Thursday, August 06, 2020

Woman in Supermarket

When I was in the supermarket before, a woman pushing a baby carriage came in the store after me. I took notice of her because she looked nice, but not friendly. As I did my shopping, I saw her a few times, on various aisles. At one point, she was on one aisle and I was on an adjacent one, and I knew she was next to me even though I couldn't see her because I was able to hear her baby playing with a squeaky toy. 
At the checkout area, I took note of one of the items this woman planned to purchase. It was coffee, instant coffee.  This item stood out to me because instant coffee is not by any means popular in Germany. The plastic lid of the jar containing the coffee was green.  

Wednesday, August 05, 2020


"We need to talk." 
"Sure, about what?" 
"About us." 


“I’m not breaking up with you because…"
(Me in my head: “We’re breaking up?”)


"What’s up your ass?" 
"I no longer want to be your partner: that’s what’s up my ass."


"I mean, does this feel like a relationship?" 
"I mean...wait, what?" 
"No, you go 'head."
"I mean, honestly, does this feel like a relationship to you?" 


"You're acting different." 
"Yeah, yeah. You're acting different." 


"If you need to, you can call me back, OK?"
"OK, goodnight, then, OK? 
"Hi. You said I could call back." 
"Yeah, yeah, of course." 

Poor Nick...Poor Mom

The actual basketball courts where it all "went down." 

One afternoon many, many years ago, my mom dropped me off at a schoolyard near our house. This made sense because the schoolyard, known to everybody who used it as “the park,” was my favorite place to play. And how couldn’t it be? It had basketball courts, handball courts, monkey bars and swings. 
Usually, anytime I’d go to the park, my friends, or at least a friend, would already be there. But on this particular afternoon, I was having a hard time finding anyone. On the basketball courts, however, I ran into a kid I knew, Nick. Nick was about three years older than I was, so he would have been about 13 at the time. I remember that Nick was a nice kid, and I never had any problems with him. 

Anyway, on this day, Nick decided, for whatever reason, that he wanted to play fight with me. Moments after he greeted me--I think we were actually the only two people on the basketball courts--he grabbed me in a headlock and wouldn’t let go. I might have tried to get out of the headlock--I hope I did--but all of it was just a joke, and we knew that. 

Suddenly, though, in the middle of our horsing around, I hear my mom. 

“Get off him! Get the fuck off him, you son of a bitch! I’ll kill you! Get the fuck off him! Now!”

Apparently, my mom had seen what was going on from her car--I personally thought that she had driven away--and had come down to rescue me. The only thing was, of course, I didn’t need any rescuing. 

“Ma, it’s OK, we’re just joking, we’re just playing.” My mom was now on the basketball courts with Nick and me, and all three of us were standing in close proximity. 

“You get off of him, you hear me,” my mom said. 

“Ma, it’s just a joke; I know him--it’s Nick. I know him. We were just joking.” 

“Well it didn’t look like a joke.” 

Nick just looked on, stunned. He didn’t say anything. I was absolutely mortified. 

“Ma, it’s fine, I’m fine, please...” 

And with that, my mom backed off. She told me she'd see me later, walked out of the park and drove away. 

I don’t think Nick ever talked to me after that again.  

Tuesday, August 04, 2020


So this morning I went onto my balcony to play guitar. I had just begun strumming when I saw a wasp on one of the railing’s balusters. The wasp didn’t seem to be doing too well. He was motionless, and when I got up close to examine him, his antennae were moving very slowly. His wings also weren't that translucent. 

To try to help the little fella, or at least give him a small treat before death, I went into my kitchen for some honey. Back on the balcony, I smeared a fingertip’s worth of the sweet stuff about a centimeter above the wasp’s head. It was like magic! The wasp all of a sudden started crawling upwards, and before I knew it was using this tiny little, straw-like mouthpart of his (I guess it’s called a proboscis) to suck up the honey.

I think I might have saved the wasp because later, when I checked to see if he was still there, I saw that he had flown away. There was still someone honey on the railing. Maybe an evening treat? 

Monday, August 03, 2020


A holy-fuck-I-live-in-Europe moment:

"What are you looking for, sweety, 50 cent pieces or 20?

Cake First

The other day we ate breakfast at a café that was at the corner of Schubertstrasse and Mendelssohnstrasse. There was a row of tables outside the café, and a wicker beach chair was set up at each table. Standing in front of an unoccupied table--two tables were already taken--we wondered if we should first go into the café to order or to take a seat and wait to be served. This question was settled after we noticed a laminated card on one of the tables. It said, “Please order inside.”

After we placed our orders--two lattes and two pieces of cake--we walked back outside and took a seat. I had a book and began reading to you. But a few moments after I started, I began to feel self-conscious. After all, there were people sitting only a few tables away, and I thought I might be disturbing them. You noticed that I didn’t feel 100 percent comfortable and asked me if I’d like to come sit next to you in the beach chair. I thought all my problems were solved, but the moment I sat down next to you, I noticed it was way hotter in the beach chair. The hood was probably keeping in the heat. Nevertheless, I ignored my discomfort and continued to read.

