Tuesday, October 18, 2016

R-O-C-K in the Deutschland

Last night, I went to my fifth concert in Germany and I am about to give up. I lived in New York for almost nine years and I never came close to a concert. Eight million people fighting for one seat. The odds were not in my favor. The odds are in my favor in Germany but it almost doesn't matter because the experience is not as great as it was in Philadelphia, the site of my birth and where I have spent most of my life.

I remember the first time I went to a concert alone. I had no trepidation because I knew I would be surrounded by the love of one group. I was right. I danced and laughed and screamed and high fives strangers who were my best friends for three hours.

I was surprised that when I went to my first concert in Germany, people around me sat through most of Madonna's MDNA concert. Meanwhile, I was dancing through most of the opening act, Martin Solveig.

The same thing happened when I saw U2 and Beyonce.

Robert Smith & Co. at Hamburg's Barclaycard Arena

Last night, I had amazing seats to see The Cure. By now, I have adjusted my expectations. I have enough energy for myself. I don't need anything from my fellow concertgoers. However, I was shocked about how low the crowd could go. At my first concert in Hamburg [I saw Madonna twice in Berlin and U2 in Berlin; Beyonce slayed Frankfurt.], I was told several times to SIT DOWN.

Unfortunately, my usual partner in crime was too sick to come, so I went alone. Fortunately, I had the area around two seats to dance around.

The first man asked me to sit and I said no. My answer shocked him and he asked me again. Again, I said, "Nein." He looked at me for about ten seconds and then walked away. Next up was some 19-year-old-looking girl nicely told me to sit down. When I replied in the negative, she asked me why. I said nothing.

I was sitting on the aisle. In the middle of the concert, some guy started walking toward me. I wasn't sure why. He had crutches in his hand and passed them over my legs and then he knocked me out of the way. I guess he decided to sit in someone else's seat; not my Immortal Beloved's unused seat. He put down his crutches and immediately started videotaping or photographing the concert. Obviously, I was sitting when he trespassed. An emotional ballad was moving through the air. When one of My Songs came on, I started dancing. This interloper demanded that I sit down. I said no. He demanded again. Again, I said, "Nein." He said, "Doch." I said, "Nein."

It is ridiculous that people think their wish is my command. It is a concert, not a library. This Philadelphian wanted someone to push the idea but no one did. If I could have knocked one person down, then there wouldn't be anymore requests. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and the photographer demanded that I sit down several more times.

I think I may have to see my next concerts in Spain or Italy, one of the more boisterous countries.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ready, Set, Hillary!

The recently-ended presidential debate has motivated me.

For once, I am NOT voting at the very last second. Thank you, Donald J. Trump [a bit of credit should go to an inept Lester Holt].

Friday, June 17, 2016

One Reason America is Awesome

After a week of bemoaning another act of senseless violence, I decided to focus on something that makes America great.

When I was home in March, I was bombarded by commercials for pizza wrapped in bacon. I was appalled and attracted at the same time.

I truly believe that everything can be improved with bacon, butter or cheese. I am also aware that processed meat flung on top of cheese that is melted onto bread that is swathed in bacon is scary unhealthy. I also had a strong suspicion that combination would taste awesome.

Because I kept seeing the commercials, I kept talking about this new menu option. My mother listened to my complaints and heard desire.

When my mother was getting me ghetto Chinese food (so that a major food wish would come true), she stopped off at the pizza place two doors down from the Chinese restaurant. She forced me to encounter my frenemy -- bacon-wrapped pizza. That is why mothers are so great. They help you fulfill your dreams.

The pizza was as delicious as I thought it would be. It was only the beginning of a feast. It is best to eat pizza first because heat helps hold all of the amazingness together. I followed that gastronomic majesty with vegetable egg foo young. That was one of the best meals that I have ever had. I mean that in all sincerity.

You can't get this combination of fat, salt and flavor in Deutschland. That is probably a good thing.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Looking Back

America leads the world . . . in most areas of popular culture. The only place Europe head of the good ole US of A is electronic music. That would be a plus if I was an EDM fan.

