Family history

I don’t know much about my family history beyond my grandparents. I don’t even know much about that, it’s never really been a thing. But sometimes, at family gatherings, holidays, etc. stories get shared.

As some of you know, I am half French. My dad is German, my mom is French. I’ve been raised bilingually, spent many school holidays in France, up to four weeks at a time.
There’s more to it, though. My grandpa on my mom’s side used to be German. I knew he was from Husum, northern Germany, but that’s it. I never really asked, he was one of those impressive and a bit scary but also loving grandfather of 26 grandchildren1 in his lifetime. He wasn’t a huge person, his built was average, but his voice, demeanor and strictness scared most of us grandkids. He did have a soft spot in his heart for the German ones2, though.

He died a quiet death in his bed in 1997. I can’t remember if it was then or a few years later when my dad told me the story pépé ((French, affectionate word for grandfather)) had told him one night out on the porch, sharing a few beers.

Grandpa Rudolph was in the military, a stoker/machinist on a German submarine. Well, of course, he was born in one of the northern-most cities in Germany. I don’t know anything about that time in his life, except that the submarine was captured in Lorient, France, when the harbor was taken by the English. He ended up being a prisoner of war, tried to escape three times.
His first two attempts ended up with him being caught in a rowboat on the atlantic, and brought back into camp. On his third attempt he actually got all the way home, but the Mayor – who was a friend of the family, but still – had to send him back because he couldn’t produce any discharge papers from his prisonership. So he got taken back to France. That when he said “Fuck it”, and after being released he just stayed in France. By that time he must’ve gotten a fair command of at least French and English, so he made do with being a day-laborer.
At one point he ended up staying with a peasant for a while, essentially being a farmhand. The guy took a liking to him and in the end tried to marry his daughter off to him, so he’d have someone to pass on the farm. Pépé apparently didn’t like what he’d told my dad was one monster of a woman and fled during one night.

He later married my grandmother Gisèle and did a lot of different jobs from building to being a trucker, which got him to drive from Spain to Russia, from Sweden to Italy and pick up all sorts of languages. My mom apparently got some of the restlessness from him and spent time as an au-pair in London and Berlin, as a late teenager. Then she ended up spending some time in a tiny village in the Moselle valley, working as a waitress in the restaurant/bar my dad and the guys from the orchestra frequented at the time. He was 28ish, she was about 21. He asked her out, she went along to one of the orchestra gigs at a wine festival and nearly got scared off by the guys from the neighboring village telling her: “What? YOU WENT OUT WITH ONE OF THEM?”
In the end all went well, and when my dad told his mom that a) he was gonna be a dad and b) they were gonna get married anyway, she first freaked out and went: “I knew it! It was bound to happen, you always laid with her back in your room! I’m not gonna tell your grandma, that’s up to you.”
To which my dad replied: “FINE!” and went to his grandma, said: “Granny, I’m gonna be a dad!”
My great-grandma’s reply was classic: “Oh. Good. But you know, at your age this didn’t have to happen to you!”3.
My parents married in June 1981. I was born in October that year.

Footnotes
  1. my mom had 12 siblings []
  2. there’s 5 of us, my sis, 3 cousins and me []
  3. as in, don’t get stuck with a kid, you should be smarter than that. but not in a mean way []

Lonely.

What do you call an introvert that seems like an extrovert when around people he’s really comfortable with?

Nothing. You don’t call him, because apparently you assume he’s busy being a crazy social butterfly, fending off people wanting to spend time with him.1

Today was just one of the days I realized this.
I got the crazy idea to text a group of people. Five couples, to be specific. A few guys I went to school with and have known for more than half my life plus their significant others.
It’s only been a few hours, but I am not really hopeful, for some reason.

