Senior Blues

I’ve got a holiday on Tuesday and a break from all my senior morning classes this week too. Hooray! I’ve vowed never to work a job 6 days a week again. I hated it in London and though I never intended to coming to Germany, I still got stuck in it again. My long holidays altogether don’t really make up for it either, the way they used to when I was a child, they’re usually dominated by some project or another that I never manage while working.

At any rate I have a month-long break from my senior classes so that I can take an intensive German course. My seniors are a bit irked, but it’s really the only benefit I get anymore from having extra self-employed classes. They have no idea how constant my other job is; I think I can safely generalize that they all believe I have weekends off. Well we’re not there to discuss me and they don’t listen that well to me in general, so I guess I don’t feel compelled to explain matters further. If my weekends don’t concern them, than neither do my scheduling reasons.

I like my seniors, but sometimes I feel like they are just as selfish and egoistic as my own peers in their 20s and this is strange and somehow uncomfortable for me. I’m much more at ease around Greek oldies who accept their age and have a sense of purpose and contentment with their families. I’ve already decided if I make to my 60s A) I certainly won’t be wasting that time complaining, even if everything hurts, and B) if I’m more alone than I want to be, I’ll spend my time in prayer and volunteering or move somewhere where I can help: to give back but also because everyone needs people to look after and a way to feel needed.

I like that they are still people, with a sense of pride in their appearance, but honestly I resent that they want me to essentially lie or ignore the fact that they are old and will die. My group of beginners wanted to call themselves middle-aged. I tried to say hmm, I guess they are no rules, but generally people would say between 40-60 years old. Once you retire you aren’t middle-aged.

What is going on here!? I mean really!! I do work for the senior center after all.

They want me to feel sorry for them, but I don’t, any more than I do for all of humanity chained to death. This is everyone’s fate. It’s shocking how many people have such inflated egos they hope to be the exception.

Oh I’m being harsh I know, but it’s weird when you gradually realize you’re sitting in front of a group of people lying to themselves very well, and you are expected to join in, or at least not crush the facade they’ve been carefully sculpting. That for me is akin to lying anyway. I don’t want to crush their delicate egos or push it in their faces, but it’s ridiculous how I have to tiptoe around it, cause they’re all hypersensitive. I’ve made them mad, by saying, oh when I was a child, and I meant it and it was a fact and a valid story, but apparently I was calling them old. SIGH.

Relatively speaking I won’t die so long after them anyway. What’s decades compared to centuries? Perhaps all our excessive antibiotics use will make a perfect situation for the next worldwide epidemic, perhaps we in my generation will come to envy their illness free life. Excuse me for looking at the big picture, but I am a student of history. It’s not exactly a steady march of progress, you have great thinkers who bring about change, followed by depraved characters who drag countries back into the mud. Not everything new is better and not everything old should be discarded.

It’d be better I suppose if these older Germans had decided to have more than one child. Most of them are lucky if their children live within a short drive of them and are even luckier if they have one grandchild to distract them. And what’s even more ridiculous is that those without grandkids are visibly jealous of those with. Even when they try to disguise it with scorn. Ach Germany what are you doing to yourself? You’ve got lots of healthy old people with nothing to occupy their time except delaying the inevitable.

It’s such an uncomfortable situation for me. I try to be understanding and listen and have a large deaf ear to their irrational demands and complaints.  There’s no chance I will ever forget them and we’ve shared a lot of interesting moments. I try to make them laugh or smile once a week, if nothing else. However, I welcome every break I get, cause deep down they are truly lonely, depressed, and discontent and it weighs down very heavily on me. I want to solve their problems, but I am busy carving out a life for myself in a foreign land and when class is over, I have places to be.

As I tell the bf at least once a month, promise me we let each other waste our lives complaining and become unbearable to those around us.

What a difference my little Greek children are. They even have the audacity to believe that there might be hope for them in Greece eventually!

Such a weird contrast.

Anyway I want to talk about the cute things my kids have done recently, but it’ll have to wait til later this week.

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The reformed little troublemaker.

I’m making good progress on my goals so far this fall. I’m all checked-up and immunized, seeing the eye doctor, got enrolled for my German course, checked out the Greek course, (but decided the pain of poorly accented Greek in a very far away location was not worth it to me just now). The flat is clean, if not exactly tidy, got guests penciled in the calender, my senior courses are progressing nicely with fleshed-out goals and materials and my schedule with the Greek school is to my liking. I’m enrolled in a water gymnastic course for January, made an appointment today with a much cheaper than anticipated accountant and will even be able to receive a German driver’s licence, that will never expire. The bf got hired on in the company he’s been applying to for ages, even if it’s temporary, it’s still a good chance.

