Saturday, May 31, 2008


This evening, my husband was trying to help me with my new website when all of a sudden we had no power. Now it wasn't a complete surprise, as we both knew something "special" was going on today because our neighbor tried to explain something about "Strom" about a week ago and asked us, "hadn't we read some letter about this?"

Now I vaguely remembered trying to read a letter filled with a non-stop string of 20-letter German words, but by the time I had gotten through the fifth word or so my wimpy Anglo endurance had begged for relief and I had set it aside for the time that never seems to come when I have the patience for the German language.

A few days ago, when I had asked our neighbor to clarify her blahs by asking, "Ok, so we will have no Strom (power) on Saturday..." she would shake her head and say a few more blahs. So all I was left with was the knowledge that something would happen. Whew. Another accomplishment to add to my collection in this crazy country.

The frustrating thing was, once the power was cut, we had no idea how long the power would be out for, so after an hour, I was really ready for dinner and growing more impatient by the second. My husband figured we'd just use the grill to make our dinner. So I planned carefully as to only open the fridge door once to retrieve all we would need for dinner. We were ready to grill burgers, power or not. But wouldn't you know it, this is the moment the grill decides to run out of gas. Lovely. The stores are closed and we have no car.

After bashing everything Swiss (this is completely normal and happens whenever something goes wrong while living here) the power came on just before 8 pm and we finally could make a dinner and I was saved from my husband's final solution: Burger King.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blog Correction

A week or two ago, one of my Swiss friends discovered my blog. Therefore, I have updated a recent entry, due to his thoughtful comments on my horrendous use of the German language.

While I wrote “Nächste Halt, Genf” (Next stop, Geneva) as the title, the correct spelling is actually “Nächster Halt, Genf”.

Yes. I had the nerve (or in this case the ignorance) to leave off the “R” on "Nächster". This is really terrible, because without the final R, a German speaker is left very upset and confused.

Not about the meaning of the phrase, mind you. But by using only an “e” on the end of the word, I have unknowingly declared the word “stop” to be feminine when it is in fact masculine. This is really offensive (think about how guys feel when someone calls them a girl) and I apologize to any German readership. It must be unimaginable to a German speaker to be so ignorant as to go through life thinking “stop” is sexless and then at last minute, declare it feminine just for the heck of it.

After all, what could be more important than knowing things such as, oh wow, the word “paper” is neutral (maybe because it’s blank), but the word “girl” is also neutral (what?), but “mistake” is masculine (finally, one that makes sense).

In any case, I must be extra careful as I try to write snippets of foreign languages as my readership has expanded to include a few more people besides just my mother. But as I’m still pretty clueless when it comes to the German language, I offer a hearty Entschuldigung to all my German readers in advance. And in the future, please let me know my mistakes (especially the masculine ones, as those are the most satisfying). Thanks.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Talking Shit

Sometimes I wonder why I can never seem to get anything done on my days off. Today, at least, it’s because I’m dealing with shit. Literally.

I finally get down to editing an essay I am working on. Then, when I’m finally getting somewhere on it, I look over and see I have company.

A bird. Who’s sitting happily on our family room armchair.

Now I am all for big, wall-sized Swiss windows that open like doors, but the whole lack of screen thing is a little third world. Especially since there’s a lack of air conditioning along with it.

Due to this, I have two choices in the summer. Sweat to death. Or live like I’m on a campground.

It’s one thing to be chasing around huge bees and wasps while you’re trying to work. It’s another to have to deal with birds.

As I’m trying to get the bird to get off the armchair, he poops with no remorse and then flies to sit on our houseplant. I open the windows as wide as they’ll go and try to get him outside. But he flies the other way, bouncing right off the opposite window.

He doesn’t die. Instead he hides behind the armchair, probably soiling the curtains while he’s at it. So I run to the kitchen to try the breadcrumb thing. No luck. Finally he tries out the other houseplant. I wave him off and he flies toward me, almost hitting me in the head, causing me to scream. And then, finally, he flies out the windows.

Can I get back to work? No. Because I have to open Google and research how to get bird poop off furniture. But all I can find is a product called Poop-Off, definitely a U.S. product. So I give up and try the dish soap approach. We’ll see how that turns out.

