Sunday, September 15, 2013

Proposals

Something that I've noticed about having a husband-to-be that I find sort of funny/perplexing is that people always want to know how he proposed. The first time someone asked this, I was unprepared for it, so feeling self-conscious, I made up an elaborate and completely untrue story about him having gotten down on one knee after we drove home one romantic evening, and there were fancy cupcakes and champagne and stars in the sky that he had personally planted there, or something. Since then, I've been mulling over how to tell the real story without making it sound like I have really low expectations and/or my h-t-b is a sot.

The real story is that our decision to marry was a result of many discussions. Once we had decided, we started telling people. I said (insisted) I had always wanted a ring, so he got me one and gave it to me. Under what I would describe as relatively pedestrian circumstances, except our parents' conversation about something else had to be interrupted so we could show it to them. BTW this happened after they already knew of our marriage plans.

Now what I want to know is, are the stories that other girls are constantly telling really true, or are they sort of full of shit? Like could it really be possible that you had absolutely no idea whatsoever that your boyfriend wanted to get married, until he suddenly arranged an elaborate scavenger hunt in the country that you willingly did without asking any qs or getting pouty about having to play a really dumb childish game, and then at the end, you found a diamond ring hidden in the bottom of a massive pen of stuffed animals? A diamond ring which he had gone out and spent a lot of money on just like that, without being told by you that it was mandatory or even any coaxing from anyone? And you bizarrely agreed to get married even though this was a complete and total surprise and getting married was not at all on your radar screen until that very second? And is this actually the same guy who won't move fantasy baseball to a slightly lower point on his priority list and had to be hassled to fix the epic plumbing fail in the bathroom yesterday?

To be clear, I don't think a mutual decision to get married is unromantic. In fact, quite the opposite. What I do wonder is how someone could decide they were ready to get married if the proposal really came as a complete surprise, and if it wasn't a surprise and the couple had fully discussed their plans for marriage, why there is a need for anything else, particularly when something so carefully planned is so out of character for the person doing it. It just seems like placing the importance on the wrong thing. So what gives?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

10 things I like about living in Germany

Despite yesterday's burst of negativity, there are some things I like about living in Germany. They are unfortunately not that funny, but anyway, here they are:


1) People like to send postcards when they go on vacation. This is always a nice little surprise.

2) People like to bring each other little gifts when they go on vacation. See above.

3) There are a lot of rules, and they tend to be followed. At first I thought this was a bad thing, and I can still envision many situations where it could go wrong. However, it makes the bureaucracy relatively transparent, and individual bureaucrats have less discretion than they often do in other countries to act on their personal feelings or views. Thus, in today's world, I think it is by and large a good thing.

4) Husbands sometimes take their wives' last names after marriage. I don't think this is an extremely widespread practice, but in my two years here, I have met three people who have done it. This leads me to believe it is significantly more widespread than it is in the English-speaking world, where I have met zero people who have done it despite having lived there the entire rest of my life. For couples who would both like to have the same last name as their children or would like to take on a family name to signify a new stage of life, I think it is great to decide together and with an open mind whose name is nicer/less common/easier to spell/preserves a cultural identity/whatever is important to them, and it seems like in Germany, they are moving in that direction.

5) Yes, German food is disgusting. However, the Germans do seem to have a great fondness for Italian food, which is a big improvement.

6) They have very efficient and reliable public transportation, including in small cities.

7) Every supermarket, no matter how small, has a bakery at the front. Good idea!

8) Among the various skills everyone seems to have are direction-giving skills. I, of all people, basically never get lost for more than five minutes.

9) They love museums and don't really care what the subject of the museum is. For example, there is a museum in my neighbourhood about potatoes.

10) Even though they are practically the only part of Europe that isn't going to economic hell, they never work late and are really into work-life balance. So I guess they must have figured something out!

Monday, September 2, 2013

10 things I hate about living in Germany

For those with whom I haven't been in close contact over the past two years, let me tell you what happened: I went to Germany for a 10-month period, which now that I think about it, I'm not really sure what I was thinking with that one, but anyway, that's what I did. Soon after arriving, I met my husband-to-be, and now it appears that I'm still here. While I do like him, living in Germany has had its, er, challenges.

So in light of that, here is a list of 10 things I hate about living in Germany:

1) Everyone I meet seems like a weirdo. Like they go on and on about how hilarious Scary Move 3 is, and how delicious these seriously nasty looking greasy sausages are, and how cool it would be if they could figure out how to make a car that was even harder to drive than a manual, or spaces to parallel park in that are for sure smaller than your car. OK, they might not being going on about any of these things. But I can tell they're thinking them.

2) Everyone speaks German. This means that my tolerance for talking to anyone is approximately five minutes long, at which point I tune out and start fantasizing about decent Pad Thai. Just when the fantasy is getting really good someone tries to be polite and ask for my opinion, which of course I don't have because I wasn't listening, and even if I was listening, I probably don't have because they were talking about like robocopters or something.

3) No one I ever actually see is particularly likely to read my blog or even knows what a blog is. Thus, I feel far less motivated to write it.

4) You know how in New York there are all these people who are apparently really successful at like making YouTube vids about animated pairs of shoes or something, and they live in nice apartments without roommates and have really nice designer clothes, and you're like - are you effing serious? And I went and became a lawyer? The hell was I thinking? Well, Germany is the opposite of that. In Germany, I think it's like illegal to make YouTube vids about animated pairs of shoes if you don't have a degree from the Bundesschule for YouTube vids. As a result, literally everyone in the entire country is either a housewife or an engineer.

5) They think their food is good. This pisses me off sort of on principle.

6) Everyone has all these skills. Like bike riding skills. And skiing skills. And parallel parking skills.

7) Imagine the following scene: you go to one of those parties for your office where there are all sorts of really boring and stupid games, like climbing up a wall without using your hands or seeing how long you can balance a glass of water on your head. You might think that this was a family party where people were supposed to bring their kids. You might think that. Unless you lived in Germany.

8) Nobody has ever heard of screens. You know those things you have in your window so that bugs don't come in? Oh really, you thought there was literally nothing you could do to stop bugs from coming into your house? That's so weird, because I thought you were an engineer.

9) Nobody has ever heard of either air conditioning or fans. Like they think suffering builds character or something.

10) I'm going to come right out and say it: despite what every German will tell you, there is NOTHING SPECIAL about a beer garden. If you really, really wanted to drink beer outside, you could just open your screenless window.