So yes, things are good. Better than I deserve. Still lots of room for improvement, but I’m getting things done. Still gotta make decisions and plans for the master’s program this fall, but I think it’ll be in Baden-Württemberg for sure. I am so over Bayern. But no pressure September was busy getting things set-up for this school year. In the winter I’ll make plans for next year.

You know the one thing that’s missing from my life, at least in terms of what has always been in my life, is a busy social life. And I’m surprised a bit. I always took it upon myself to be the organizer, or at least the most enthusiastic participant. I had an over-developed curious, flirty, teasing personality, which served me well as a bartender and waitress. I loved big groups and lots of activity and staying out all night. I always scoffed at the girls that were glued to their boyfriends as being unimaginative and insecure. I don’t think I envied them for a second.

I’m hesitant to say that that has come back to bite me in recent years. A lot of people have given me a lot of grief for finally finding someone I’m crazy about. It would seem from what I’ve learned since coming back to where I had my fantastic year abroad, that my actions were not always interpreted to my satisfaction.  I was 20, I went from not really ever being sure that someone was really into me, (went through the most trying part of my high school without any close girlfriends to guide me) to suddenly being irresistible just because of the ridiculous accent I was desperate to be rid of.

Of course it was great! Why would I have jumped into a relationship and missed out on all that fun? I unconsciously played whatever role they wanted in teasing and laughing, just to be liked, because it was so much fun to feel attractive. I was too naive to realize what I was doing, but I didn’t make any promises to guys I felt were too enamored.

And later I guess people at the time thought I was too full of myself, and that I didn’t think any boy was good enough for me. Far from it really. I just didn’t find any one boy interesting enough to make me want to stop the banter between all these fantastic new accents. Everything was mind-blowingly different to everything I’d ever known. Even though it was super-hard adjusting at times I think that was probably the most well-lived, carpe diem year of my life, from living on my own, to languages, to new cultures and of course food and drink.

Maybe I was trying to re-live that in London. It didn’t work that way of course. And now, as I said, I’m not bothered to go out running around with strangers. What shocks me the most though, is the fact that I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me one little bit!

I work, I hang out with the bf, I cook, I clean, I read, I travel, and I work on my languages. If I’m really lucky, I squeeze in a workout. I call and write me friends and family. I keep meaning to go to this English speaking Stammtisch to make some English speaking friends here, but I’m afraid I’ll just find a rehash of the expat experience with every newcomer.

I have no interest in casually going out, or wasting anymore time on people who will lose touch with me at the first opportunity. I’ve been thinking back on my life recently and have realized that I have spent so much of the precious time I have been given in my life, trying to make people happy that in all likelihood, I will neither see again, nor exchange any communication whatsoever. I have wasted hours thinking of other people, hosting other people, writing other people, going out with other people, only to realize we might not have ever really been friends. I have thought so often, that I had really good friends, only to find out after I move that they just aren’t bothered with invitations and letters like I am. And not 10 years later either, but almost immediately after.

I had a chat with my good friend recently. She was really upset about how things had changed after uni and I said yeah, I hate it too, but I try not to take it personally. I don’t think it’s personal. But I’m glad I got rid of my oversized-facebook. Some people you were meant to fall out of touch with.

It doesn’t stop me from regretting all that wasted time though. If I had applied myself to my grades as passionately as I applied myself to friendships, I would be better off, and certainly speaking much better German and Greek.

I feel like now I just want to invest in myself. I don’t trust people as much as I used to. I’ve been caught off guard by girls who had hidden their jealousy and I wrote it off as me being mistaken, only to really get the rug pulled out from under me later. One Greek girl (nearly 30) told her mother enough lies that she found me a square full of football fans and starting shrieking at me in public as my bf and his friend defended me and asked why her daughter didn’t do this herself if she felt this way.

My bf isn’t the most perfect guy in the world, and I definitely don’t want to turn into the couples I see everywhere in Germany that need to get each other’s permission to go out with their friends, that are so wrapped up in each other, that they lose their separate personalities.

(Tangent about über German coupledom: I had one German student a few years ago who I thought was really cool until she mentioned that she’d never have children cause she couldn’t imagine sharing her husband with anyone. I was like wow, what fairytale drug have you been smoking? Nobody is that perfect that you can’t share him with someone else. And you’ve got a really twisted idea of love if you think it will be diminished by a child, but hey I guess at least she understands her own jealous weakness and doesn’t subject a child to it.)