Yep. Another day of life in Switzerland. How time flies. Especially when you’re chasing things that also do.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Me and the (Swiss) Boys, Part II

This continues my night out with the Swiss film club.

After the meal we walked a few blocks to the cinema. It was surprisingly large for a Swiss theater and the kind of place that makes you feel guilty for actually buying popcorn as the floor was cleaner than my own so I had no qualms about setting my purse under my seat. (Something I would never do in a US theater as I would probably have to put up a fight to retrieve it from the sticky floor afterwards).

The movie (Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull thing) was in English with German and French subtitles. I mainly ignored them, pleased to be able to understand something for once in this crazy country. I did check the subtitles for words like “insanity” (Wahnsinn) and “stupid” (Dumm) to make sure their meanings were cemented in my head, as these kinds of words are always the most useful in a strange place.

The other thing I focused on was my laugh. Because usually it was alone in its glory. I laughed when the kid Mutt said, “My mother’s going to have a cow,” because I haven’t heard that phrase since high school. But apparently they don't say that in Switzerland, although they should really learn it as it would be most appropriate.

They say people feed off each other’s reactions when watching movies together, but this clearly is not the case, at least in Switzerland as no other Swiss felt like following my laugh at such things as a joke about Sears Roebuck and company. But hey, solo laughing in a theater is part of the experience.

I was thrown off by the intermission, which is not strategically placed at any certain point in the story, just when the reel runs out, so in the middle of a battle scene, suddenly the lights come on, which is jarring no matter if you expect an intermission or not.

Overall, I felt the movie lacked an emotional connection, but my Swiss friend was in love from the beginning since it brought him back to being 16 again, and for that reason alone, it was worth the viewing. The effects were fun, and the first half was entertaining enough, but it really fell apart after the intermission. Suddenly skeletons were turning to aliens and poor Dr. Jones went through two hours of battling the evil Soviets and termites to discover nothing but knowledge. What a disappointment. Who wants knowledge when you can conquer a kingdom or something? Oh well. It was a fun evening out anyhow.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Me and the (Swiss) Boys, Part I

I had the pleasure of being invited to see the premier of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in Switzerland before, as my Swiss friend gleefully informed me, anyone in the United States could. Knowing my friend, he had surely researched this fact, so I didn’t doubt him, but was just pleasantly surprised to find a film actually showing in Swiss theaters before the U.S. DVD was released.

The evening began at the Zeughauskeller, a popular restaurant in Zurich with both tourist and locals alike. I met my Swiss friend there for a dinner with his film club. As I stood at the door looking for a familiar face, finally I saw my friend waving me over to a large round table, half filled with a group of Swiss men in their 40s.

They were all very nice and I was seated strategically between my friend and another guy that spoke perfect English. The waiter was very friendly, something I’m not very used to with my foreigner status. But since I was with a group of Swiss, the whole eating out thing was a pleasant experience. I ordered a Coke and pasta with asparagus, since it’s one of the things I could actually read on the German menu, even though for once, I actually had the option of having an interpreter.

As I thirstily reached for my five-dollar, 33ml Coke, once again I experienced the shock that comes when you realize it’s not ice-cold. (Or really cold at all for that matter). I don’t know why this always surprises me, since after two years here, I should try to appreciate warm beverages for all that they can be, but I just can’t stop pining that $1.79, 32 oz glass of ice dribbled with Coke sometimes.

Anyhow, my meal was delicious. To keep up the entertainment factor while I followed about 25% of the Swiss German film club conversation, I focused my attention on the three Japanese businessmen that were also seated at our round table since some of the film club failed to show up. They were clearly uncomfortable suddenly being a part of the Swiss film club, and after pondering a menu for about 15 minutes, ordered and finally moved to another table.

Seated in the place of the three businessmen were two Japanese tourists, who went through the same strange realization that they were to be ceremoniously part of our party. They as well went through a menu decoding process and did a lot of staring (not sure if it was about the food selection or the high prices). After that, they passed the time with picture taking.

Anyhow, after the meal we headed to the cinema. More about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Train Talk

After two years of living without, yes, a car, I am still trying to get comfortable with the set-up of Swiss trains. I grew up in the Chicago area, where the Metra train cars were set up so everyone sat facing forward. To pass the time going by suburbs that all looked the same, you stared at the back of the people’s heads sitting in front of you, studying everything from possible dandruff problems to hair so long it threatened to invade your personal space while sitting behind it.