I am a fan of television. Germany has terrible television. Germany has finally beat America to one thing -- Wayward Pines.

Wayward Pines is a mediocre science fiction limited-edition series broadcast of Fox. For some reason, Wayward Pines is broadcast at 9 p.m. in Germany on Thursdays and 9 p.m. on Thursdays in the United States. Through the miracle of the earth rotation, Germany is ahead of the United States. I have been bored by the antics of a this mysterious town six hours earlier than my American brethren.

Courtesy of Fox Broadcasting

Tonight is the last episode. My reign is about to end. I am back to being behind.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Need to Know Basis

I, like the overwhelming number of Americans, would like to think that the health care systems in every other country stinks. Well, people who have lived in another country know that is not true.

I've just finished a stint in a renowned hospital in Kiel, Germany. The "health" part was excellent but the "care" part was a hot mess.

My eye doctor sent me to the emergency room for neurology patients. [Yes, that's a thing here. A ER for every problem and a neurology ER or problems specific to the nervous system. See, the U.S. doesn't have everything.]. She sent me there because I couldn't get an appointment for tests for a suspected problem for three months. One point for the United States.

Before I went, she told me that there would be a long wait. Cool. I checked my schedule and picked Thursday, October 16. I went in around
3 p.m. My work day was done and I assumed that all the morning rush hour problems would be cleared out and the after-work emergencies would not have occurred by then. I happily showed up with my iPad stocked with magazines and television shows. I was so wrong.

Like everything in Germany, there was poor signage. It took me a while to find the Neurozentrum Notfall. When I got there, there was no one and no sign telling me what to do. After five minutes, I went to the only open room and asked if I was in the right place. There, someone told me to stand against the wall and someone would help me. That made no sense, so I just sat down. Around 4, I snagged someone rushing by in blue scrubs and asked if I was at the right place. She said I was and took a DVD that held an image of the inside of my skull and some forms from my eye doctor and radiologist. About an hour later, she returned the disc to me. That would be the last time I would speak to someone officially for hours. Asmus came to keep me company around 6:30. I was getting hungry, so I was happy to see him because he brought some nuts and grapes and water.

My beloved is so laidback all the time, so it was shocking to discover that he cannot wait patiently. His irritation led to my irritation. I timidly went to the first room I visited to ask where I was in line. Two women barked at me that someone would be with me in a minute. I knew that couldn't be true. About an hour later, Asmus asked if we should go home and come back in a few hours and a woman told us they have no idea when something may happen but we shouldn't dare leave the ER.

The force that kept from punching a hole in a wall from a delicate combination of frustration, boredom and disgust.
Thank you, Cecilia.

After a while, we gave up and decided to leave but someone somewhere had the documents that I had brought with me and I needed them back. When we went to get them, we got a bunch of apologies from the new shift and were told that there were only two people in front of us. We waited. Around 11, a doctor apologized and said we would be seen in about 15 minutes. At midnight, we were taken back to see a doctor.

Nine hours after I entered the ER, my reflexes were tested, I was asked the same questions that were answered on my documents and I was strongly urged to check in to the hospital.

I took the advice. With only my iPad for protection, I entered a hospital at 1 a.m. In a daze, I hurriedly made a list of things for my husband to bring me. He rushed home and rushed back.

The lack of information I experienced at the ER was not an anomaly. Like the rest of this nation, the hospital did not give up information without your specifically asking for it. Every day was an adventure because I didn't know what was planned for me each day. I quickly learned that my alarm clock was my blood pressure check at 7 a.m. by someone wearing white scrubs. I didn't know anyone's name but I learned the people taking my blood pressure were nurses. I eventually learned that my pressure was checked at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. What happened between then was a surprise. One day, on Monday, nothing happened until 3:30 in the afternoon.

