Saturday, August 30, 2008

37 with a bullet...

Tomorrow's my birthday... so I started cooking this apple crisp...

but before I could pop it in the oven...

My SISTER showed up!

Nice. Very nice. Apparently my wife was in on this one.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Football's back!

Lily left for a convention in Dusseldorf this morning, so tonight Jason and I kicked it on the couch over dinner and first round Champions League action between Athletico Madrid and Schalke '04. There is no joy in Gelsenkirchen tonight... Madrid poured it on, 4-0. We, however were happy to empty a few bottles of an Eritrean lager I don't even think my father has ever had the pleasure to savor.

For some reason, Diego Maradona was at the game, so the TV cameras kept showing him cheering and singing and canoodling with his supermodel girlfriend in a luxury box. This struck me as strange because A) he was everywhere during the Olympics (I mean, they were cutting to him in the stands at a frickin' women's FIELD HOCKEY match!), and B) he never even played for Madrid. Barcelona? okay, I can see that. Napoli? gotcha. But Athletico Madrid? A free Eritrean beer to the person who can tell me why this might be so.

Monday, August 25, 2008

August - How we're getting down

August... apologies for the dearth of posts here @ MOC... we've gone back to work full-steam. Lily's been in training, rehearsal, and choreographing an opera at the theater (think 13-hour days followed by shoveling leftovers down the gullet before passing out...).

I've spent the month writing a series of poems elaborating on Juliet's "Index of First Lines" - which started as a way for me to get going after the vacation (the task being to write a poem starting with each of the 24 lines) and has turned into a big, wonderful trip of writing and re-writing and finding what's possible starting with a small thing full of energy and blowing it up, allowing it to become something different (and accepting that what it becomes will never approach the condensed gem that is Juliet's poem).

Also been catching up on a bunch of reading suggestions from and by friends:
Inger Christiensen's Alphabet (a tip from Uljana)
Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives (which Pearl hipped me to)
Lisa Robertson's The Weather (a gift from Chris)
GE Patterson's To and From

Eric's new song has me flipping back through DeCarava's photos (and dancing my ass off).

What else?

Yesterday I ran in the Hessenmeistershaft Halbmarathon (the state half-marathon championships)... I was 25th overall on a beautiful, hilly course through the woods near Darmstadt. But my result didn't count toward the championship because I'm a stinky foreigner who hasn't been here long enough. Next year it'll count because I won't be so new and stinky.

Stumbling on a couple music blogs where I've DL'd scads of free jazz obscurities, rare Krautrock albums, even some live Graham Parsons stuff that had Lily asking when I started liking country and western. Ha! ALWAYS!

As a 1Euro birthday present to myself, I scooped this yellow-mint-forest green Torpedo 18...

It arrived in perfect condition, except the return arm was missing its springs. So I stripped an old Olivetti for parts...

Stuck my head inside the carriage for a couple hours to figure out what attached where...

and now it's running dreamily.

In other news... the berries are out of control right now...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Year Two

Today the cats and I reached the end of our first year here in Kassel. Lily beat us here by six months, but we're not shook...

Bird has joined me on the couch for some serious Olympics immersion (note to Americans - the coverage here is a million times better than NBC's). More than once I've come home and Bird has been watching rowing or weightlifting by herself. I'm starting to worry.

Juju's used this year to catch up on her sleep. And to threaten dinner guests.

Thanks for sticking with us through the first year. To all of you back in the States, we miss you and hope to see you soon. To those here, thanks for making it a great first, looking forward to the second.

Tonight there was also a lunar eclipse which surprised and delighted us... it was nearly full here. A good sign, I think.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Maybe it was that brunch with the Asians where the only language we had in common was German. Or maybe it was in Italy when my Mom explained in broken Italian to the property manager Matteo that my brother had broken a vase only to be told, "Don't worry...unimportant." Or maybe it was yesterday when my friend Julia's three kids and I were playing in the pool.

Hannes and Beno are twins, age 6, and Lotte is 11. Supposedly Lotte doesn't like to go in the water. I had already joined the boys jumping off the wooden platform into the deep end over and over, so they knew I was game. That's when they got started in earnest. They coerced me into the shallow water. Beno climbed up my body, his little arms like strong claws. Hannes kept up diversionary tactics - splashing, screaming, bobbing up and down - until I was good and overwhelmed. By that time a third pair of scrawny arms had me from behind. Lotte, the "shy" one, was choking me from behind. My bikini was nearly off my body. They were screaming. "Tauchen! tauchen!" I had no idea what the hell they were saying. I was just trying to keep my head above water. "Tauschen?" I said "Tauschen was?" Tauschen means to exchange, and I thought they were talking about my bikini bottoms, which by now were getting porno-low. "Nein!" (more climbing, screaming, splashing) "TAUCHEN!" And then, the miracle. They released me. Sprung off my body like little frogs and simultaneously dove into the water. Sleek little heads popped up from underwater, big smiles. They saw the understanding on my face. Oh! Dive! I was excited too, and relieved. Finally none of them was hanging on me anymore. I was free. They just wanted me to dive underwater. And I did. And they held me down, as long as they could.

When I came to Germany I thought I had lost the most important thing I had. The most important thing that I never even realized I had until it was gone. My language. Think about it. You walk into a store, a room, a train, a street. It comes without thinking: I like you, What is that, Where am I, Get away from me, Which are fresher, I was waiting first, I didn't understand you, Please forgive me, He's lying, My stomach hurts, Why is it so expensive, When is the next train, I live here. I thought language equaled manners, status, friendship, and adulthood, and that without it I would be without all of them.

To a certain extent I was right. Not a day goes by when I'm not grateful for my German. After the first year of learning how to make sentences, I'm on what I call the Ein Paar Worte Jeden Tag Plan. A few words every day. You'd be surprised how well it works. Language, you see, is just a scaffolding. You use it to build the house, brick by brick. Without it you can't build the house. But we live in the house, not in the scaffolding. And even when our grasp of the language is just that - rough, skeletal, the house isn't finished yet, we are not native speakers - we climb it, we hold on, we use it to see what's in the building, or to look out.

This is where Matteo from Tuscany comes in. Unimportant, he says, so musically Italian. And Julia's kids. A simple demonstration, a sweet moment of mercy. And Julia. Julia wants to become an English teacher. I want to switch between German and English easily. So she speaks to me in English. And I speak to her in German. There are gaps. But they are unimportant.