Monday, June 28, 2010

Super American

USA goalkeeper Tim Howard reaches for a goal against England in the
first full day of the World Cup on June 12. We tied! No one scored.

The longer that I am away from America, the more "American" I have become. I don't moan when someone offers me mayonnaise for my French fries, instead of ketchup. I don't groan when someone mispronounces my name.

I hate it when people think I am from Africa. Two weeks ago, I was having a cocktail at Mango's, a restaurant in which I have had plenty of cocktails. The television was broadcasting the highlights of the day's World Cup match. In German, my server congratulated me on the playing of the "Elfbeinküste" team. I was so proud that I had been able to do basic greetings and order in German but sadly I was stumped by the team name. I tore up my brain to find the word. I recently heard it. It was familiar. Thirty seconds later, I got it.
Elfbeinküste was the Ivory Coast. The African nation had played Portugal earlier in the day. The small country shocked the world when it tied the European powerhouse. The German server thought I was from the Ivory Coast. I politely corrected him. I could have said nothing but I am AMERICAN dammit!

Quite often Germans think I am from Africa. For a while, people would ask me if I was from Uganda. Then it was Ghana. I still get Ghana a lot. Sometimes people just ask me where in Africa I come from. Germany does not have a long history of immigration, so many here think Black people only come from the African continent.

So I am living in Europe, so adjust a bit. I live with a German man, so I watch World Cup soccer. I even call it football. I watch Germany play but my heart beats red, white and blue, so I only really care when America plays. And then I watch under duress. I like to win so much that it is too stressful to watch. I did not watch the last match in the early rounds, when America had to win or go home. I was ecstatic when someone told me about Donovan Landon's less-than-a-minute-to-go goal.

I loved that people were scared of the U.S. in soccer. I was thrilled that the USA fielded such a ethnically-diverse team. Plus, our team was coached by an American, not some coach who bowed to the highest bidder.

Donovan Landon after scoring the winning goal
against Algeria June 23. That was the shocking
win that got the US in to the Round of 16.

I was still so proud of the team when it lost to Ghana. It took a long time to get to that deciding goal.

Now I will have to support Deutschlands Mannschaft [Germany's Team] 100%.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ain't That a Kick in the Head

Tor! That's German for Goal!

Life is different here. Of course, it is but now more than usual. That's because it's time for the World Cup!

Because I had European friends, I knew it was a big deal but it is different to be in the middle of World Cup insanity.

Germans are so calm and reserved but not when there is a black-and-white ball rolling around. They get a lively. I like the World Cup effect here.

Asmus made me watch England take on the United States Friday night. I was happy to skip over the event because everyone, Everyone, including the U.S. team, predicted American defeat at the hands of its former oppressor (Yes, taxation without representation, indeed.) I was happy to witness a tie! Yahoo! Even Steven. Take that England!

I was ready for fun Sunday night. That was Germany's first game. They took on Australia. A new sports bar opened up around the corner from us, so made a date to be there at 7:30. an hour before the match started. We got there around 7:45 and there were no seats.

There were tables outside but I am not one for the out of doors, so we went to a restaurant that is officially called Alex and I refer to as the worst service in the world. The tables directly in front of the projector screen were filled but there were plenty of options a step away.

The Crowd watching Australia lose to Germany their first match at the World Cup.

After the little kids walk the players out, the German national anthem played. No one in Alex stood up or put their hands over their hearts. That is a relief. I am not sure of foreigner etiquette. I do not know the words to the German national anthem and it would be dishonest to symbolically place my hand over my heart. I ain't that crazy about the country. Then the Australian anthem played. The players put their hands over their hearts and sang. It seems this hand-over-the-heart thing may be a vestige of our British past. Damn Oppressors!

The game started and it was quiet. Quiet except the so-annoying-that-I-want-to-kill-myself horns, the vuvuzela. The crowd rises to a roar as the ball gets close to the Australia's goal and it exploded when it went in four times.

Cacau just scored a goal and the crowd goes mildly excited.

It was nice relaxing game. Australia was supposed to lose and they really lived out that prediction. At the end, there was light applause and then restaurant cleared out.

But from our apartment, we heard fireworks and cars honking and cheering.

I cannot wait until the opening matches are over. I want to be in a swirl of cheering.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No Use Crying Over Spilled Blood

On our first full day, Asmus and I did the tour bus thing. It was one of the hop-on hop-off. Our goal was the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood. That was my choice. Czar Nicholas II was fatally attacked on the spot where the church now stands January 1881. The ground was broken October 1883. It officially opened August 1907. It is built in a Russian style popular in the early 1800s. I love it. It is too much. Too much decoration. Too much gold. To much color. I love too much. It has those onion domes and mosaic on the outside.

The inside is entirely decorated in mosaics, which depict stories from the Bible.

View of the Ceiling

Iconstasis. Christian churches in Eastern Europes have a wall of icons and
religious paintings that separate the nave from the sanctuary.

There is a black pagoda-like structure on the exact location where the king was shot.

There's also an ATM in the church. I love a church with an ATM. Many churches in Hamburg sell wine. Churches in Europe are fun.

This magnificent building stopped being an active church in 1930 by Communists, who were not fans of religion. It was a warehouse for decades. In 1970 the government allowed it to be returned to its former glory. After 27 years, it was done.