I’ve come to a realization though that my bf is more than enough to make me happy. I like his company just as well as going out with a big group. It’s the same to me now, with less effort with my continuous working hours. Also I realize that a clean apartment will make me happier during the week than going out on the weekend. I have good friends, they just don’t live nearby. In fact I devote all my holidays during the year to meeting up with them wherever they may be. And were they here, I would meet up gladly and often.

Chalk it up to feeling tired and old and disillusioned. I’m tired of repeating this losing touch scenario. I’d rather just spend more time on the people that know how to be there for me. At least in my life I have 100 some kids who cherish, or at least amused by and benefit from the attention I can spare them and also 60 odd seniors who could do with another granddaughter-like figure to shower affection on. These, my family, my bf, and my close friends are more than enough right now for this reformed little expat heartbreaker.

What a good Greek girlfriend does

I made dinner tonight for the bf and his dad. His mom has been told by the doctor to have a cure at a thermal spring. So she’s gone for three weeks. Poor guys hanging out, not exactly helpless, but not really capable of cooking spaghetti either, or even scrambled eggs. Ah Greek men, what can you do?

Yesterday I wasn’t done with work til nearly 8, and I looked at my phone and notice two very hungry-looking missed calls at around 6pm from the bf. When he picked me up from work he was a bit dejected that I got off too late to cook, like a boy whose ice cream had just fallen off the cone, and miserably informed me he had eaten a tasteless frozen pizza. In fact, he later rooted around my fridge to try to get the taste out of his mouth. At least I had beer and an eggplant spread he likes, but HORROR no bread.

Well I took the responsibility upon myself. I don’t like hearing that they are surviving on doner kebab, frozen pizza, fast food, white bread and whatever extra his very pregnant sister can whip together. I don’t need to feed his dad, per se. Certainly no one asked or expects me to, but I can’t very well feed the bf and leave poor dad out of it.

It’s a community mindset. You know I’m relieved to see that all the things I had to learn and for lack of a better word, put up with, in my weird so-called Greek life are finally paying off. It’s been years and years of study. I don’t just mean growing up in the Greek Orthodox Church, cause for all my years there, it only taught me the tip of the iceberg of cultural information I possess now. I mean all that time in Greece, watching, the friends who were so strange but so familiar, the language that never seems to be uttered at anything softer than a joyful roar, the food, which is at once comforting and exquisite and not to forget my going on two years of after-school English lessons, Greek style.

I guess the next natural step is the whole dating a Greek guy. What’s funny in all this, ok, yes my childhood in Greek Fest and Sunday School and folk dance certainly led me here, BUT I am actually of the opinion that it’s the Greeks who are following me.

This morning in the market, who do I see in the square on my way to work, but a whole gaggle of my students. I walk two more feet and a few men are having a rousing discussion in Greek at the cafe above me. After work, the same route, more Greek is trailing off behind me. I am constantly jerking my head around to see if these are my students. Whenever the bf and I travel or do some sightseeing, I’ll be the first to say psst, on your left. Before the Greek syllables burst forth into the stillness of the bus or train or museum. When I take the train, who will sit down across from me, but noisy Greek kids or a Greek man explaining loudly his whole tedious life story?

It’s quite amusing for my bf. I told him in the beginning that I would have met him eventually, even if we hadn’t met that one time in a cafe after church, and he had the nerve to laugh it off as me being romantic. But oh he doesn’t doubt me now. I am a Greek magnet. Probably most of you know personally, but hey just for the sake of the interwebs, my job teaching Greek children came hurtling out of the blue, in the form of my friend’s house guest happening to buy a paper, my friend happening to looking at the want-ads that mentioned only wanting a native speaker in my city, passing it on to me and me nonchalantly sending out a quick email.

I am a magnet for the Greeks, but we’ll debate this another time.

Anyway back to cooking today. There is no pressure, but as I said after all these years, I just know what I have to do. His parents already like me, but they will worry about their son less if I do certain things, so I do these certain things. Today that was sending food over. And I do it happily, to make them happy. His parents make practically no demands of me and look after me so I really like making them happy.

Then I called up the bf to say he could inform his dad not to eat any junk today. Ha! He loved it. He loves any excuse for me to take care of him more. I prepped the veggies; it’s a great recipe. I love my oven potatoes, but I love so many more vegetables than that! What’s great is that this can be instantly modified for whatever ingredients are on hand. I’m going to play around with ratios til I achieve oven potato perfection.

By the time the veggies were nearly finished, I had smashed up the pork for schnitzel and I was just about to put the schnitzel in the pan, the bf rang and I let him in. He went straight past me, sniffing in excitement. Maybe he just wanted to get home and changed from his work clothes, but he couldn’t keep still. He debated whether he should call his dad or not, and once he finally did, learned his dad was waiting for him to go get a kebab. But was instantly excited and also made fun of me a bit asking if I could make schnitzel by myself or not.

