Thursday, January 28, 2010

Five Day Forecast

I like the way the weather people try to break up the repetitiveness of a forecast like this by distinguishing between 'light snow' and a 'light snow shower'.

Thieu is still attempting to dry his shirts by hanging them on the balcony. If you tap them, they shatter.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Never mind the Ps and Qs

Did you notice how in my last post I didn't apologise for the lack of recent posting. That was because one of my New Year's Resolutions is to cut down on apologising and saying thankyou.

I have always been a big over-thanker and in Germany I've been told that it's frowned upon as being insincere and something that English people do. God forbid. I think it's something Australians do too, although I suspect my over-thanking is excessive. This would be a typical exchange for me if, for instance, I'd gone into a shop to buy a house brick.

Me: (handing over house brick) Thanks! (presumably meaning - "thanks for allowing me to buy this house brick").
Shop assistant: Would you like that wrapped?
Me: Thanks!
Shop assistant: that will be ten dollars.
Me: (handing over the money) Thanks! (presumably meaning - "thanks for accepting my money for the purchase of this house brick").
Shop assistant: Would you like a bag?
Me: No thanks!
Shap assistant: Goodbye.
Me: (leaving shop exhausted) Thanks. Thanks a lot.

I'd continued this bad habit here in Germany until Matty pointed out, when he visited us in October, that when you hand over money in Germany and say 'danke' it basically means 'you've done such a great job that I want you to keep the change. No really, keep it.' This was quite a revelation and explained the confused looks I'd been getting at the supermarket checkout and train station. Clearly it was a habit I had to break and I'm trying, although it's a struggle.

The other thing - the apologising - isn't too bad, although I do slip up occasionally. The thing that helps me there is that the word for excuse me - Entschuldigung - is such an awkward word to get out. Once I've managed to form it in my brain, the recipient of my apology is often long gone.

Over here it's considered ridiculous to apologise for things that didn't happen. If you don't actually crash into someone, but narrowly miss instead, why apologise for it? If you do, the other person will look at you in confusion and say 'but nothing happened,' then walk away muttering 'weirdo.' As for that bizarre English habit of apologising when someone crashes into you ('Oh my Lord I'm so sorry for being in your way just when you weren't looking where you were going!') that's just not done either.

Yesterday a woman stopped me on the street and started asking for directions. Maybe I could've worked it out, but I snapped into auto pilot.
'Sorry,' I said (in German) 'I don't speak German.' She turned way angrily, saying what I think basically translated as
'Yeah, that'd be right. Weirdo.'

So on the whole, I'm very much into my not-apologising resolution. I think it'll help me blend in.

Here are some other resolutions I'd make if there were any chance of them being achieveable:

- grow more bottom eyelashes (just to be clear - that's eyelashes on my bottom eyelids, not eyelashes on my bottom). I swear I used to have them. Now they're mostly gone. Oh how I wish everytime I'd brushed an eyelash off my cheek in irritation I'd stored it in some dainty little eyelash box so it could be transplanted now that I need replacements.

-learn to speak German. This just aint happening. Mads officially understands way more than me. And she loves to correct my pronunciation. Show-off kid.

Ugg Love

OK, so I have to admit I've owned ugg boots before. Growing up in Ringwood it was practically manditory. The thing I remember about them most was that if you walked more than a few hundred metres in them your feet began to melt from overheating. And I remember that they became smelly quickly. It was only later that I realised they were also deeply unfashionable and something you should probably not admit to ever having owned.

So at first I was quite surprised to see the popularity of ugg boots in Frankfurt - especially on otherwise stylishly dressed women. Someone told me it was because Posh Spice wore some once, but I haven't been able to find any photographic evidence of this. And then as the temperature began to drop I began finding myself looking at the uggs around me with a certain amount of envy. The ugg wearers looked comfy. They weren't hoping from one foot to the other in an agitated fashion. They seemed at ease with the ugliness of their footwear. I found myself examining at a pair in a shop. Do you know how much ugg boots cost here? Anywhere between 160 euros to 300 euros. Go and currency-convert that and truly your ghast will be flabbered.

Things sped up after that. There was a quick email to the Parental Unit,which set in motion a trip to the Vic market. Then lo - I had acquired myself a Christmas present. 75 Aussie bucks thanks very much. Stubbie holder thrown in for free.

At first I promised myself that my uggs would only take me to the local park and the swimming pool - nowhere else. But then I found myself conveniently forgetting I had them on and heading to the supermarket in them. And then to the further-away supermarket. Then one day I thought 'stuff it, I'm going to kindy in them,' and that's what I did, although I could see the teachers staring ('there goes that weird foriegn mother in her 300 euro shoes'). And you know what? It felt great. My toes were so snuggly and happy that I stopped caring. Warm feet = happiness. I smiled smugly at anyone who stared. Yes, they're ugg boots. They feel good. Stuff you. The day we went tobogganing and mum was practically crying from the coldness of her toes confirmed my ugg love because my feet were fine.

So now I wear them everywhere. And they don't even stink yet.