After a few minutes, the waitress came with our cake. Each piece was on a plate and she put both plates on the table. She then went back inside the cafe. I was expecting her to return momentarily with the lattes, but she didn’t. I thought that I was maybe being impatient, but then another couple minutes passed, and another, and another...

What the fuck?” I finally said. I had been trying to hold back my annoyance but couldn’t any longer. “Where the fuck is she?”

“I don’t get it, either.”

“I mean, who does that? Who brings the cake first?”

“It makes no sense, you know, because that’s how they make money. How many times have you finished your first drink before they even come with the food? Then you have to order another drink.”

“It’s like, Waitressing 101. Bring the fucking coffee first. What are we supposed to do with just cake?”

“It’s ridiculous; it makes no sense.”

“OK, I’ll tell you what. If I get to the end of this page and she still hasn’t brought out the coffees, I’ll go in and ask, OK?”


About three-quarters down the page the waitress came out with our coffees.

“Oh, perfect,” I said, as I moved the plates with cake out of the way to make room for the lattes.

“There we go, two lattes,” the waitress said.

“Awesome, thank you,” I said.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Burial at Sea

As Martina and I were lying in bed the other day, I noticed that there was an insect on the wall; it looked like a mosquito.
“Is that a mosquito?” Martina said.
“I was just wondering that!”
She got up to see.
“Yup, it’s a mosquito.”
“Will you get it?”
“Yes, of course,” she said, as she stepped off the bed.
While she was in the kitchen getting a piece of paper towel to kill the thing with, I said, “I’m just going to go wash up real quick, OK?”
“Yeah, yeah,” she said, smiling. “You don’t have to be part of the killing.”
I laughed. “I know.”
As I was showering, Martina came into the bathroom and showed me the dead mosquito in her hand.
“Got it, huh?”
“Yup.” She then went over to the toilet and dropped it in. “Wasserbestattung,”  she said.
I laughed again. After all, Wasserbestattung means “burial at sea.”

Martina Chess

So I've been teaching Martina how to play chess, and today we played a really good game. Although I won, Martina really applied pressure at certain points. Especially impressive was her 20th move, Knight to h6, check. After that move I really had to defend precisely. Good job, Martina, and keep up the good work!

Friday, July 31, 2020


So in Germany, they have these waterbirds called Haubentaucher. I’m not sure if we have them in America. Their body shape, more or less, is that of a duck’s, but their distinguishing feature is the spiky hair on their head. It looks like they are sporting a mohawk.

Anyway, today as Martina and I were walking along a canal near my house, we saw two Haubentaucher in the water. The first thing that I noticed about them was that they were very close together. Also, it looked like something was on one of the birds, perhaps a baby.

"Is that a baby?" I asked Martina. Though she initially said no, on further inspection we discovered that indeed, a Haubentaucher chick was hitching a ride on one of its parents.

“Oh my God, that’s so cute,” I said.

“Wee!” Martina said, as the baby slipped off the adult bird’s backs and into the water. The baby was just a tiny little thing and its head was striped like a zebra.

“Holy shit, is there another one?”

This time Martina told me I was right. Peeking out from the wing of the other Haubentaucher was another black-and-white head.

Then the cutest thing happened. The first baby that I saw crawled back onto his mother (or father) and tucked himself under his (or her) wing. It tucked itself in there so good it was no longer visible.

“Holy shit, did he just go under the wing?”

“Yeah," Martina said, smiling. "So cute."

“That is really, really cute.”

After Martina and I said adieu to this little bird family, I said to her,  "Wow, so that really is where the expression ‘to take someone under your wing' comes from."

“Yeah, we have that too in German, 'Jemanden unter seine Fittiche nehmen.'"

“Yeah, like, to show someone the way, to be their mentor.”

“Yeah, like in business.”


Thursday, July 30, 2020


Last night I dreamed that I was in some kind of post office. I say “some kind” of post office because the place felt more like an art-supplies shop, but let’s call it a post office for now. I was there because I wanted to mail a piece of artwork I had made. But there was a complication. One of the fittings that was to be used to keep the framed painting in place was made by the company Daum. Daum, you should know, is a French manufacture of decorative glass. I personally have  no idea why the fitting would have been made by Daum, but it was. Anyway, when I asked a post office employee who was behind a counter how much the painting was going to cost to ship, he said that it was going to cost a lot more than normal--three times more--because of the Daum fitting. Ultimately, the employee asked another worker if he could check in the back to see whether or not the shop had a basic fitting that could be used instead of the Daum one.


It’s a strange dream, I know. How to explain the Daum thing...Well, my connection to Daum glass is my mom. She loves it and knows a ton about it. So there ya go.