I don't want to write about the weather. Doing so makes me feel like an abject failure. I mean, fucking seriously? Out of all the cliche, trite and uninspired shit - casual observations about the weather are like the very fucking bottom of prose. But I must, so let's get this out of the way. There's a heatwave this week. Not just in Germany, of course. In fact, this last July was the hottest month ever recorded, so I invite anyone who still denies climate change to suck me off outside in August without sunscreen while wearing a North Face jacket.
Air conditioning is not in every building in Germany, and that's a hard thing to adjust to. Floridians take for granted that you can always just go inside and be fine. Even people who live in trailers have AC units. I feel the need to take a shower twice a day lately. After four hours of sitting in my language class, I fear I will stand up and expose a visible streak of ball sweat to my international acquaintances. But rather than blame everyone else for failing to install an AC unit, I must accept this problem as a personal flaw of my own making. Because one of my teachers is originally from Russia and even he seems to be doing just fine with the summer. If someone grows up on air conditioning, that's all they know. But the ones who never had this cushion adapt seamlessly. So maybe the solution isn't every building in Germany having air conditioning - maybe it's that I build a time machine and deprive myself of AC throughout my entire childhood. It's like skating. When I learned to skate, I fell on my ass and scraped my skin off so many times that it just became a part of my day. But a kid whose parents keep pads and pillows on them every day, who is never allowed to get on a skateboard, the first time that kids falls they will think they're dying. And in terms of air conditioning, I'm the kid who has been wearing pads and pillows his whole life.
On to other things. I now have enough German to conduct most of my transactions only in the German language. I felt quite proud of myself the first time I bought some e-cig juice and coils all on my own without any English. Of course, so many Germans are fluent in English that any moment of uncertainty on my part invites them to shift the conversation. If I hear a word I don't know, I usually will say "entschuldigung?" or "bitte?" in hopes that a person will repeat and it will click for me, but usually my obvious American accent prompts the person to clarify for me in English. And I appreciate that, but I certainly need the practice. Last week, I also successfully procured ibuprofen from the apotheke (pharmacy) on a day when I had a raging headache. I got everything right except for the fact that I pronounced "ibuprofen" like an American.
The apotheke is quite an interesting thing for an American who isn't familiar with Germany. In the United States, over-the-counter medicine can be purchased in a pharmacy, grocery store, Walmart or gas station and it's a simple matter of bringing it up to the register to be scanned. In Germany though, all meds are "behind the counter." You don't need a prescription, you can ask for some ibuprofen and get it, but the pharmacist makes sure it won't interact with any meds you're on and lets you know how many to take. So every headache pill, bottle of cough syrup and laxative you need requires interacting with another human being. I don't have strong feelings about it either way. I suppose it's for the best though, it's not like most people bother to read the label on their meds.
If any American expat ever misses the enthralling experience of waiting at the Department of Motor Vehicles, they will be happy to know they can have that experience in Germany too. I had to talk to the Auslanderamt (immigration) and Anna and I woke up at the ass crack of dawn to get there right when it opened. We took a number. And we waited. And waited. And waited. A big screen displays what numbers have been called and what room to go to - and just like the DMV, it makes that same "ding!" sound every time a new number is called.
Anyway, I'm off to my class. If I survive the heat, then you all can expect this blog to continue.