I first asked if anyone had time to go have dinner on the weekend of my birthday, in two and a half weeks.
One of the couples replied that they were busy. Their acoustic trio has a gig the day before and tickets for a musical on that day. Fair enough.
After realizing that the weekend before would actually be better for me, since my birthday weekend also is the weekend of the wine festival my orchestra organizes.
So I suggested going for that weekend instead and offered to kill a few bottles of wine with whoever joins me on the actual birthday weekend.
Couple 2: We won’t be available on your birthday but probably could do something on the weekend before.
Couple 3: no reply yet. I know, it only has been a few hours, but I don’t really expect a timely response anymore. I really like them, and it’s mutual, it’s just that they’re notoriously bad at replying to text or picking up their phone, something that hasn’t gotten better since they had their kid a year ago. I still tried. You never know.
Couple 4 and 5 I only added just in case they happen to be in the area. They live 200 respectively 700 or so kilometers away, but who knows, I might get lucky.

That’s just one occurence, I know, but it feels typical.
People seem to assume I’m busy or something even if I tell them I’m usually not. Hell, I’d probably jump at ANY opportunity if someone texted me and said “hey, let’s go get a burger/movie/ice cream/go bowling/throw rocks at stupid people.” I’d drive an hour for any of that.
People don’t.
“Why don’t you reach out?”
When I was a kid, my parents described me as shy. I guess I kinda am. Once I warm up to people, it doesn’t show in conversations. Certainly not on twitter. Some of you have met me, have had dinner with me, played Cards Against Humanity with me, went to the zoo with me, even travelled with me for a bit. You’ve met me at my best and happiest. Among people who wanted to spend time with me and made it clear.

Sure, I meet people every week(ish) at orchestra rehearsal, but I don’t count that as spending time with friends. It’s a thing I do, but that’s mostly it. I also have tons of coworkers and usually have fun with them, but work is the focus then. That’s it.
On any given working day, the average number of words spoken to people I don’t somehow work with or that I buy food from is zero-ish.
Usually, I get home from work and spend the rest of they day talking to people on twitter and IRC, maybe watch a tv show or movie on bluray or netflix.

I used to meet up with couple 3 a lot, before they had the kid, for regular board game nights. That died down after a while, when more people we played with got busy and parts of their own lives (university, job) changed.

Sure, I could ask them, the other local friends or some of the coworkers that don’t live two hours away from me to do stuff, but it’s not that easy to me. They do have lives and partners and other friends of their own. They have other stuff they do regularly that eats up some time. And there’s the little fact that I already feel imposing when I ask some coworkers if they mind me tagging along on their lunch break. I know they don’t mind, I’m pretty sure they’d tell me if they did. But still, it’s how I feel, can’t change much about that. I occasionally do join them when time permits, but if that sometimes feels awkward to me, imagine how difficult it is to be the one to constantly have to ask people to spend their free time with, if almost nobody else ever initiates.

A former coworker who’d moved away is now back in the area, only a 25 minute drive from where I live, less from work, we already met up for dinner once, vowed to do that more often, I guess that’s something, and I’m really glad.

Other than that: sure, I have my “social circles” on twitter and irc and other people I mostly talk to via the internet, but having some of your closest friends being anything between 200 and 10.000km away, I still sometimes am really fucking lonely.

Ok, that’s enough, brb, gonna go donate to Syrian refugees. If you can afford it, think about doing it. I suggest this place to start: Pat Rothfuss’ blog with a link to his worldbuilders fundraiser

 

 

Footnotes
  1. Another acceptable answer would have been: Lonely. Really fucking lonely. []

German with Olli – Being sick

Hello class! [pause] Aw.

Looks like you’re all krank.

Krank is the German word for ill or sick. A sickness/illness is Krankheit.

If you’re too sick to go to school or work, you might need a doctor’s note, or Krankmeldung. A sick-report. It’ll state that you are unfit for work until a given date and can be extended if necessary. They are on yellowish paper, which is why we also call them Gelber Schein or yellow slip.
Interesting enough, playing hooky, skipping school or work without legitimate reason, is called blau machen: to make blue.