My bf was grinning for the both of them. I made him wrap up everything in tin foil. Then he bounded out the door thanking me about 20 times and looking like he had won the lottery. I closed the door with a ridiculous grin on my face.

And that to me is worth all my effort. Cause I’m not implying that I’d happily be a domestic slave to a guy. Cooking relaxes me. Trying out new recipes stretches my creativity and I love giving things and I love that someone I love gets so much joy out of something I’ve made.

I want his dad to be pleased for him and I want the bf to be proud of me and himself. These are family values. I guess it seems weird sometimes from all the other messages that modern society throws at us. But because he doesn’t demand or even expect it, I make more of an effort. With him it’s cooking. I guess with other guys it might be something different. I don’t think it’s so backwards as feminists revolting against kitchen enslavement would like us to believe.

At any rate I also don’t understand what all this rush is about. Everyone’s after me to either get married or move-in together. One of my acquaintances (Greek) ironed all of her bf’s shirts and cooked and spooned out his meals on his plate, cause the tasted better. Man I’ve got enough stuff going on to worry about that for someone who might never take that next step with me. I’ve wasted enough time on people who are no longer in my life (subject for next time) to use all my spare time looking after someone who’s essentially a roommate. Marriage isn’t the fairy tale movies insist it is, but for those of us who believe in it, it’s a serious commitment and it should mean something.

And besides that really anti-emancipated opinion, I’d also like the anticipation to build. It should be change to look forward to. It should be something special, to join your life with the person you love. The waiting and build-up are often times better than the thing itself. I wouldn’t have any problem with the bf going home today and thinking hopefully that once we’re together, I’ll cook every night. I won’t but what’s wrong with imagining all the wonderful possibilities of something you are just starting to realize you want. Can’t I pretend for a while that our whole lives will be perfect and happy before I have to deal with reality? Why must every single thing in our modern life come instantaneously? I’m fed up with instant gratification. Meat tastes better when you’ve fasted all of Lent. The wait for Christmas and holiday good feeling is obliterated in a 15 minute present frenzy. Thanksgiving dinner tastes better when you’ve been smelling it all morning. I want to enjoy the moment that the two of us are at, without being pestered by other people’s ideas about what we need to do to be a good couple.

And right now the moment I love is the ecstatic little boy face my bf makes when I cook for him.

Beautiful Fall

I love fall in Germany. It’s gorgeous out and warm, no actually it’s hot, hotter even than it was this summer.

What’s even better is that this Monday, I have a day off. So since the weather will hold out til then, we’re heading to a small little village here to look at this historical old cottages/museum and also to go to a thermal baths.

Looks pretty nice, huh. It’s actually a salt water pool they made with the hot springs. I’m so excited. I know it’s a pastime for old people, but I love hot springs!

Anyway here are some snaps of things that have made me happy recently.

the bf, in between his car parked in backwards and the sign forbidding him from doing so. He has no shame.

Proof of the bf dancing

This is blurry, but I don't care. Here we have proof of the bf dancing.

This sign was outside the main square's crepe shop. You can get a bottle of champagne here with 4 glasses. Or even better, if a gooey nuttella-banana crepe is just what you crave when you are wearing an expensive white gown, come here for breakfast and get a glass of champagne free! WOW.

She is 70, in love, rocking leather leggings and she doesn't care what her parents think about it!

Fall in my park, on my way home. I certainly have a nice commute.

Beautiful architecture around where I live.

Lovely. So much nicer than identical square houses.

Yay for fall.

The trees don't look so yellow here, but trust me yellow leaves are everywhere.

Hot water bottle ueber-cute! This must be a European thing, I never had a hot water bottle growing up. We had a bag of rice we microwaved. Anyway, this is cuter and in a sort of traditional Alp theme that's getting more and more popular in Germany.

Luggage tag!! It says "good luck" somehow appropriate in this day and age.

got the Greece painting from Mama nicely framed. I didn't know it'd turn out so nice.

This one will go up in my classroom for the kiddies to enjoy.

Fall flowers! My grocery store has the best flower arrangements.

Go poinsettia go! Currently conducting an experiment to see if I can get it to bloom red again in time for Xmas. This has been the easiest plant ever by the way. It grows like crazy and in September I took a whole branch off cause it was crowding itself and it's still happy.

My fantasy collection finally comes home. I've gotten rid of all my other books and dumped a whole bunch of college books at home this summer, but my dragon books are here to stay. Thank you.

Our sheep Sieggi has a new home. He had some separation anxiety in the plane, but don't worry Becky, we are looking after him.

So I’m off to enjoy the sun while it lasts.