It’s beginning to feel like home here. I now know how to use the washing machine and can remember to press the button to stop the water after flushing the toilet.
Last weekend Frank and I spent a few hours rearranging some things in our flat. Much of the work involved hauling furniture and other stuff we don’t need down to the basement. We could have the garage sale of the century. Frank and I have made a pact not to buy anything for the flat unless we’re sure the item we want isn’t already somewhere in the house. The other day we went to IKEA (in Germany it also is the ultimate gay couple outing) to purchase a carpet. The next day Frank found a really nice rug rolled up in a corner downstairs. It looks like we’re headed to IKEA again to return the new one. We did the same thing at another store with some dining room chairs.
I’ve been spending most days bicycling around Munich getting lost. Yesterday I rode my bike to meet Frank downtown at a government office, where I received a 3-year visa. After 3 years — if I don’t commit any felonies — I can stay forever. It seemed like alot of running around to different offices and filling out various forms, but Frank says it went smoothly. Since I couldn’t understand most of the dialogue between Frank and the office workers, I’ll assume it did go smooth.
Next Monday I begin language lessons, which will be five days a week, five hours a day for 2 weeks. If I like the school, I’ll continue there. If not, I’ll switch to another school. You’ll get a kick out of this: When I went to pay for the classes, I practiced my German outside and then proudly walked into the office and said, “Guten tag, mein name ist Keith Warnack. Ich möchte register für English lessons.” The woman looked at me and said “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather take German lessons?”
While not working, I’m trying to get up at the same time Frank does so I don’t become a total slug. However, it’s rare I shower before noon. I think the neighbors are wondering who the strange man in the bright red bathrobe is.
How are you celebrating Thanksgiving? Pilgrims aren’t popular in Germany, but on Thursday we are going to the home of Thomas and Susan (our Hawaii companions) for “an American dinner.” Susan is going to make chili con carne. I was going to bring a pumpkin pie, but the combination sounds disgusting. I think I’ll bring flowers.
This will be the first Thanksgiving I’ve had without a turkey and all the trimmings. That’s fine with me, I’m working on dropping a couple kilograms anyway. When I first weighed myself on Frank’s bathroom scale, he told me that 1 kilo = 2 pounds. That would have been good news. I looked it up and 1 kilo = 2.26 pounds. Even if the label is Versace, leather pants don’t look good with a gut.
Today I was planning to bicycle to Dachau, but it’s raining. I’d rather visit a concentration camp on a sunny day. Instead, I think I’ll walk to the Schloss Nymphenburg (the castle around the corner) and take a tour. I love the architecture here. Monday I went on a self-guided walking tour of an area called Schwabing. The main boulevard of Schwabing, Leopoldstrasse, looks like the Munich equivalent of the Champs Elysees. The sidestreets were lined with homes built in the Art Nouveau style. I also walked through a number of graveyards that had some interesting monuments. One mausoleum contained a lifesize marble statue of an elephant.
In addition touring around, I’ve been going to the public pool/sauna. I keep thinking how much fun it would be to take out-of-town visitors there, but then I imagine how awkward I’d feel sitting around naked with friends and family. Maybe just the pool — where people keep their pants on — would be enough. Germans are such a contradiction when it comes to health. After a cardio workout of swimming, going in the sauna and then jumping in cold water, you can sit poolside and have a beer and a cigarette.
Well, I think Frau Neuhaus is finished cleaning/damaging our flat, so I can go back upstairs and get ready to head out. Frank told her Friday will be her last day. She’s a lousy housekeeper and possibly a thief, but I’ll miss her. She’s actually glad to quit working here. By the time she makes it to the 3rd floor she’s breaking out in a sweat. I offered her coffee this morning and all she said was “Nein! Nein!” while patting her chest where her heart is.
I guess that’s all for now. I miss you and I look forward to hearing from you.