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Bosch Year

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S: The Bosch Year

FC: The Bosch Year | June 2009 - June 2010

1: Perhaps you are surprised to learn that Lauren and I will be living in Germany for the next year.Don’t they move around enough? Whose idea was that anyway?Do they even speak German? Living with umlauts means embracing them on a daily basis rather than cowering in fear of them. You just can’t escape the umlauts here. One glass each and two hours later we decided we might as well have dinner. The night had turned beautiful and we had nothing but German homework awaiting us. Out came the menus and then out came the most delicious salads of our lives. This is how we spend our Sunday afternoons - at Cafe Wieslau, drinking coffee, eating and studying. In the picture you will see I am identifying singular and plural nominative nouns. Only on Thursday was I introduced to the accusative case. Luckily, in typical German fashion, a Biergarten was tucked away right there waiting for us, exactly where we needed it. Of course no water was on offer; only beer and wine, and naturally, a lot of it. We live with our windows open and listen to church bells ring. I get to eat croissants and gelato daily and drink fabulous, cheap wine. I don’t watch TV anymore; instead I talk to John, read and doodle. I am able to walk everywhere. A number of things this week were premium: bowls and cones of Eis, Dner Kebab at Hasir, the bike tour of Berlin, beer gardens. In the afternoon we came across some very loud Hungarian music which turned out to be a performance of traditional folk dancing. We managed to curb our inhibitions, decipher the rather complicated series of entrance procedures, and find a nice place to sit and relax in the warm, mineral-rich waters. The experience was worth it, I think, if only for the amazing (and sometimes awkward) people-watching opportunities that arise from sitting in a large bath with hundreds of strangers. My days are packed full of meetings with various people, while Lauren is spending most of her time sightseeing while joining me for the more cultural activities as well as the delicious meals. Like magic my clear door was suddenly frosted. FROSTED!!! It was instantaneous. In Munich I drank lots of Hefe-Weizen and Oktoberfest beer, while in Koeln it seems the only beer on offer was the regional specialty, Koelsch. What is brewed in Karlsruhe or Frankfurt just isn’t found in Hamburg or Berlin - and all seem content that it remains this way. My honest assessment of the performance is that it's really strange, bordering on scary-movie material. However, the mechanics of the performance are remarkable, the music is interesting and the crowds are all smiles and laughter (an unusual site in Berlin). Definitely worth the near-frozen state of my fingers. Their reunification is now complete. Ah, but is Germany's? I “baked a cake with Lauren’s help” (which means I was tasked with measuring out the more simple ingredients and nervously watching as she baked) and brought it in to our morning meeting, at which point the director excitedly asked if it was my birthday. I replied that it was only my first week, and everyone of course understood. You would not believe the amount of apple juice that is consumed in this nation. Tonight I want to highlight one of the most frustrating and yet truly extraordinary qualities of German: its spontaneous ability to create spectacular compound nouns. In order to celebrate our own religious history, perhaps in order to kindle old flames, we bundled up on Saturday and headed to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the little town in which Martin Luther boldly nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints' Church on October 31, 1517, setting into motion the events that would herald in the Protestant Reformation. Somewhere between 800 and 1,000 dominoes were sent from all over Germany and around the world to be part of this exhibition. Where does one even begin to describe arguably the most important single event of the last half century? Many say that while the Berlin Wall has fallen, the wall still remains in the minds of many Germans. Their reactions cover a full range of emotions: joy, pride, confidence, relief, liberation, and optimism but also disappointment, frustration, uncertainty, disillusionment, and confusion. The small is half that size and again, another mockery of anyone who enjoys the act of drinking. Mom, my cake is bubbling over and out of the bundt pan in the oven. There are blobs of cake cooking all over the bottom of the oven and running down the sides of the pan. Should I take it out? “You will never be without gold and happiness, if you have a prune person in your house." Prune propaganda? I think so. Linda likes to call some of my hems "creative." On Friday John and I were able to see the entries into the 67th contest in Krakow and they were unbelievable.

2: Berlin in the Summer!

