Saturday, June 28, 2008

how to depress the pants off me

I was chatting over IM to one of my best friends and realised: if I go back to Australia on average once every two years, and I live another forty years, then I am only going to see him twenty more times before I die.

Twenty times.

That's it. For my family, my best friends, mates, acquaintances, childhood sweethearts. Everything on the other side of the planet has a very limited exposure from now on and each time I'm home I know I'll be thinking only "19 left, only 18..."

DrH pointed out that we only see his parents once or twice a year, which isn't that much better statistically. But the difference there is that we know we can drop everything and be there in a few hours. We can say "Sod it, let's nick down there this weekend" at any point in time. Jetting back to Australia is not as simple, nor as cheap. The difference is the opportunity always exists and if we don't take it it's our own fault, rather than the pressure of budget or excessive geography.

Twenty times. In a lifetime.

Today I feel like it's ended already.

Friday, June 27, 2008

hey, margarita

The last week I've had the wife of an old school friend staying with me which has been lots of fun, especially as DrH has been in Boston since Saturday. Last night was her final night here and we took advantage of that to try on some Margaritas for size. They definately fitted well and I think the cut makes me look slimmer.

At about 3.30am we wandered into a bar somewhere in Mitte and ended up on the dance floor where I made the stupid mistake of talking to someone. Turned out to be a British guy who's entire conversation skills were taken up with the line "But who are you really?"

Seriously dude, you're thirty, not twenty. Congrats on getting bored with drinking and fucking your way around London and deciding to come here to do it instead. You sounded just SO world-wise and SO world-weary and that whole 'I'm cool and deep and mysterious with this one pick-up line I worked out at Uni which just makes me sound SO intellectual' thing is just SO ├╝ber-cool y'know.

It's been a long time since I actively used this word to describe someone and fully meant it, but last night pulled it back into my active vocabulary.


Thankfully there were Margaritas and old school friend's wives to keep me company instead.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Not surprisingly, I'm not a chick in skin-tight latex

Your results:
You are Iron Man

Iron Man
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Wonder Woman
Inventor. Businessman. Genius.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I guess this is addiction

Last Friday I visited the turkish market here and came home with a big bunch of fresh mint. What should one do with a bunch of fresh mint? Why Mojito's of course!

Luckily our lounge room comes with a fully stocked bar which we rarely use and so an instantaneous Mojito wish is pretty easy to fulfill. Now as we all know, crushed ice is a necessity in instant-Mojito-wishes, so I trundled down to the kitchen and pulled out my manual ice crusher. It's pretty loud, so I made sure to do it at a really exciting part of the football game and have the windows wide open so all the neighbours could enjoy.

The instant-Mojito-wish was thusly fulfilled and deservedly delicious, but I found I reached the bottom to quickly. So down I went to the kitchen again, crushing more ice in the exciting part of the next football match and refilling the mint. Then I thought for a moment, and topped up the glass with water instead of rum and went and sat down.

For the last week I have been drinking virgin Mojito's and going through four trays of ice a day. I seem to have a real problem here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

hey, it's not just him!

We decided to get away for a bit of a long weekend. You know, chuck some food and a doona in the back of the Bulli, grab the dog and head for whatever wilds East Germany had to offer us.

We would've perhaps aimed for the wilds of West Germany, but our car is old. And slow.

Of course, this was the first camping trip we'd done this year which meant it took a full day to get all the gear out of winter hibernation. Fill up the water tanks and the portapotty. Fix the rack and metal box to the roof. Work out why the electricity has stopped working and spend two hours pulling wiring out from behind the dashboard. You know, normal car stuff.

Eventually we got underway but the delay meant we had only a 36 hour holiday to look forward to. This, in the grand scheme of things, is kind of cruddy.

So we stuck to the Brandenburg region, deciding that anything over two hours drive really was overkill and besides there was a Water Castle marked just off the highway and this I had to see. My fantasy-fueled visions of undersea royalty were somewhat destroyed by it being just a big building. Like, near the water. Pathetic really.

But cruising into the next campsite along the road, we stumbled across the Berlin VW Bus group on a weekend outing. I have never seen DrH's face shine so brightly as when we pulled up to the gate and witnessed a herd of T3's grazing in the nearby meadow. At home in their natural environment of open fires and beer cases and pissing in the bushes.

