Germany Day 5.1

Well, Mom’s out of the tournament. Right now she is off somewhere beating herself up, which makes me sad. I am not sad that she lost. I am sad that she does not seem to realize how badass she is.

Everyone I spoke to about Mom says she is a better fencer than she gives herself credit for. I don’t know a thing about saber fencing. But I could see how she was getting in her own way sometimes. It’s what I do. Even in rounds she won, she would be disappointed for not doing better.

It’s imposter syndrome. When something goes wrong, you replay your mistakes over and over again in your head. When something goes right, you attribute it to luck. You credit all the bad things to yourself and all the good things to something else.

Mom has a great coach and is a strong fencer. She just needs to give herself more credit. It will help her relax. That is what I heard her coach explaining. She gets frenetic and makes mistakes. The more badass she realizes she is, the more badass she will be, which is kind of a scary thought, actually. I am not sure the universe could handle all that badassery.

Germany Day 5.0

(Written 10/14/2016) My plan today was/is to take it a little bit easier. The Team USA dinner was last night, and I am feeling it.

It was great to see my mom “in her element,” so to speak. People knew her. She knew people. They talked about fencing and other things. I ate some kind of fish called “Dorscht,” which tasted fresh, and chicken, which tasted like fish. I also had some very good scwarzbier and some less good weissbier. One had notes of coffee and chocolate. The other had notes of cough syrup and licorice. Continue reading “Germany Day 5.0”

Germany Day 3.0

One of the things I am most enjoying about this trip so far is the opportunity to get to know my mom a bit more.

When I was growing up, she was my mom. Now I am old enough and have enough distance to appreciate her more as a person. This is how I am finding our relationship has changed—evolved—over the years.

Last night we stayed up well past my bedtime. I was drinking a beer. She was drinking a Diet Coke. And we talked about religion and politics, two subjects one should never bring up in polite company, but which have always been topics of fascination for both of us.

There are also nice moments when I say to myself, “Oh! So that’s why I am the way that I am.” Like this morning, her coach said we should grab breakfast around 7 and leave at 7:45 or 8. She woke up at about 5:30, and we were both packed and ready to go by 6:15. We decided to go and have breakfast then. I drank coffee and ate a pear. She sipped tea and munched on cucumber and tomato slices (German breakfasts are different). And we talked some more about—you guessed it—religion and politics.

We did the tourist thing yesterday, rode a bus and listened to a narrator tell us about the Berlin Wall and the official drink of Berlin (a light beer with a shot of some kind of syrup, which apparently now only tourists drink). After that, coach Val and his wife Irena stayed and out did whatever they do (partied or something, I guess). My mom and I went back to the hotel. I FaceTimed my kids and then took a nap. She knitted. After that, we both went to the grocery store to see about buying a special kind of chocolate for my sister (no luck yet, Joan), some treats for my kids and Stephanie (it’s her birthday), and something light to eat. We went to three different stores. We finally split a veggie sandwich on a baguette.

Not to be a buzzkill, but I was thinking earlier that my mom is not going to be around forever. We went back and forth a bit about whether or not I was going to come on this trip, as she tried to figure out whether I really wanted to go, and I tried to figure out whether she really wanted to take me. I am glad she did. Germany is fun. I am glad to have stayed a couple nights in Berlin. What I am most glad about is the chance to spend some time with her, to get to now her a bit better, and, like I said, to get to understand myself. She is a big reason I am the way that I am, and for that I am grateful.

Germany Day 2.0

I am sitting in the lobby of the Days In on Kögelstraße in Berlin, listening to some pretty awesome pop the desk attendant is playing, and drinking a Red Bull, because in Germany they are sane about the hours they ask people to work. The convenience store opens at 7. By American standards, that’s not very convenient. But people here seem to know when to stop working.

So far I love this trip. Getting here was not “half the fun.” It was pretty disorienting. This is my first time in Europe, and my body is not used to flying so far against the sun, so to speak. I consider the fact that I woke up at 3:30am, my usual time, to mean I have successfully overcome jet lag.

There are lots of little things I could post pictures of. I successfully used my German four times. Everyone here speaks English. Some guys from Vietnam were checking in yesterday afternoon, talking to the person behind the desk in English. There was one maintenance guy at the airport and a security guard in a Bank who either did not speak English or could not figure out within two seconds that we were Americans. Mom’s coach, Val, was trying to buy Euros. The security guard invited us to stop hanging around by the door and step into line, and since I could not, in that moment, puzzle together something like, “We are waiting on our friends,” I just replied, “Wir bin gut.” But now that I think about it, the Urban Dictionary connotation of that statement might have given the wrong impression.

Back to why I was talking about German in the first place, I do not want to be the kind of American who assumes that everyone else should speak English (dammit!). I figure it is polite to make an effort “auf Deutsch.” Once the other person figures out I am an American, they switch to English. It is easier for them, and they do not have to listen to me butcher their mother tongue.

I can read German better than I can speak it. My mom asks me what certain signs say, and I have so far been able to tell her. Google Translate helps me with some vocab I cannot remember and basic phrases I have not used since high school.
Me: Wie ist der Berlinerkindl (How is the Berlinerkindl [beer]).
Man Behind the Counter: Er…it costs 1.60€. [I have no recollection of what his actual German words were.]
Me: Um…ist es gut Bier? (Is it a good beer?)
Man Behind the Counter: Ah! Yes. It is a good beer!

And he was right. It was a pretty good beer, a lot better than what I could get in Nashville for about $2.50. That is one thing I have noticed about Berlin so far. Beer is cheaper. So is chocolate. Beer, chocolate, and not working 24/7. These people have their priorities straight.

In Europe you must run to every exit.

This store sells pajamas and coffee, because…