But on Switzerland’s trains, the seats are placed in groups of four facing each other. This is fine if you’re traveling with four people (as long as two of you can ride backwards without getting sick), but it forces strange relationships otherwise, leaving you with only two options: to challenge the person sitting across from you to a staring contest or to read anything in sight. Needless to say, I usually choose to read anything in sight, which in most cases is Heute, the Swiss version of the National Enquirer that litters train seats (yes, they care about Paris Hilton). Unfortunately, this forces me to comprehend the German language faster than is really recommended but it sure beats losing a staring contest to a practiced Swiss citizen.

Seat choice, even for short rides, is also highly important as it could determine whether you are sick for the following month. So I will go so far as to choose my seat based who is already occupying the four-seated group—a reader, a starer, a parent, an iPod blaster, or a cougher. Not surprisingly, I prefer the readers.

The coughers are the worst possible choice. Which brings me to another benefit of these free newspapers. They double as a shield. People here are not trained in the concept of covering their mouths, preferring instead to spew germs on people stupid enough to not have grabbed a freebie paper before taking their seat. Is there any coincidence that germ is very close to German?

For some reason, German speakers have the most horrible coughs I have ever heard. They are deep and throaty and always include some bonus phlegm which they proudly blow out their noses as loud as possible. I can find no explanation for this outpouring of fluid except for the fact that the language spits even at its healthiest based on the plethora of “sch” sounds that comprise it. Add a few germs to 10 “sch” sounds in a row and there you have it. A German cough.

This is not the case in France, where after much careful observation, I have recorded a much more daintier cough and almost no obnoxious nose blowing. This also is a peculiar finding which I can only attribute to the fact the language itself already includes many nasalities and thus perhaps the cough is more disguised because of this.

In conclusion, yes, it’s true. You really don’t need a car to live in Switzerland. But you do need reading material. Never mind the language it’s written in, the bigger it opens, the better. Next time you’re in Switzerland, try the Frankfurter Allgemeine. It won’t let you down.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Shopping in Germany

On Saturday we took the train from Baden, Switzerland to the border town of Waldshut, Germany to do some grocery shopping. The trip takes about 26 minutes. I’m not really sure how much money one actually saves by shopping across the border, as the exchange rate for the Swiss Franc to the Euro is not that great, but still, it’s entertaining and nice to have some different foods every now and then.

Since we started shopping in Germany about a year and a half ago, two more grocery stores have sprung up right next to the train station in Waldshut, making a total of three grocery stores, one right after the other. Obviously these three large grocery stores are not for Waldshut, a town of 22,000 people. They were built for the Swiss border hoppers. And hop they do.

The parking lot outside the Familia (our grocery store of choice out of the three available) is filled with Swiss license plates and most likely these people are inside buying meat, as one can save about 50% on meat prices by shopping in Germany. Since there’s no chicken in the refrigerated section for some reason (too many Swiss have been there by 2pm), we go to the meat counter to order some, until we realize that our Swissified German is not going to cut it.

As I stood at the counter, all I could think was “poulet”, which is the French and also the Swiss German word for chicken. But I could not for the life of me think of the real German word and there was no signage anywhere to remind me. My husband was not ashamed, and asked whether the meat in front of us was “truten oder poulet” (turkey or chicken) anyhow. The woman answered him easily, obviously used to many Swiss asking the same thing, and did not pull any snobby, “oh, you mean Hähnchen…” that someone in France would have done had the situation been different. (see “Does Anybody Here Speak French” entry below).

The other main items of interest were ice cream (half the price as in Switzerland, ironically for a Swiss-made brand), tortilla chips (again about half the price as in Switzerland), Qtips (a quarter of the price), and soap refills (a quarter of the price).

Needless to say it was a profitable and fun trip as I enjoyed reveling in a grocery store bigger than the size of a walk-in closet for once. If only I had a car and a freezer bigger than a shoebox I would buy much, much more (ice cream, at least). But since I’ve now accepted my status as the “Bag Lady of Baden”, dragging my recyclables and groceries in a bright orange IKEA cart between two countries and cities, at least it’s not quite as big a deal as it used to be.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Excuse me, does anyone here speak French?