At that time, I was wheeled down for a lumbar puncture. A man rushed into the room and said there was a mistake. "We" [I was not included in this "we." "We" were some group of doctors.] had decided to do a special MRI, then do the test and then do another MRI; this way we can compare images, he explained. He had run up stairs to try to stop them from bringing me down. I wondered why he didn't use a phone but didn't ask this. I was wheeled into the hallway, while they found someone to wheel me back upstairs to my room. This meant that I would be in the hospital an extra day. This also meant that I was going to break my hospital stay record of five days. I was not happy about my days of bad sleep and boredom but I was accepted it. While I was thinking of all the things I would need to do to accommodate this extended stay, the same doctor came out to me and said, "We" had been talking and decided because of my symptoms, there was no need for comparison. I hadn't had any symptoms; my eye doctor had found a problem that she wanted investigated. I didn't question this new decision.

The assumption was now there was a problem. One minute, I needed two MRIs and a test. The next, all of that was unnecessary. This all should have been very confusing but it wasn't because after three days in the hospital, I had become immune to expecting courtesy, logic and scheduling.

After four days in the hospital, no one told me when visiting hours were, how I got television and telephone service, if there was a lounge, and who my nurses and doctors were. Luckily, Cecilia, a friend who worked in the hospital, told me what she knew.

I was cool with not knowing. On Tuesday, I was sent to the ophthalmologist right before lunch. Of course, I didn't know I was going to the eye doctor and I didn't know what for. A gruff man came to my door and I left with him. Shockingly, he was not medical personnel. He was a taxi driver. I was driven to a different building on the hospital campus. I didn't know that was coming. That was an annoying surprise. I missed my lunch and didn't bring a jacket to the cold four-and-a-half-hour wait and cursed my life.

When I returned to my room, I pressed the call button because there was no one at the nurses station. I asked her what was happening to me next. She politely said, I don't know.

The care was great. There a lumbar puncture attempt Friday afternoon. It went so badly that I was crying and screaming during the whole thing. One of the doctors performing the procedure rubbed my back and said, I'm sorry, over and over again. That lumbar puncture attempt failed. During the session on Monday, it failed twice and succeeded once. Those failures went as badly as the first. Those failures were also accompanied by crying, screaming, soothing and back rubs. Comforting from people in scrubs went way beyond the call of duty. I was embarrassed and very grateful for that.

On Monday, I was allowed to leave my room and give them my cell phone number. I would be called if anyone wanted to poke me or question me. I was allowed to go outside. I used this freedom to connect to a hot spot and, thus, the world. [Since Thursday afternoon, I had no newspaper, no television and no radio. That is not completely true. "They" wanted me to stay in the hospital all weekend. I asked for a furlough and I was given an urlaub [vacation]. I left my hospital room Saturday morning and returned to it 7:58 p.m. Sunday night -- two minutes earlier than my deadline.] I was sitting on a park bench outside the hospital on Monday and Tuesday, when I was called in for tests. I appreciate not being cooped in my box all the time. That was caring of the staff.

Zero Forks

I would not consider myself a foodie, but the images below do you depict the most unnerving things that had ever been put before me as vehicles for nutrition and enjoyment. Perhaps that's it! As I typed that sentence, I realized, the food may have only been for nutrition. To heck with enjoyment. If that is the case, then The mission was accomplished.

This is breakfast. Yum!
It was a traditional German breakfast -- bread with deli meat and/or cheese and yogurt. This was supposed to break the fast from the previous evening's dinner. That was one piece of mortadella with either pistachio bits or mushroom bits. I couldn't tell, so I didn't eat it. The idea of processed laced with nuts gives me the willies.

This ws dinner. Look familiar? This is what an older German might eat for dinner. Of course, there was bread on the plate to the left. I could recognize cheese on the plate to the right but that was all. I had even nibbled on one of the pieces of meat, but I still couldn't tell what it was. The dish in the center holds BEETS.
BEETS. Ugh. Why beets? No one likes beets. There must have been a sale on the root.
For dessert, yes, that was, yogurt.

