine. Well, not always, considering the Berlin wall has only been down for 17 years, but you get what I mean.
I had a really, really good time, which I think this travelogue has reflected.
3. The Ugly:
A. Sauerkraut

We landed in Detroit, then connected in Memphis, where we had a long layover.
Stephanie and I found a bench, she laid down, and I sat back and listened to some NMH and Kent. While sitting there, watching countless Americans pass, two things hit me:
1. The Morbid Obesity of Americans: There were some slightly overweight Europeans. I won't lie. But I saw no morbidly obese ones. No one who was so fat, they had to shuffle. The people there were healthy looking. Not fat.
Not so in Memphis. For every ten people that passed before me, seven were morbidly obese, stomachs either hanging FAR below their belts, or bulging to the extreme that they waddled like a duck. This made me very sad.
I then put some serious thought into why things were this way, but that is for another entry.
2. American News Sucks Even More than I Originally Thought:
The top story on CNN was that a tiger had gotten loose in a rural area in California and had been shot. This was the number one news topic for the three or four hours we were there.
In Germany, the top subjects on CNN were things like the assasination of the former prime minister of Lebanon and the ensuing Middle East political turmoil it caused. While this seemed like a huge issue, I heard nothing of it when I arrived back in the U.S.
Just a dead tiger.
I then put some serious thought into why things were this way, but that is for another entry.

We flew from Memphis to Baton Rouge. Stephanie and I hugged goodbye, half of my parents picked me up, and then I rode home.
I gave my family almost thirty candy bars, which they ate in less than a week. I'm not in the least bit kidding, and you can ask Charlie. He will say, "Maybe not thirty, but it was a lot. " They were mostly eaten by my father, the greatest sweet-tooth of them all.

Well, the trip was over. I went to Houston two days later, quickly chronicled in these two posts. One. Two.
Then I had the roughest, strangest, most life changing year of my life in which I faced crisis and extreme change on virtually every front.
The Germany trip was a prelude, a white, foggy calm before
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the journey began.
And what an insane, life-wrecking, life-changing, life-affirming journey it was.
But it is a journey I completed before starting the one I am on now.
It is a journey that featured a dark-tea-time-of-the-soul summer the likes of which I had never thought would be neccessary to my life, a summer I did not post in this journal and may never reflect on here.
It was a journey where I lost friends to death, technicality, or their and my own malfeasance. It was a year I got kicked in the teeth over and over again, yet was rescued by hope and grace.
Most importantly, it is a year that is OVER,
and I am so happy to have chronicled the quick respite that took place beforehand.
I hope this travelogue was enjoyable to you, and if you want to comment anything, and I mean ANYTHING about it, feel free to go ahead, whether it is on what your favorite entry, quote, picture, or whatever was, or anything else. I did this so that my friends or even perfect strangers could have a fun read, and I hope it was that.
Anyway, thus ends the travelogue. Even the most minute change in mood could have made each entry completely different, but instead of focusing on that, I will leave them how they are (except for any technical errors I notice).
And that's all I have to say about that...
except this:

No, I'm kidding, that's it.


Stacy Paul Vicknair said...

It was definitely an enjoyable ride. Personally, all days seemed about as interesting as the next, and I mean that in a good way. Sort of makes me want to visit Germany... but I will tell you this: Next time you go out to any european area of sorts try Desperados. It is my official favorite beer and I haven't had it in about 4 years :*(

Jon said...

My beard will consume you and your picture in which you are thinking of how much better you are than me because of your facial growth. Just don't even think about it, my beard is ready to pounce.


lesssssssssslie. said...

i think that the hot dog is actually just the hot dog part - the meat. i'm going to start calling it a hot dog sandwich, like the germans. especially in front of you. muahahahaha.

and americans are indeed fat. it's embarassing.

Jordan said...

beautiful stories man. Do you draw alot from your experiences? Apparentally now you have some great stories for conversation (and some wonderful pictures I might add) but do you think you recieved anything you might ever put into a fictional story? Other than that I hope you had a great trip and can go again sometime, I think that would be great. Did you learn anything, was real eye opening I wonder? I know I usually don't say or ask that kinda thing on here, so it sounds strange, but oh well :). Hope you are also having fun in Houston. I'm keeping the Stick Red at hand while you and P! are gone. Might have to rain check on the movie again this Saturday, but perhaps not. I'm helping my sister move during the afternoon so perhaps we can have a movie * night *. Take care Nic,


MeisenKaiser said...

"Frankfurt" just means: The ford of the Francionians.
There was einst a "Furt" ├╝ber den river Main. And it was used by the Franken. It became a super Handelsplatz and so other Leute siedelted there and it became a Stadt. KLingt logisch, eh? Well it is.