I have to say that overall, the French people are much more pleasant in Provence than in Paris. Most of the people I dealt with in Provence were very friendly and put up with my attempts at the French language in addition to my embarrassing German “Dankes” (which have become unfortunately somewhat automatic no matter what language I am attempting to speak).

Case in point was this woman at the McDonald’s in Avignon. I ordered my breakfast in French, and she knew exactly what I wanted, but when it came to options within my order she would simply bring out the three tea choices for me to point to, instead of having to discuss. Same with the jam options. Each time, I was shown the selection and could point. It was really quite pleasant and very kind of her to make this effort.

My traveling buddy and friend, who speaks excellent German, Chinese and English, but alas, no French, had a bit more difficulty with McDonald’s breakfast menu. So this kind French McDonald’s employee went as far as taking down the huge cardboard sign that hung overhead so my friend could point to exactly what she wanted. If this isn’t hospitality, I don’t know what is.

So the last day of our trip, when I am just about to write in my journal about my misconceptions that all French people hate anyone that isn’t them, we go to an ice cream shop in St. Remy de Provence.

As my friend ordered a citron crepe, I studied the ice cream choices. I was so enthralled with the fact that they might have bubble gum ice cream, (as always, key word being “might”) that I failed to notice that my friend was upset.

The ice cream man had given her a cup of citron ice cream. But she wanted a citron crepe. But she couldn’t express this with anything other than a look of frustration and a “no.” I would have helped her, except my French was not exactly top of mind after two years of German study, not to mention the fact that I was too enamored with the thought of bubble gum to fully focus on the complexity of the situation.

As my friend stood hopeless and upset at her cup of lemon ice cream, the ice cream man, who had obviously grown up in Paris, said to the other people waiting to order in as sarcastic as the French language can get,

“Excuse me, does anyone here speak French?”

A man next to me chimed in with a hearty “Oui.”

So the ice cream man proceeded to help the “Oui” man. Finally after a painful few minutes he got back to my friend, dumping her scoop of citron ice cream back into the tub while his wife got me my bubble gum ice cream with a scowl. So finally my friend did get the crepe she wanted but failed to get a fork and knife with which to eat it with.

“How am I supposed to eat this,” said my friend angrily.

Luckily I knew the word for fork so I said I would get her a fork even though at this point eating with her hands would have been a much more recommended option.

So I went inside and finally the French woman scowled at me.

“Avez vous une forchette?” I said.

“Ooh, UNE FOURchette…” she said, correcting my French pronunciation meanly. But she obviously understood me as she produced a fork along with another scowl.

Needles to say, I left the shop as pissed off as my friend. It’s not like I wasn’t trying to speak their language. What is wrong with these people? After all, if it weren’t for our grandparent’s generation, they’d be speaking German.

As I pictured that possibility, I couldn’t help but smiling as I sampled my ice cream. It was bubble gum after all. And that made it slightly easier to possibly consider forgiveness.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Q: What city is this?

A: Avignon, France

Wish I had an explanation. I have no idea what the British phone booth was doing in this park in Avignon.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Nächster Halt, Genf

On Swiss trains, the names of the stops are always announced in German. (German-speakers dominate the country). In German-speaking areas, the German announcement is said first, and if they're feeling generous, sometimes they'll program in the French. But as the train I was on last week got closer to Geneva, the announcement suddenly switched to the French version first, which threw me for a loop because first of all, the female French announcer is much more feminine sounding than the female German announcer. To hear the melodic French statement "Prochain arrêt Genève" followed by a deep scratchy "Nächster Halt Genf" was a little jarring. Somehow, ending on the word, "Genf," just made me cringe.

I've been struggling to learn German for the last two years, and I love learning languages, but somehow, I just can't seem to really love German. It's just not a pleasant way of communicating. Why say, "Genf", when you could say "Genève" or even "Geneva"? "Genf" sounds more like a word for a deformity than the name of a city. But this fact won't stop me from heading back to German class next Tuesday. Because some German words, like Handschuh (hand + shoe = glove) are cute little constructions of various nouns that only a German could put together. But then they have to go give street names things like "Pfingstweidstrasse". And don't even get me started on "Geschirrspülautomaten" (dish soap) or "Rindsgeschnetzeltes" (cut up beef).