Being krank is won’t usually ruin you in Germany. We do have mandatory health insurance, the providers are called Krankenkasse. Something like sick-bank.

So you don’t really have to be afraid of THIS reason if an ambulance or Krankenwagen (sick-car) picks you up and drives you to the Krankenhaus.
Over there, nurses will take care of you. Or as we call them Krankenschwester (sick-sister, or rather sister to the sick) if female and Krankenpfleger (sick-carer) if mail.

I’m pretty sure the sister thing came from when the sick were primarily cared for by nuns in abbeys, their title being Sister. That’s why the head nurse of a hospital still is called Oberschwester, a mix of, well Schwester and Oberin (Reverend Mother, from which you could make the link to matron, or hospital matron).

There’s also:

Krankenakte – sick file or medical record
Krankenbett – sick bed
Krankengeld – sick-money, benefits you get paid when you are hospitalized past a certain threshold. For the first six weeks of being sick, your employer HAS to continue your pay, after that your Krankenkasse takes over.

 

So, yeah, our language might be a bit brutal, but being sick wont really kill you. Uh…unless it does. Sorry.

German with Olli – Pigs!

In today’s German lesson I shall ramble about naming animals again.

Turns out there’s quite an abundance of pigs in Germany.

Our word for pig is Schwein.
A piglet is a Ferkel.

We call guinea pigs Meerschweinchen which translates back to little sea-pig. Their bigger relatives, Capybara, we call Wasserschwein. Water-pig.

Then there’s Seeschwein which translates to sea-pig as well. See is our word for lake or the sea depending on context and gender. Der See is the lake, die See is the sea. Seeschwein is a rarely used word for Dugong. Sometimes we also call it Seekuh = sea cow.

We also have stinger-pigs, Stachelschweine. Those are porcupines!
Finally there’s the Schweinswal. Pig-whale. You probably know it as harbor or common porpoise.

So many pigs. Man, I could totally do with a sausage now.

Haikurotica

A week ago I got a silly idea t work and I tweeted it. There’s not really any way to explain it without spoiling the fun, so here’s transcription of the tweets without the hashtags and stuff, I guess.

 

In my sensual dreams
I remove the outer shell
From your soft, sweet curves

Run my hungry tongue
Along the ridges and valleys
Of delighted flesh

Breathe your fragrance sweet
Soak it up into myself
Till I lose control

Nibbling at your skin
Digging deep with greedy tongue
In the wet inside

Ripping you apart
Piece by piece partake of you
Tear into your flesh

 

Oh man, I love oranges. Sure wish I had one right now.

https://storify.com/OlliCrusoe/haikurotica

German with Olli – naming animals

We’re probably as good at naming animals as we’re at stuff.

The German word for animal is Tier. Now you know half of naming a load of German animals.

Here’s a list of the best ones, I guess:

skunk – Stinktier – stink-animal
armadillo – Gürteltier – belt-animal
sloth – Faultier – lazy-animal
platypus – Schnabeltier – beak-animal
aye-aye – Fingertier – finger-animal

I’M NOT KIDDING YOU! Wait till I tell you about pigs!

German with Olli – Just German stuff!

If you read my blog, you might be aware of the #GermanWithOlli twitter feature I’m running three times a week. This is part of it.

You can check out the previous tweets if you want to!

As you see, German has some awesome words, and we’re really good at naming stuff.

And we’re in love with the word for stuff. The German word for that is Zeug. We love that word so much we use it in compound words all the time. Some really official, some a little colloquial, but they’re all legit.

Here’s a few examples:

vehicle = Fahrzeug = drive-stuff
airplane = Flugzeug = fly-stuff
ship = Schiff. Wait, that doesn’t belong here.

But there’s more: our word for toy is Spielzeug. Yup, play-stuff.
The less official ones might be Waschzeug = wash-stuff. Or toiletries. Like the kit that you take with you on vacation, camping or an overnight stay.
Bettzeug = bed-stuff = bedding. Linens, pillowcase, etc.

