Sunday, November 04, 2012

Nurnberg- 6 months later

6 months ago, I moved out of nurnberg Germany in what can only be described as an epic fail. I won't get into it, but despite the fail, I left Germany with a heavy heart. Sure, my job killed my soul and nurnberg chewed me out and spit me out, but I genuinely liked the social life I made, the lifestyle (6 weeks vacation!!) and my apartment. However, in order to hold on to the hope of regaining sanity, I had to leave. The weeks leading up to my departure were some of the worst in my life: I just had had an appendectomy, which infected other organs, work wouldn't let me go without the help of lawyers and the guy I was starting to fall for wasnt as "separated" as he led me to believe. I returned to the scene of the trauma for a long weekend, to visit friends and to tackle errands (Germany is a lot cheaper than Switzerland!)

Since there are few things I despise more than failures, I take this weekend as a bit of introspection as well. Was it REALLY as bad as I remembered it? Did I possibly over exaggerate how bad it was? I didn't think so, but I want to consciously re-experience nurnberg- if only for a weekend.

Herewith, a running diary of my weekend.

Day 1

Old lady with small dog wearing a coat- the dog. And well the lady too, it's freaking cold! She's talking to her dog all childlike. I try a "guten morgen" no response. Well, maybe she didn't hear me.

Exhibit 2- lady in the park feeding the birds. Right past a "do not feed the birds sign. Lucy runs up and chases the birds away. I brace myself to get yelled at. Nothing. Well, technically she wasn't following the rules either- I call it a wash.

Lucy walking back home. All happy like, a lady smiles, talks to Lucy, I attempt another "guten morgen" I get one back. Success!

Notice that the elevator in my friend's building says "aufzug". I notice for the first time that that literally translate to "up train". I forgot the German language can have a sense of humor.

Driving to get my car fixed. You know, I forget how pretty this place is in the fall.

Get to the car place, attempt to find where I have to tell the guy my car is here. 3 seperate counters. Attempt to line up, oh right, the Germans don't believe in queuing. Stick myself where it will be obvious I'm waiting and prepare to bulldoze anyone who dares try to go in front of me.

The guy takes my info for the car. I consciously try to keep Italian out of my brain. I'm able to get thru it until I ask "how does this work" and I get a 5 mi nute explanation of which I understand "11am". I'll just come back then.

Since I'm careless for the day, I take public transit. Oh public transit system named VAG, how I miss you! You were the source of some of the best jokes (the vag is hard to figure out, but once you get the hang of it...) Buy a ticket to ride the VAG.

Ride the VAG, thru the old hood. Ah, the memories! That's where I got called a cow for stopping my car while waiting for a friend, there's park I tore my tendons in and I see the broken down park is still broken!

I go downtown and the first stop is Starbucks! Ahhhhhh you can take the girl out of Vancouver, but you can't take Vancouver out of the girl!

The girl in front of me orders a Cafe latte. She's confused when the cashier tells her the price. The price is different than normal. I cringe. You can't go off script! If there's one thing I've learned from my time in Germany things have to stay the way they are. Girl realizes that cost is in her favor and relaxes. All coffees are on special for €1.50. I think I found my new home for the weekend.

Shit. Jus saw I missed a call from the mechanic. Pick up the voice message. Can't figure out if my car needs anything. Between the fast talking and shop background noise, I don't get the gist whether my car needs work or not. Call the mechanic back. Busy. Busy for the next 10 minutes. Oh ya, I forgot how hard they are to get a hold off. Just to make the appointment you have to call a central number which then routes you thru to the shop. Finally get a ring, no answer for the next 5 minutes. Get back on the vag and go back to the shop. Some things are just easier on person.

Get to the car place. Hear the phone ringing off the hook, that explains my previous predicament! Start explaining my situation. The little Italian I know starts coming to the surface. I go from talking like a 6 year old to a 3 year old. Clearly I'm struggling. We get thru figuring out that my car is fine. They just called to tell me they filled up the washer and cooling fluid. Then they take it for the inspection and I'm to come back at noon. Get back on the VAG to go back downtown.

VAG narrowly misses t-boning a small car at the intersection. People on the vag go flying. Drama on the vag. A lady banged her head. Vag stops, everyone gets out. Not too minimize the situation, but no one really went flying. But if I know nurnberg, this incident will be epic and should involve police, fire trucks, vag interruptions and at least a month of work off for the woman and hopefully a health insurance paid visit to the spa to help her get over the stress she just experienced.