So on second thought, maybe "Genf" isn't such a bad word after all. At least I can say it in one syllable. And in German, that's a rare occurrence.

On that note, I'll leave you with a hearty "Auf Wiedersehen". Or as we simple-minded people like to say, "bye".

Friday, May 16, 2008

France, Country of Love

Appropriately, even the dogs French kiss in France. Took this photo on a walk in St. Remy de Provence last Sunday.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dehydration in Europe

One evening on our trip in Provence, I discovered I had a headache along with my dry throat. I knew I was not drinking enough liquids on the trip, especially considering it was hot and we were doing a lot of walking. The general problem is, I have not figured out a good way to travel in Europe on a budget AND stay hydrated at the same time.

Maybe you’ve been to Europe lately and seen the menus. 5,30 EUR for a water in Milan. 5,50 CHF for a water in Zurich. 2,90 EUR for a water in Avignon. And then, when your great thirst from 4 hours of touring tries to relieve itself at an outrageous price, it is given a mere 20 centiliters with which to do so.

This lack of liquid liquidity leads to such preservation techniques as the universal half-sip. This is done while hoping your food will arrive faster than half your water disappears. It’s really quite an accomplishment to manage actually having any liquid left when your meal arrives in Europe. And it’s yet another accomplishment not to pine for the good ole free water and free refills that run rampant throughout the United States as you stare at your overpriced not to mention, gassy water. The combination is enough to make anyone’s stomach turn.

To get the proper liquid (about 180 cl a day) from restaurants in Europe would cost the poor traveler an average of 45 USD a day. No wonder I drink too much beer and wine on this side of the Atlantic. Usually it’s better for my pocketbook. But worse for my poor dehydrated body.

Yes, grocery stores are around. But let’s be honest. A tourist is on their feet all day and can only carry so much liquid with them without breaking their back. One 50 cl water is about all I feel comfortable carrying along with cameras, guidebooks, jackets, etc. And even then, while I may save 5-10 dollars by carrying this water, my shoulders pay the price.

A friend I know actually scours restaurants in Europe, not for the menus, but to see if there are carafes of water on people’s tables first. She doesn’t pick a restaurant based on Michelin Stars, rather on liquid generosity. The few restaurants in Europe that bring free water are few and far between. But they can save you a lot of thirst. And a lot of money.

And thus my project begins:

A list of restaurants in Europe that bring you free water without even having to ask. (Just don’t expect ice too). Here’s a couple to get you started.

Zurich, Switzerland
Universitätstrasse 23
8006 Zürich

Zurich, Switzerland
Hot Pasta
Universitätstrasse 15
8006 Zürich

Avignon, France
Das Camping Bagatelle
25 allée Antoine Pinay -Ile de la Barthelasse
84000 Avignon

Avignon, France
Restaurant NEM (Vietnamese)
7. Cloitre St. Pierre
84000 Avignon

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

From France to Switzerland

I could tell when TGV train I took from Lyon to Geneva yesterday crossed the border between France and Switzerland because while the landscape was exactly the same, the orderliness of it was not. Both countries share fields of brightly colored mustard plants and wildflowers in May, but in Switzerland they are trimmed to precision in neat rectangles and squares, while in France they grow in bunches in unsymmetrical fields. This says a lot about both cultures overall and it’s amazing two countries sharing a border can be so different.

While most of Switzerland’s 41,000 sq kilometers are a mix of countryside cared for with golf course precision, France’s countryside resembles more of a child who prefers not to color within the lines. Both landscapes are equally beautiful in their own way, and couldn’t describe the country’s culture any better.

Another way to describe a country in a nutshell is to look at its pigeons. Every country has its fair share. But not all of them share the same, how shall we say it, girth. You can tell a lot about a country by how big (and accordingly how fast-moving) its pigeons are. For instance, in Avignon, the pigeons look like turkeys being overfed in time for Thanksgiving. But in Zurich, the pigeons have a more waif-like, starving model appearance. This says a lot about both countries’ versions of cleanliness and waste management. And I have to say, I’ll take the analness of Switzerland’s leafless sidewalks over the many piles of dog poop and who knows what else that litters the sidewalks in Provence (and Paris).

Anyhow, aside from the lack of waste control, France has a lot going for it. More on Provence to come once I get my photos downloaded.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I'm heading to France tomorrow for a long weekend with a friend from elementary school, so before all things French take over in my brain, I wanted to blog about London once more since I haven't done much on the topic since our trip at the end of April.