Schreibzeug = writing-stuff. If we tell you to get your Schreibzeug, we are talking about pen and paper to take notes.

That’s it for today, I hope you enjoy #GermanWithOlli

Maui 2015 – The last full day

My last day on Maui was pretty relaxed. I started by driving to Maalea Harbor again to check out the aquarium and its seafood restaurant1 and was pleasantly surprised.

The aquarium was fun, educational and a nice place to just sit down and relax. I honestly just spent half an hour sitting on a bench and reading, just enjoying myself.

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When it was reasonably lunch-timey I went to check out the restaurant and damn! For an inside-tourist-trap2 the service and price range was actually amazing.

And the food! Delicious!+ Just look at this beauty!WP_20150528_12_35_01_Pro

 

The rest of the day was spent driving around a few places that I’d had recommended for swimming, snorkeling, etc, but I guess traveling alone I should’ve prepared for those things differently. I didn’t regret it though. In the evening I went back to Whaler’s Village, Leilani’s again and decided to splurge for one last time.
It was glorious. I did have a very good waitress and probably was just way to comfortable for my own good, so I got a Mango Flow, got talked into trying the best sword fish tacos I could imagine and finished up with their sorbet trio, strawberry, mango-papaya and dragonfruit. That and the scenery made for a nice final evening of my vacation. Oh, and I also got to help recently arrived Australians to plan their time on Maui, confirming what the waitress told them about it being rather chilly up on Mt. Haleakala. That was fun!

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And that pretty much wraps up my vacation. I mean, yes, I checked out of the hotel the next day, had a rather nice breakfast in Lahaina, got rid of my trusty rental jeep and flew back to San Francisco. I also got really lucky because my baggage had arrived with an earlier flight since I had checked in so early. That way I managed to get the last of the free shuttle buses to the hotel. It was after midnight, after all. The nearby McDonalds being closed put a dampener on things because I WAS kinda hungry, but what can you do?

The next day ways spent getting from San Francisco to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to my parents place and from my parents place to mine. The next week was filled with the mother of all jetlags, and after a while I started blogging and BOOM, here we are, see you next time!

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Footnotes
  1. no kidding []
  2. zoos, aquariums, amusement parks etc usually have interesting ideas about food prices []

Maui 2015 – Sunrise on Mt. Haleakala

EosRoadtrip 2079

When going to Maui, bring gloves, a sweater, a jacket and a warm hat. You’ll need it. Trust me. Also book a trip up to Mt. Haleakala at sunset, it’s worth it. Also I’m not kidding about the temperatures. You’re roughly 10.000ft above sea level, it will be around freezing and there’s windchill to consider.

If you drive yourself, which I don’t recommend, leave at roughly 1am. Drop off your car, go to the wall on the right side of the visitor center/shelter thing. Gloves. Don’t forget gloves. Wait. Enjoy.
Seriously, though, book a bus tour. It’s a lot safer, we passed an accident on the way back down, you don’t want to be those guys. Also the bus drive I had was rather fun. I almost missed pickup though, because my travel voucher/confirmation said 2:45am and the phone in my hotel room rang at 2 sharp. Can’t remember the last time I got dressed this fast, luckily I had everything laid out. The bus trip (picking up people at various hotels included) up to the national park and the parking lot near the observation place was roughly 2 hours 30. Our bus driver chatted away happily, told stories, dropped us off, drove us back down again, told more stories, stopped at photo opportunities and restroom breaks. And of course for the really nice breakfast that was included. And he chatted A LOT, but it was fun. Even if all of us were dead tired. Apart from that there’s not really much to tell, so I’ll just leave you with the pictures, right?

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Naturally I didn’t do that much for the rest of the day. What I did do was have dinner at the Hula Grill in Whaler’s Village. A Mai Tai, flatbread and a ginormous Hula pie. Dying just thinking about the tastiness.

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