I spent the last week with my lovely parents. They had meetings in North-Westphalia so I rode along with them to Dortmund, Bielefeld, Paderborn and Dusseldorf after we spent the weekend in Heidelberg together. The day they arrived, I made them hike up to Philosopher’s Way (I’m so bossy), though they were exhausted. The thing was, it was sunny and I knew that it may have been the only chance we would get to hike the path. Sure enough, the next day was rainy and windy. I’m so thankful that they had the opportunity to see where I live and that I had the opportunity to share it with them. And, much like our sunny hike, I’m glad they seized the opportunity to make the trip. Vielen Dank!
Last weekend marked the end of Native American Week at the DAI. This was a project on which I had been working closely with my colleague, Debra, and fellow intern, Jenny, for about two months. The goal of the week was to provide a platform for education and understanding of modern Native American culture. On Monday we had a group of musicians do a Native American flute demonstration. Tuesday was host to a film viewing and discussion panel during which we skyped in Louie Bluecoat, Native American, pastor, and cultural educator from North Dakota, and the rest of the week involved programs for high school kids and families. Tuesday’s discussion panel turned into a crash course on the extremely serious issues presently taking place in the Dakotas stemming from the current oil boom and how the Native people of the region are being affected. Both Natives and non-Natives are being forced off of their land, and the safety of Native women is of serious concern as oil workers have caused crime rates to skyrocket, most notably in cases of rape. Of additional concern are the terrible environmental implications of the oil boom. The people, mostly Germans, who stuck around for this part of the conversation were deeply interested and concerned by what Louie had to say. It’s easy to forget about issues that are geographically distant, but this event was a powerful reminder that we are all connected and that environmental issues such as those in the Dakotas belong to the world.
It’s Sunday and I’m wandering the tiny streets of a nearby village, Hirschhorn, with my friend Jenny. I stop to take this photo because I am struck by the worn yet hidden path. Fast forward to today. About mid-morning I decide to go running. I burst out the front door into rain, consider going back inside, and decide to just go anyway. As I start running, it starts to rain harder and harder. As my hood refuses to stay up and the fat raindrops start coming at my face from a 45 degree angle, I contemplate turning back. Instead I choose to take the familiar, always dependable path. People standing under bus stop shelters shoot me judgmental looks but I keep running anyway. I cross the bridge and see another runner coming towards me from a distance. As we near each other, we make eye contact through the thick haze and something awesome happens…he holds his hand up for a high-five. I high-five him and keep running, determined to finish the route, now graced with a burst of energy not previously there. This was probably one of the most serendipitous moments of my year thus far. No words, poor visibility, just a simple , fluid high-five from a stranger. In that millisecond, my stranger-friend’s high-five gifted me with a non-verbal message: “I see you. I’m with you. You can do this. ” From now on I think I will hire people to stand along my running route so that I can periodically get and give high-fives when I’m considering calling it quits. What do you think?
If you have read even a small fraction of the heidelblog, you know I love food. And I would be amiss if I didn’t share this beautiful food with you. This is spätzle and goulash, a classic German dish (though the goulash comes from Eastern Europe). My friend Jenny’s dad made this for Jenny and I this past weekend and, while I realize the photo is far from appetizing, I assure you it was AH-MAZING. I’ve had spätzle a few times in restaurants here, but there is no comparison to home-made spätzle. It’s a combination of flour, eggs, and some other German ingredient I don’t know how to translate or pronounce. After the dough is mixed, it is squeezed through this handle-grip-device, much like the play-dough device you used as a kid to squeeze out shapes. The freshly-formed noodles are then boiled for about 1.5 minutes and put in the oven to stay warm. The whole ordeal is a LONG PROCESS and the result is a treasure. If you find yourself in Germany, order spätzle at a restaurant (Kaser Spätzle is like a mac ‘n cheese on steroids), or just find Jenny’s dad and pay him to make you some.
On Sunday I had brunch with some lovely German friends and we had an hour-long discussion about how much safer Germany is than the U.S., in terms of average civilian safety. An hour after the conversation I was walking through the train station when a guy almost knocked me over as he sprinted past me. “Wow! Someone’s in a hurry!” I thought, puzzled since he was running in the opposite direction of the train platforms. Half a second later two policemen sprinted past me and flat out tackled the guy ten feet in front of me…quarterback style. Just…BAM! Took him down. They proceeded to handcuff him and sit on him as he screamed in German “My legs! You broke my legs!” A small crowd gathered and watched the spectacle. The thing is– such events are extremely rare in Germany, which makes the situation all the more ironic. As I was standing at my platform minutes later, the seemingly permanent grey wool blanket of clouds parted and revealed a stunning blue sky. Later that day, I was visiting my friend Jenny in her parents’ village, Hirschhorn, and we took a hike up to the castle through sideways sheets of hail. Once we got to the top of the castle, the sun exploded through the clouds, revealing a quaint village below. Lately I have been really caught off guard by some remarkable, unexpected things. I think that, as humans, we have a tendency to panic and emphasize flash floods instead of celebrating flash suns. I’m finding that with risks, immersion, vulnerability, more risks, hard work, and friends, flash suns are far more frequent than flash floods. And you know what? It feels good.
This is Emma’s, (one of) my favorite hang-out spots. Aside from being conveniently close to my house, and potentially the only shop in Germany that is open 24/7, it has wonderful coffee and tea, a hip, warm atmosphere, and lovely pillows I recognize from my adventures in Ikea. I should also mention the lighting– the lighting is so perfect that I find it hard to study here because all I want to do is revel in its ambience and people watch. Though a little pricey, Emma’s is still cheaper than your average Starbucks and I’m all about keepin’ it local. Now that my semester is (officially) over (SCORE!), I will be visiting Emma’s in the near future for a chill afternoon and some chai latte tea.
Meet Liz(zy). She’s a vegetarian most of the time, knows every good song that was ever created, hails from Boston, thinks outside the box, and introduced me to an amazing Japanese paint marker that has since changed my life. Her excellent taste in scarves and falafel automatically, by American standards, make her extremely hipster. She dances to the rhythm of her own drum, is not afraid to swim against the current, and has the voice of a folk singer whose album I would actually buy, create a new Pandora station from, and then urge everyone I know to do the same. She loves mindful living, healthy, organic cooking, and creative thinking. Did I mention she’s emotionally intelligent? We jam, hike, laugh, explore, philosophize, scheme, and have TED talk marathons together. It’s easy to take the Lizzys in your life for granted. But I assure you, friendships such as these are rare and shining gems. So go ahead, thank your liz for being great. And I’ll do the same for mine.