Switch to the subway. See a woman in her 60's with bright green spiked hair.

Walk around downtown. It's partly cloudy, but I wear sunglasses anyway. Suddenly fear that I'll run into someone I used to work with. When I left, my hr manager told me a German cliche "you meet two times in life and the second time is never pretty". For how they treated me, I can hold my head up high. But I dare not tempt German fate and hope I don't run into anyone.

Trip on a cobblestone. Hold my breath. Oh ya, tripping on cobblestones doesn't hurt anymore. Sprained my ankle twice on cobblestones. After I tore my tendon in the park, the ankle's been stable. I don't fear eye watering pain anymore when I trip.

Back to the car place. Walk past the most random vending machines that sells condoms. And a "travel pussy" an artificial vagina. You just can't make this stuff up. Phone is still ringing at the car place. I show up at noon and grateful that Germany doesn't have small time switaly hours where everything is shut between the hours of noon and 1:30. I get away with a bill of €120. I don't dare think of what that bill would be in Switzerland. I love you Switzerland, but sometimes I think you're expensive, just to be expensive!

Drive to the hairdressers. Take a wrong turn, turn around. Shit. It's a 1 way street. I'm already committed to my 3 point turn around. I see another car coming. I cringe. Now There's no sign telling me that it's a one way. The only way I know is because I've done this exact same move before and gotten yelled at in this same spot before. The driver of the other car firmly, but politely tells me it's a one way street. I definately did NOT get polite but firm last time!

See Laura the hairdresser. I love her. She cuts good hair. Hair cut is 40€. Just over half what I would pay in Switzerland and Como. No wonder every place I've ever travelled to has a lot of German tourists, 6 weeks vacation plus disposable income is a winning combination. Why then is everyone around here so miserable? I conclude it's vitamin D deficiency. I may be from the land of rain but bavaria Spends a lot of time being grey.

I've exhausted myself. Go home, take a nap. all in all, not a bad day. A few quirks but if every day were like this, I'd have been able to tolerate it.

Day 2-

Take Lucy out to the park. An old lady starts up a conversation. Turns out she's telling me that the thing Lucy is sniffing (which I thought was a cleaning brush) is a hedgehog. She's mesmerized by this and goes on. I get none of what she's saying but she's friendly and I smile and say "ja, ja" a lot.

Do some more errands, buy fabric and toiletries which save me the equivalent of what I paid to get here in gas.

Walk around town again (still in sunglasses) get another Starbucks and almost get bowled off the staircase. When I live here, I coined the term sidewalk mafia. Of all the places I've ever been I've never been forced off a sidewalk so many times! When people here walk in groups, they tend to take up the whole sidewalk and don't make allowances for you to pass. 

Spend time visiting a guy friend and briefly wonder what we would have been like together. Quickly conclude that we'd be a real life Phil and Claire Dunphy from modern family. Giggle at the visual.

Get back to my friend's place. Slide into a parking spot. About to get out of my car when irate not laid in a while guy comes up to me ranting and raving that I took his parking spot. Rrrreright, I was "supposed" to know that you being parked in the driveway a couple of car lengths away was actually you wanting the parking spot I was aiming for. It takes me right back to how I remember nurnberg to be. Really wish I could retort "I'm sorry dickwad, my physic powers were off today so I couldn't have possibly known where you were headed. I curse myself for not having learned this sentence in German. Lucy gets out of the car and barks furiously at him. Good dog!
Go to dinner with my friend in my old neigborhood, it seems weird.  I really wish that Nurnberg would have been a different experience for me.  I'll never regret my Nurnberg experience as it put some fight in me and was great perspective.

When I moved to nurnberg, I did so with an open mind and embraced the experience. I vowed to learn the language and not become a bitter ex-pat because things weren't the way I was used to. Unfortunately, day by day, the bitterness seeped into my soul by osmosis. Not because things weren't the way I was used to, but because everything everyday just seemed to be so overwhelmingly difficult.

When someone asks me why nurnberg didn't work out for me, I can't pinpoint just one reason. Other than the job (a big one granted), there was no ONE thing that drove me over the edge. But the culmination of a difficult to manoever bureacracy, the verging on hostile attitude of many of the people, the focus on following unwritten rules and following them because "thats the way things have always been" and just the unnecessary complication of every day made it unbearable.

Sure, it had a lot of great points and those will always be near and dear to my heart. But I feel secure knowing I made the right decision. For me.

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