This was lunch. As it turns out, the big meal of the day. If I hadn't had the menu, I wouldn't have even known what it was. After I tried it, I wasn't even sure what it was. This is a picture of roasted chicken covered in hollandaise sauce served with mashed potatoes. The chicken deflated when I dug into it with my fork and so did my heart.

This was not cafeteria food but hospital food. My expectations were low but not this low.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I cannot decide if this is a sign of the apocalypse or the most amazing thing ever invented.

This machine recently arrived at a gas station near our home in Kiel, Germany. You put in 4.50 euros, wait three minutes and you get a piping hot pizza. 

It even takes debit cards.

If the outside of the machine can be believed, the pizza is made from the freshest tomatoes, robust basil and delectable mozzarella.

In a perfect world, I would have one in my living room or never see it again. I cannot decide.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter, where ya been?

Winter finally came to Kiel last Wednesday, it came out of nowhere.

The birds were even caught off guard.

I finally found something that people in Kiel cannot complain about him – cold weather. All year long, you hear whining about the near-constant rain and seemingly permanent gray skies. Mysteriously, I haven't heard one unkind word about the 12° weather and the 3 inches of snow.

I love winter!

The saddest bird in the world.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time is slipping away from me.

It feels like my March birthday was last week. However, Yesterday was the first day of the Christmas Market in Kiel.

I kicked off the season with baked ham in a brown sauce served over penne. That was chased with apple cider with cinnamon and calavados.

It was cold, so the first meal was short but oh so sweet.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Shopping Queen

Germans do many things well -- create amazing cars, compose grand operas and craft good beer. Produce interesting television is not a member of that club.

I have heard stories of immigrants to the United States say they perfected their English by watching television. I tried to emulate that here. Unfortunately, about 80% of prime time television is German-dubbed versions of American crime shows. I am not a fan of CSI in America, so I sure ain't watching it when the lips don't match the words. I gave up on German television a long time ago.

Northern Europeans don't experience much crime, so they search it out in books, films and television shows. Most of the television shows here are people solving some murder. The most popular television show here is Tatort [The Scene of the Crime]. This has been running since 1970. It follows detectives in different German cities find the killer. A few months ago, I tuned in to see the show that was based in my home, Kiel.

It is for this reason that I ended my brief hiatus from my new pet peeve, Shopping Queen. This week, Shopping Queen is taking place in Kiel, the capital of the northernmost state in Germany. Kiel is famous for sailing. In my opinion, Kiel is the city that fashion forgot. That is unfortunate because Shopping Queen is a show about fashion.

Cast of Shopping Queen: Kiel. Source: Kieler Nachrichten

Shopping Queen is a friendly competitive reality show. Five women are given a theme, 500 euros and four hours. They must create an outfit, get their hair or makeup done and be accessorized. At first, I delighted in seeing the clothes, the frenzy, the different cities and people's houses [while one person shops, the four stay at the shopper's home]. But I quickly fell out of love. Because the average woman is focused on the inside and not the outside, the fashion sense is not so great. The people with fashion acumen were not understood by their competitors, so they got low scores. Those lost in the sauce got high scores. I was screaming at the television show, like my team was losing the Super Bowl. The only saving grace was the Mizrahi-level wit, Guido Maria Kretschmer. Guido is a couture designer [who appeared on Oxygen's The Face last spring]. He pops on screen and makes crazy commentary while watching footage of shopping. During the reveal on the catwalk, he gives thorough judgement. On the last day, he gives scores that are added to the scores of competitors.

Despite Guido, I stepped away. It was just too much. Okay, I watched two or three episodes on a boring Saturday but that was it for about six weeks. But I was back Monday because the show came to Kiel. I heard the show was taping here a few months ago. I was looking around for the Shopping Queen van and the accompanying chaos. I saw nothing. I watched the show and I see that my neighborhood is featured prominently in every episode! Kiel is a city of 270,000 people but all the cool things are in one place -- my 'hood.

This week, the goal is to create the perfect bridesmaid look. I think Christina, the woman in the brown dress, is going to win. You can see all five shows at: