I will blog about my experience in the-country-to-be-named-here-later. But not until after the experience is complete. Stay tuned.
I do not want to leave Europe quite yet and go back to the USA. I don't feel "done" with Europe. I have many more things I want to see and do here. I just have this awful feeling that if I don't go to Rome and see more Eastern Europe this year, I never will. I believe Stefan feels the same way.
And in addition, I'm still hoping we run into Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman on their way down to Africa this year (yeah, that'll happen).
But I am still trying to gather the information I need to move back to the USA, even if I'm not moving until 2008. I think I have all the info I need regarding bringing a dog into the USA (unless that changes), what paper work I will need, etc. I still need suggestions regarding shipping companies for moving my things from Germany to the USA. If you have any suggestions that could help me, please, please, please let me know.
I'm now posting my photos to Flickr. Enjoy!
You may have heard how, in early 2006, two unexploded bombs were found on trains in Germany. The detonators on the bombs went off, but failed to ignite the devices.
I frequently ride the line on which one of the bombs was found, which go through Cologne and end in Koblenz. I don't think I took a train the day the bombs were found.
Yes, it gave me pause. But so did being threatened by an anti-choice right-wing Christian advocate at a festival in California once upon a time. So did the shootings of staff and volunteers at health clinics in the USA. So did the bombing of Olympic park in Atlanta. So did the bombing of the federal building of Oklahoma.
Extremists are everywhere. I learned to live with that fact a long time ago.
Stefan discovered a web site recently that I've become obsessed with. It's called Alemannia Judaica, and it details pre-WWII Jewish communities and culture in Germany. It's mostly in German, but using its English information, as well as an online translation program, I was able to find out about the Jewish communities of the area I live now (around Remagen). A sobering site, showing the rich heritage of Jews in the area, and how events like Kristallnacht (in November 1938) happened all over Germany, even in tiny villages. You can use this search function to look up specific cities.
Here's what I found out about where I live now: in Sinzig, a relatively large Jewish community existed in the Middle Ages (as such communities did throughout Germany). Around 1925, Sinzig and Remagen formed the joint synagogue district Sinzig-Remagen, which included the villages of Westum, Löhndorf, Bodendorf, Oberwinter, Niederbreisig, Brohl and Oberbreisig. At that time, there were 39 Jewish inhabitants of Sinzig, and the four school-age Jewish children received religion class in Linz, across the Rhine from Remagen. 41 Jewish inhabitants were counted in 1933. Per the economic boycott of Jewish businesses and growing hostilities, a large part of the Jewish population left the area in the following years.
On the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, the windows of the synagogue in Sinzig were broken, and its books and interior contents, including the Torah, were ignited on a pile in the yard. Kristallnacht (also known as Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht and the Night of Broken Glass) was a pogrom against Jews throughout Germany and parts of Austria on November 9 - 10, 1938. Jewish homes and stores were ransacked in a thousand German cities, towns and villages, as both Nazi party members and ordinary German citizens attacked buildings, sometimes with sledgehammers, leaving the streets covered in smashed windows ‹ the origin of the name "Night of Broken Glass." Jews were also beaten to death. Following the Pogromnacht in Sinzig, 19 Jewish persons still lived in Sinzig and surrounding villages. In 1942, the remaining Jewish population of the area was deported to concentration camps.
The Sinzig synagogue building was sold in 1939 by the city and, in the war, the building became soldiers quarters. After 1945, the building came back into the possession of the Jewish Kultusgemeinde Koblenz, which sold it in 1953 to the city for 5,000 DM. The city let it decompose in the following years, however, so that it had to be torn down around 1970. On the plot of land, a parking lot was built. A part of the building in private possession was preserved, but was torn down in 1998. On the 30 April 1992, a commemorative stone was erected after many years of negotiations in the local council. But we haven't been able to find it yet...
Salute to Cloris Leachman
I love Cloris Leachman. I think she is as great an actress as Meryl Streep.
In 2006, Cloris Leachman took home the Emmy for best guest actress on a comedy series for her role as the cranky grandmother who sues her own family on "Malcolm in the Middle." It marks her EIGHTH Prime time Emmy, the most amassed by a single actress. She's also won an Oscar for her performance in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show . Her most memorable character depends on your age -- it's either her role on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," or Frau Blöcher in Young Frankenstein . She even posed "au naturel" on the cover of Alternative Medicine Digest (issue 15, 1997), with her body painted with images of fruit. It was a parody, or imitation, of the famous Demi Moore body painted nude Vanity Fair photo.
She said regarding her award, "I'm 80, and if your heart doesn't stop beating, and you stay up with it, look what can happen." I hope I can be as cool when I'm 80.
Okay, yes, she also made "Herbie Goes Bananas" and appeared on "Facts of Life." I forgive her for that. And when I'm 80, I want to be as cool as Cloris Leachman.
When I was last in the USA (in July 2006), I picked up a book I hadn't heard of: The Known World, by Edward P. Jones, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004. It was on a table of staff recommendations at a bookstore, and that and the Pulitzer label convinced me to buy it. It turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read. It's a masterpiece , and I don't use that word lightly. Like Uncle Tom's Cabin, this books illustrates not only the evils of slavery on slaves themselves, but its soul-corrupting influence on owners. The over-lapping plot lines, time shifts and multiple characters can make it a difficult read, but I learned a trick from struggling with Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie books: be in a place where you won't be distracted and just let the text wash over you; it will sink in more than you might think at the time. This book will draw you in to a point that the rest of the world melts away. I read every word of this book -- no skimming, and I just felt so there . The whole experience of reading this book felt magical. Beware of reading it in an airport - you might miss your boarding call.
One night, I'm channeling surfing, and I came across a black and white science fiction show with the campiest look I think I have ever seen, so campy that I thought it might be a new comedy show. Turns out it was "Raumpatroille Orion" (Space Patrol Orion), Germany's own "Star Trek," produced around the same time. It was so awful, it was fabulous, the swinging music in particular. And then there was the women's hair: it was all the same, except in shading, because they were all wearing wigs. But there were some substantial differences in the show that made it even more progressive than Star Trek: the women wore the same uniforms as the men, and there were women commanders, including a woman general.
But the German sci-fi camp didn't stop there: just a few weeks later, I came across "Böhne frei för Marika," a movie from 1958 with a sci-fi jungle musical number you must see to believe. Why "Mystery Science Theater 3000" missed this golden opportunity, I will never know.
I grew up with Ed Bradley on "60 Minutes." How can he be gone?
FACT: U.S. deaths in Iraq exceed those in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American War, not to mention the combined U.S. deaths of all this country's other military actions since Vietnam -- including Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the first Gulf War, Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo and Afghanistan. And more US servicemen and women have died in Iraq than died in the terrorist attacks on September 11.
By now, you all know that we're engaged. We're having the civil ceremony on Jan. 31, and the uncivil ceremony, also known as the big wedding party for family and friends, much later this year, with the Rev. Cosgrove Nordstadt presiding. If you are thinking about coming, look over these tips for visiting me, as it will help you in looking into flights and planning your time while here.
On a related note: Recently, I was cooking dinner (yes, I do that... but only on the weekends) and the phone rang. I answered and a woman said, "Hi, Jayne? You don't know me. My name is xxxx." (okay, that's not really her name) "I'm from Newburg, Indiana and someone just sent me your engagement announcement from The Gleaner . You see, I live just down the street from you in Sinzig."
I kid you not. She's lived in Germany for more than 30 years. We're getting together soon to walk our dogs.
I had almost not put the engagement announcement in my hometown paper, because I figured anyone I still knew back in Henderson, Kentucky had already heard from me about the engagement. But I decided to do it because I knew my grandparents would get lots of attention because of it, and since they won't be able to come over for the wedding party later this year, it would be a good way to involve them. I'm really glad I did it now, because in addition, my best friend from the sixth grade wrote me -- I had so wanted to reconnect with her, but had no idea what her name was now nor how to reach her. Hurrah for Google (that's how she found me).
Thanks to Kendra for sending copies of Firefly and Serenity. I can't believe the show got cancelled after just one season -- it's better than 90% of what I've seen coming out of the US since leaving Germany (along with Lost and The Closer). After Nathan Fillion's riveting and utterly terrifying performance as a villain on "Buffy", I didn't know if I could buy him in a completely different role. Well, buy him I do.
After viewing Firefly, I've decided that, in my alternative universe, George Lucas hires Joss Whedon to write episodes 1 - 3 of Star Wars, as well as Return of the Jedi, and Peter Jackson directs at least two of those. Why? Because Firefly has the spirit and sass and rough edges of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, which the rest of the movies COMPLETELY LACK.
Just when I thought I couldn't love the Asylum Street Spankers any more than I already do, someone sent me a link to one of their videos on YouTube. Oh how I miss Austin, Texas...
Stefan has two motorcycle trips planned for this year, one in May and one in September, one both in Eastern Europe. I hope to join him on the one in September. We would camp again, as we did throughout Scotland.
As I said in the opening of this blawg, I'm also hoping to finally visit Rome this year, which I hope I like more than my previous experience in Italy. I also want to spend yet another long weekend in London, for once with Stefan, and a long weekend in Edinburgh, which neither of us have ever seen. What would make the perfect year would be to also go to Avila and IEMA again in October, for two or three weeks, then take the next level of the DELE exam in November. But I probably won't have the time nor the money.
All this, plus whatever job I take, means a lot of traveling, I know. Albi will not be pleased. I hate leaving her. I cry at least once when Stefan and I are on a trip together, or when I'm away for more than two weeks by myself, because I worry about her and miss her so. I know that our landlords takes wonderful care of her, and that she loves walking with them and their dog, Busty -- but I know she misses us terribly. My other dream this year is to take Albi camping with us somewhere, preferably the Black Forest. She's never been camping, at least not with us, and I know she would love it.
We haven't been able to take her to snow this season. Last year, we took her to deep snow less than two hours away, and she ran herself ragged; she was so tired by the time the day was over we had to pick her up and put her in the car. This year -- geesh, is there any snow in Germany?
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