A nice bunch of people, even if they did drive T3's, and DrH is looking forward to going along to their next monthly meeting. I'm not sure I'll join him - I can talk more VW bus shit than you could possibly imagine, but these guys were EXTREME. Audi engines and Porsche brakes. Cruising speeds of 180km. In 4-wheel-drive T3's.

I mean, they could've at least owned T2's. Shown some taste.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

what? you don't know The Goodies?

Jan left a comment on the last post about cultural differences in relationships, whether they're a big deal or not, if it gets better with time or if it adds crispy freshness to every serve.

The short answer is: It's a two sided coin. Yes it is refr.. well interesting and is a relatively limitless source of amusement. At the same time it can be kind of frustrating and a little sad that we can't share the stories, jokes, knowledge or experiences that I have with other Australians. It's why I need to go home for such long stretches when I do and surround myself with people who knew me when I was young and why those from my hometown have become that much more important to me. With them, there are many things I don't have to explain, that I can refer to obliquely and still have them laugh. On a very basic level I know that they "get" me in a way DrH never will.

Now, I realise I could just hunt down all Aussie expats here to try and find the same thing, but I deliberately avoided that until about 6 months ago and it still isn't something I want to immerse myself in too deeply. Expats amongst themselves and integration is something I'll get into in some other post.

Soooo. That's my side of it. How I deal with DrH not being of my culture. What about the other way around - me not being of his?

This is also tough. I don't know really what his teenage years were like, for example. I've seen pictures, I know some stories, I know how schools etc work intellectually, but I never experienced it myself. I don't really know what the formative influences on him in these times were: what were the trends or fashions, music, pasttimes, local or world events which had an impact on making him the guy his is.

Do I really need to know this? No. but it makes that basic level of understanding that little bit more difficult. Sometimes I just really don't understand where he's coming from. I expect he feels the same.

Now to the point of: does this get better? Will you ever know each other well enough that these differences don't exist. I can't say for sure but I'd be betting on no. I've been here almost nine years, I've been with DrH for six of those. Sure they've lessened, but it is still always there hovering in the background.

So: Doesn't it make it refreshing? The early years most definately, and it is still useful for a laugh. Now though, I do find myself frustrated from time to time, wishing I didn't have to explain myself so often and getting snappy when I do. Again. This is why I need to immerse myself in Australia occassionally. It's like releasing a breath I've been holding onto for two years, where I can just be me and know that those around me understand it.

Okay, this has turned into a long-winded, and surprisingly negative sounding, rant and there are still a few points I haven't discussed yet: not being as home in Australia as I was, being around Australians who do get the being abroad thing, getting integrated into Germany etc etc etc.

The summary is: DrH and I still have cultural differences and that probably won't change. However I'm with him for the guy he is, and he's that guy also because he was raised in a different culture to mine. It can get annoying sometimes, but I have things in place (visits home, other expats) to temper it. We have a damn good relationship going and compared to more fundamental problems relationships can have, our cultural differences are minor.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

one of Facebook's better sides

This afternoon I was cruising through Facebook, as is my occasional wont, intent on spying out details of lives of half-remembered acquaintances of early childhood and realising again that I may as well give up on half because women still keep changing their surnames.

What is with that? I STILL can't grasp why anyone would willingly giving up their name. Unless they're entering a witness protection program, of course. But then I feel PROBABLE DEATH is a pretty good reason for a number of life adjustments.

However, I have joined a number of Facebook groups based entirely on their titles. Hence I am a member of:

▪ If you can't fix it with Gaffa tape, you haven't used enough.
▪ People Who Always Have To Spell Their Names For Other People
▪ Derek Zoolander's Group For Really Really Ridiculously Good Looking People

I feel the last one really connects with WHO I am. You know, on the inside.

I have cut myself out of eligibility for the Philosphy group "I Dont care How Comfortable Crocs Are, You Look Like A Dumbass", by purchasing a pair last week; nor do I really qualify for the "I only watch Eurovision for Terry Wogan" seeing as I don't get the British showing of it and I ACTUALLY only watch it for the Ukraine.

What can I say? Hope springs eternal for the return of Ruslana.

But this afternoon I found, I think, the most community service-orientated group yet, admittedly perhaps only relevant for those from my hometown...

"It shits me when people don't realise the ADDED LANE entering Torquay Road!"