10: Budapest

14: Schwerin

15: Lutherstadt Wittenberg

16: Shannon and Jason Come to Town

17: in Berlin

18: Seminar I | Stuttgart | Heidelberg

19: Karlsruhe | Andechs

20: Munich

21: Dachau

22: Frankfurt

23: Cloister Eberbach

24: Cologne

25: Hamburg | Essen

26: Lübeck

27: Britzer Garten

28: Mauerfall 2009

29: Krakow, Poland

30: Weihnachten in Deutschland

31: Goerlitz | Dresden

32: 12Days of Christmas

34: Seminar II

35: Berlin, Dresden, Warsaw

36: Bamberg

37: Weimar

38: Seminar 3 | Amsterdam

39: Brussels

40: Bruges

41: Strasbourg

42: Paris

43: Paris

44: Leipzig

45: When was the last time you stood around with your co-workers and sang carols and hymns at your Christmas party? Well, the other night we certainly did at ours, an interesting departure from the strict division of Church and State adhered to in the States. John was assigned the even and I the odd numbers of the 12 days and we each began to hunt for landmarks, buildings, and sites in Berlin that roughly matched the lines of the song. The festivities soon began at the Brandenburg Gate, but you probably would have been hard-pressed to notice because of all the explosions reverberating down the snowy streets and lighting up the sky between buildings with reds and greens. I wish you could have seen my look of pure glee when I pulled off the lid and saw a whole pot of beautiful fluffy popcorn. If you ever find yourself in Dresden sitting in a fairy tale castle vineyard being served a lavish feast by a German prince, just remember that it may not end happily ever after. I'm not gonna lie folks, it is hella cold over here in Berlin so any opportunity we have to be entertained indoors is a must-do for the Graebers! Warning: heavy on history, but I invite you to put on your nerd pants and walk with me just a few minutes. Berlin and I are already such good friends that I'm running out of new places to explore, especially ones that don't require a session of ice-dancing on the uncleared sidewalks. “Berlin ist arm, aber sexy.” The costumed Jecken perched atop their floats often hurled candy and other goodies down at the adult crowds with the speed and force of a major league baseball pitcher. Rather than hold out our hands to catch candy, we were often shielding our exposed faces from these projectiles. This weekend no one seemed put out by my German, people offered to help, people smiled; It’s amazing how these little moments with cheery Germans help remind me what an unbelievable opportunity we've been given. I recoiled in disgust and Lauren shrieked at the “big ass jungle beetle” (her words) as she high-stepped it/sprinted/fell over herself to get to the other side of the store. As quickly as possible we extracted ourselves from the psycho woman and her little shop of horrors and decided it was time to head home to Berlin. I have even had German colleagues discuss with me at length the demands of the biathlon and mentions names of biathlon athletes as though we were discussing LeBron James and the NBA playoffs. The nice thing about embroidery is that at the end of the movie (or three) I have something to show for the hours that have passed. The lack of channel buttons was “solved” by instead having the SCAN button that flipped through the channels in rapid succession, a process that could only be stopped if you timed your re-pressing of scan with hair-trigger precision. Folks, beer is serious stuff in German; serious beer = serious ads. My favorite program, “Wildes Kinder Zimmer,” a one hour show that simply highlights baby animals all over Germany. It’s a treasure trove of puppies, kittens, baby porcupines, baby llamas, lambs, calves, piglets, etc. People tell me to go home when I start sneezing too much. Trying to speak you befuddled my brain to an extent I didn’t know was possible but it also slowed me down and caused me to think about what I say, made me listen harder to the people around me, and forced me to be braver than I usually am. Hopefully, the Icelandic volcano will stop spewing ash before then so our flight back to Berlin won't be canceled; but then again, a few more days in Paris wouldn't be so bad...While Bavarians might be busy erecting May Poles, many Berliners seem more ready to grab their placards and Molotov cocktails and hit the streets to partake in political celebrations, demonstrations, and even riots organized by unions, anarchists, and socialist groups. The dog will wait patiently outside, usually off-leash, focusing intently on the shop entrance and intently scanning each exiting face in anticipation of its returning master. My way of managing a farewell to this city I love is to pretend that all of you (and yes, I mean ALL of you) are actively planning trips to my lovely Berlin and as such, are in desperate need of recommendations for when you arrive. Please, come to Berlin. Don't choose Munich, choose Berlin. Eat Eis (gelato). Eat lots of it. What should be like a game of connect-the-dots becomes a linguistic Rubik’s cube requiring about ten minutes of dictionary consultations and other algorithms to decipher. Nonetheless, like that Rubik’s cube, it’s the simultaneous challenge accompanying that frustration that makes me love these words and thus appreciate the strange beauty of a language that makes such words possible. So, our life with umlauts has come to its end, but readjusting to life without umlauts might take a little more time.

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  • By: L G.
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  • Title: Bosch Year
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