Every time I go to London and stand at a street corner, my brain goes into overdrive. I try to focus on the wrong sided roads as to not kill myself unnecessarily, but it takes so much concentration that at the last minute I’ll fling myself into the street and hope for the best as a double decker bus barrels towards me.

Unlike in Paris, the streets in London are clearly labeled for pedestrians. No matter, because even if I see LOOK RIGHT, painted in bold white letters on the road in front of me, I’ll still instinctively look left anyway. This street writing even comes complete with an arrow pointing the direction the pedestrian should look, probably taking pity on the many French visitors from across the channel who refuse to learn any language but their own.

Not that the Brits can really talk when it comes to learning another language, but at least they’re trying not to kill their tourists like the drivers in Paris are. Parisians drive for no other reason and design 13-street intersections with no signage or sidewalks whatsoever in order to turn the tourist into road kill as fast as possible. Probably not the best thing to have in my head as I pack for France.

Monday, May 05, 2008

100th Post

Today I am posting my 100th post on blogger. Not bad I guess. I've enjoyed keeping a blog thus far, it keeps the pressure on me to keep writing, although with today's changing publishing rules I can't post a lot of the work that I'm trying to sell lest they find out it's already been "published".

We participated in our second Slow Up ( event since we've been in Switzerland. The first one we ran into last year purely by accident and enjoyed it so much that we've got this season's calendar printed out. The Slow Up event on May 4th was in Eastern Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which gave us a good excuse to finally go to the elusive Liechtenstein as there is never a really good reason to go there except to say you went and have a stamp or two to prove it.

Slow Up is a program that shuts off around 50k of roads in a different area of Switzerland every 2-3 weeks throughout the summer in order for bikers and rollerbladers to enjoy them. The funny thing about this concept is that Switzerland already has a network of bike and roller blading paths that span over 3300 km across the little country, mostly well away from traffic, so it’s not like the poor Swiss bikers have nowhere to go.

This path went from Buchs to Vaduz and eventually back to Buchs after passing through lots of small villages. It was strangely exciting to cross a covered wooden bridge and end up in another country, as I can’t say I’ve ever crossed a border on a bike before. We even brought our passports, as we didn’t want our one excuse to see Liechtenstein to be canceled due to border bureaucracy, but there was no kind of border check to be found making Liechtenstein seem more like Switzerland's 27th canton (or state) than anything else.

I found myself wanting to take photos of everything, the fields were filled with little yellow flowers everywhere and it was just a gorgeous day. Anyhow, I've posted a few photos above to give the idea.

The whole 52k took us about 5 hours, breaks and lunch included. It was a great way to spend a day, despite a very delayed Swiss train on the way home (30 minutes, can you imagine the horror!?).

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Doctor Visit II

Going to a doctor for the second time in Zurich was a much smoother experience for one simple reason--this doctor spoke English.

The allergy tests I had to take, however, were not quite as smooth because the non-English-speaking assistant did them. She told me where to sit in Swiss German so I of course sat in the wrong of the two chairs. Then she said something about my arm. I was really trying, but at this point needed to stop her.

“Ich verstehe nicht,” I said.

Then she asked me what language I spoke.

When I said English, she just shrugged and said no.

“Hochdeutsch ist ok,” I said. Anything is better than Swiss German.

I put out my arm.

“Nein, beide,” she said.

I put out both arms. Then she said something else that sounded to me like “Ok, now I’m going to give you a really big painful shot and I can’t wait,”

But instead she started drawing on my arms with a blue pen.

She drew a plus and minus and then 14 lines on each forearm. Great. The one part of my arm that didn’t have a skin problem was now covered in blue ink.

Then each ink line was decorated with a different droplet from 28 different bottles. She said something else like, “I’m going to make you into a freak,”

Then she ripped open a package of white stubs that were actually masquerading as little needles and started pricking each little dot.

“It’s ok for you?” she said happily after her 10th stabbing as she ripped open another package of little pinchers.

“Ok?! I’ve never been happier,” I thought. “Why don’t you bring in a beer and let’s celebrate?” But instead I just said, “Ja.”

There’s a reason they say Germans get pleasure out of other people’s pain.


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