When a friend back home emailed me a workout at my request, she suggested I find myself a 10-pound weight. I had given her the parameters: I want to stay in shape while we’re in Berlin by doing indoor workouts that won’t disturb our ornery neighbor downstairs. I have no equipment at my disposal. Could she help? Her reply was a screenshot of a workout she’d led with fellow rowers back in the Twin Cities, and it included “TGUs,” which she suggested I look up online. I learned that TGUs are Turkish Get-Ups, in which you lie down and then get up off the floor while holding a weight over your head.
I looked around our sparse apartment for a 10-pound weight. Certainly nothing we’d packed in our suitcases would come close to that, as the heaviest things we’d brought for our year’s stay were our winter boots. I turned to our landlord’s shelves, half-populated with a random assortment of history books from his university days. One book stood out: a hardbound Reader’s Digest Auto Atlas for Deutschland and Europa. I lifted it and saw that it would stay closed if I held it by its spine. Sure enough, it would become my new workout companion. Continue reading →
Those of you paying close attention may have noticed a small logo that now appears on the right side of “Lost in Berlin” from the “Expat Focus” website. The good people over there decided to add my blog to their compilation of Expat Blogs from around the world.
I guess it’s fair to say that I hadn’t thought of myself as being an expat until I started reading other people’s blogs and experiences and realized that I’m writing about similar things. The only difference may be that I know I’ll be going back home after a year, while many people have pulled up stakes and moved their whole lives to a new country indefinitely.
The Expat folks asked if I would do an interview with them that they can post on their website. I just sent it off and thought I’d post it here as well. It is now available on this website. Continue reading →
We returned from our fall break in Paris; like every family we know here in Berlin, we took advantage of the time off and traveled to a neighboring European city (easy to do when most are closer than Chicago is to the Twin Cities). Some went to Amsterdam, some to Nice, others to Istanbul. We did what we were supposed to do.
I’ve been feeling a bit remiss about how I’ve hardly written about S. I think it’s because she’s on the brink of adulthood and has a right to her privacy that I’ve been reluctant to say much about her. Returning home from an outing last night it became clear that she is the one family member who actually reads these posts. In a most good-natured way, prancing along on the sidewalk, she made gentle fun of how I’m always going on about how well adjusted C is, and how sweet little E is, but never have a comment about poor invisible S. And she’s right, and I knew it. So, a story about S.
Many friends worried, before this sabbatical, that she would be the one most opposed to making the trip—to missing 10th grade at home with her friends. But prior to the trip she was the most excited of our kids. No regrets about leaving, only excitement about going.
Before we arrived, we’d received word that the American school we’d heard so much about would be able to take our younger daughters, but had no place for our 10th grader. When people asked if we had school placements for our kids, I’d say, “Oh yes, for two out of three of them!” And this majority-rules thinking kept me going until we got here and I realized we really don’t know where she is going to go to school, and this could be a problem.
E has been home sick from school for three days now. Her fever is in the high 30s, numbers I always have to type into a Celsius-Fahrenheit converter to appreciate. Our liquid and chewable Tylenol are packed away somewhere in St. Paul, and there’s probably Children’s Tylenol to be had here but I’m not sure where and I don’t want to leave her alone. So the two of us are largely holed up here, waiting out the fever, E eating her yogurt with a mashed-up Advil mixed in and playing with the few toys I picked up yesterday (but forgot to look for Tylenol) – a puzzle and Dominoes and a matching game.
I have the distinct impression we’re just playing house. Our “flat,” as people insist on calling it here, is spacious and fully furnished with another family’s things. Though the ceilings are high and the room proportions generous, everything in the place is smaller than at home. The teaspoons are tiny but seem to suit the dainty coffee cups. The refrigerator is underneath the counter, more like a dorm fridge, and anything tall, like a bottle, has to lay flat. Even when it’s full it feels empty. A glass here fills up as soon as you begin to pour juice from the small boxes they sell. The lone ice cube tray, half the size of a tray back home, has 15 slots to make 15 tiny cubes.