(Not) buying things
I went to a bike auction held by Deutsche Bahn last Thursday. I didn’t bid on any bikes, partly because it was hard to see properly over the assembled throng, and partly because although I know the numbers in German, I’m unconvinced that I’ll comprehend finer points such as “be warned, this thing is a death-trap and will require numerous repairs before you get on it”. The auction was, however, an entertaining experience, especially when they brought out a rubbish bike that everybody laughed at and a woman on the other side of the crowd bid €11 for it, eliciting a collective ooooh from around a hundred people as we strained to see who wanted it.
I also went to the Mauerpark flea market for the first time. The thing is, I am more than a cheapskate: I just kind of don’t buy stuff, so I wasn’t really that excited. Still though, it was a nice day and it was good to see where the market takes place, and plus I did make a couple of purchases after all: za’atar, which I haven’t found anywhere else yet, and a set of kitchen knives as a joint flatwarming present from myself and the Berlin Welcoming Committee to a couple who have finally found a home.
Purposely non-specific reference to angst
Some Stuff occurred last week that made me feel Crappy, which is sort of ongoing, although I’m aware that in the grand scheme of things it’s not really a big deal. The best thing about said Stuff is that it is Scotland-based, and being physically distant from it helps quite a bit. Besides that, however, here are my amazing techniques for dealing with Stuff:
- Okay, so I may be unable to grow a thicker skin. But the correct response to this is to not beat myself up for failure to grow a thicker skin.
- Consideration of where this fits in with regard to my swimming pool. Namely: everything else is cool except for abovementioned Stuff, which I have already acknowledged is not really a big deal.
- In ten years’ time, who’s going to care? This outlook has never failed me yet. In, let’s say for the sake of longevity, two months’ time, maximum, I’m probably not going to care about the Stuff of late.
- Identify worst case scenario and find solution to it. In this case, the worst case scenario might be that everyone in Scotland hates me. This is a brilliant worst case scenario, because it’s beyond overblown and exaggerates the hell out of the Stuff that’s caused me to angst in the first place. The solution, anyway, would be to just never bother returning to Scotland, which sounds fine to me. See? Problem solved.
I am unwilling to begin any communication with the opener Sprechen Sie Englisch? My German may be rubbish, but interpretive dance served me well in Japan and it will suffice here too if needs be. I can usually guess what’s going on by context, and I like when the man in the Spätkauf does the actions to mime “Would you like a bag?”
Also, there is a German phrasebook sitting on my desk and I’ve never yet thought to take it out with me. I love, though, that it has a whole section labelled Dating & Romance. (It ends with: I have never loved you; You’d better go now; I don’t ever want to see you again; Piss off!) It also lists ‘to make a pass at someone’ under Negative Feelings, and ‘galactic’ under Positive Feelings.
Quick rundown of other stuff
Made it out on May Day after all; hosted numerous visitors from Edinburgh; was taught (for the third time) how to cook tortilla; attended two flatwarmings on the same day; was given a free travel pass for the month of May; got drunk for the first time since moving here, which was really Sandra’s influence; spent Saturday night with the Berlin Welcoming Committee watching episodes of Press Gang on YouTube; saw the Frida Kahlo exhibition; had dinner with various lovely people; met more people who actually live here; and realised that my German is not in fact completely useless, as my visitors knew less than I do and I was able to assist to some extent.
Looking to the future
It’s kind of up in the air, and rightly so because it’s too soon for me to make any concrete decisions, but I am very much liking the prospect of not moving back to Edinburgh after the summer, whether I remain in Berlin or not. Again, I’m glad to have joined the redundancy club over a year ago, without which I would not now be living here or looking at multiple possibilities.
It also lists ‘to make a pass at someone’ under Negative Feelings, and ‘galactic’ under Positive Feelings.
Maybe in German culture, the concept of ‘making a pass’ contains the assumption that it was an unsuccessful one?
(It ends with: I have never loved you; You’d better go now; I don’t ever want to see you again; Piss off!)
I recently found a very secondhand book of form letters from, I think, the 30s or 40s. It caters to many interesting scenarios – being a father who has to write to a man to warn him off because one’s daughter has already said she won’t marry the man, and most vociferously at that (there are two letters: one gentle, the other firm); being a man who wants to write to congratulate his friend on an engagement, but doesn’t want to get mushy or emotional about it because that is Not The Manly British Way; etc. etc. It is also more loaded with double entendres than I dared dream.
Actually, I should just get it from my mum’s and start scanning it.