March 15, 2009

Ralf on the road

It’s Ralf’s turn to go back to Cali for a week and I am alone in a cold land where I speak like a precocious twelve year old who unexpectedly wants to debate economic policy with the grown-ups.

I did have a small cultural breakthrough today while driving Ralf to the airport, however. I was lamenting about the blank expressions I always get from Germans whenever I launch into a detailed anecdote or explanation. I worry it means I’m boring.

Me: ‘I know my German’s pretty good so it’s not like people have no idea what I’m talking about but I always feel like Germans don’t understand why I’m telling them whatever I’m telling them. They just stare at me.’

Ralf: ‘Your German’s fine. You’re just used to all that nodding and babbling the Americans do instead of paying attention. Whereas the Germans actually listen to what you’re saying.’

I never thought of it that way. I mean, I’ve experienced something similar in a professional context, having worked for German bosses. But socially I figured I was just boring, like steamed broccoli over brown rice.

Heck, I wish he’d mentioned this eight years ago. I’ve probably been the life of the party all this time without realizing it.

But anyway, although I miss him and have a rough week in front of me as a single working parent I find it far less stressful when I’m not the one traveling. More about my travel Angst here.

The house feels big and lonely but it’s not all bad:
The toilet seat stays down.
I don’t have to cook.
I can watch Buffy reruns.
I can wear my blue underwear with the little elephants on them.
(For some reason, that’s not Ralf’s favorite pair.)

Just as it was my job to provision the house for a 2 week famine slash toilet paper strike before I went back to California, Ralf also has several jobs before he can leave:
Give the girls a bath.
(They might not get another one until he gets back.)
Make sure the car has gas and windshield wiper fluid.
Change the litter.

When I was gone the local moms rallied around the single dad – Germany is a patriarchal society, which means the women think the men are totally useless and coddle them. In fact, the legendary sternness of German women is typically only for other women. So I expect no such help, although I do have a girlfriend or two for emergencies.

Actually it's not that bad, it's just that if someone is at all stern to begin with speaking German will push it to the next level.

For some reason this thought makes me tired. Or maybe I'm tired because it's 10 PM and I had a long day. Anyway, I'm off to bed, if K and L (who get to sleep in our bed when Ralf is gone) have left me any room.

One last thing: Check out Strange Shores - Ladyfi has just posted her regular blog carnival for expat blogs featuring ‘the very funny Honeypiehorse’ (that’s me) and a deeply disturbing picture of a three-headed horse.

Good night.


  1. What's wrong with elephant underwear?

  2. So, I know you just posted about your language skills, but what about your husband's? I assume he speaks fluent English?

  3. Good night HPH, call if you need anything. Sounds like we'll probably get there faster than any of your neighborhood frau's.

  4. Brave in Bavaria, that's you. And I am so impressed you can speak German. Wow.

  5. I loved your post. The timing was impeccable - Ernesto went to Germany for 10 days and I actually liked the time alone (against all of my expectations). Thanks for your blog, too. It actually keeps me (almost) sane through this stressing moving process.

  6. Hope you manage to enjoy your time as a single parent. My husband is away quite often and it is a strain being by oneself...

    The blog carnival takes place every other week - i.e. about twice a month, so it's not annual but more of a regular carnival...


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