Friday, November 28, 2008

Alles für diesen Moment - by b

Alles für diesen Moment

Here is an image from our last hour or two in Munich. It's a large billboard at the airport... we saw it from the train as we were leaving town.

Kristin generally doesn't notice billboards ... (billboards are supposedly my domain while she is much more versed in the things I tend to miss --- e.g. the inner emotional lives of people). This time, though, she pointed out the tag line: Alles für diesen Moment (All for this Moment).

Living for the moment is something I have been working on for some time ... with a lot of help from Kristin. It's one reason we are in Spain.

Living for the moment is not always an easy thing for me. I made myself a reminder, a sweatshirt that says "Hineni" which means "I Am Here" in Hebrew. Here is one interpretation:

"Presence. Full attention, in present time, to whom you're with, and to what you're doing, answering call of the moment. Distracting thoughts of past and future are momentarily lost in the strength and clarity of light of the present."

It is meant to help me focus on the present... this can mean everyday things like focusing on my kids and not my email. Or being fully engaged in the conversation i am having now and not answering my phone for another. It can mean having confidence that i will remember an amazing moment and not interrupt it by taking a photo. It can mean not dwelling on the past at the expense of this moment and not fretting so much about the future at the expense of now (which enables such things as going to live in another country for a year). Some of these things are easier for me than others... I am working at it.

Germany seems to struggle with this as well. It is a country where the past lingers. While Kristin's funny and very warm cousin Frank drove us around Munich he asked if we would to go to Dachau which is nearby. Every kid after they turn 11 or 12 should go he said. We decided that this will be better on a future trip.

Dachau, along with Germany's many other museums and memorials to a monstrous atrocity are only part of the story. War itself, and its aftermath, were hell. The country (the cities) were bombed mercilessly from the air --- as can be seen driving and walking around. WWI was a nightmare for soldiers. WWII for soldiers and civilians. Kristin's mom, as a young girl about the age our kids are now, was bombed where she was living. She managed to escape falling, burning beams of wood.

So the past is inextricably woven into the present in Germany. For me, especially the first few times I visited, enjoying the present was not easy. The most simple, innocuous images, scenes and objects transported me to a very different time. A train was not just a train, a pillow was not just a pillow, a walk in the woods was not just a walk in the woods.

Each trip I make to germany, it is easier for me to just be. This is in part because I am simply getting better at living in the moment. And also because I know Germany much better now than when I first visited as an 18-year-old with my cousin Don. It's no longer an idea and collection of symbols--- but a place and collection of real people.

This trip was filled with many moments that I really loved being part of. If you regularly read this blog you have already seen the gleeful look of the kids throwing snowballs, and the relaxed look on Kristin's face in the mountains at Neuschwanstein (she always gets like that in the mountains). I have no image to share of running alone (in my Hineni sweatshirt) in the pre-dawn light and snow next to the Isar River (that'll have to be my own memory). But here is something I did snap: Frank with one of his daughters. Alles für diesen Moment

Alles für diesen Moment

school by k

last night dorian was telling me some of the things he hates here, like riding the 60 (our bus to school) and walking up the hill to our house. i said, but you like school, right? his reply: i love school! i would hug it if i could.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

snowy munich by k

sunday morning and it's snowing outside...munich is slowly turning white. arel and dorian are loving grabbing handfuls of snow and throwing them at each other and us! even though it's bitterly cold, there is something magical about snow and i'm glad we've come in november. snow is much better than rain. on friday we got completely and totally drenched at one point by freezing horizontal rain running to my cousin frank's car.

since i only brought one pair on pants, i was worried about what to wear that evening to my other cousin's place. dorian and i went in search of dryers in the basement of the building we're staying in, while arel and barak went to a tour of the allianz arena. i had seen someone coming up in the elevator with a laundry basket, so we headed down. at the end of a dark hallway was a room that said washing! inside were washing machines and dryers and a complicated set of lists where it appeared that one needed to sign up. i also found some "cages" with clothes lines where people hang their clothes to dry. someone came in and told me that you only need to sign up for the washers, not the dryers. i think it's because washers take a super long time here, about an hour and a half (not sure why) and there is not a tradition of using dryers, so they are probably not as much in demand.

i had a phone hour long phone call i first needed to make, so i just put pants and socks on the radiator in the apartment and miraculously they were dry in about an hour. no need for a return trip to the basement!

it has really hit me how much more culinarily aligned i am to germany than to spain. and it's not the wurst and sauerkraut! i love all the different breads and pastries and fruit and wish i could just eat eat eat without stopping, but only so much fits in my stomach. i have felt full pretty much the whole time since we've gotten here because i start with a breakfast of eggs and bread and stay full from there. i haven't even had apfelkuchen (like apple pie) and it's one of my favorites! i saw someone eating it yesterday at a bookstore cafe, but i think i would have exploded had i ordered a piece! i think in the end, the food here is more like what i eat in california, and then there are those few other special things that i love from here.

we had dinner both friday and saturday nights at my cousin boris's place. he has two kids, 11 and 13, and arel and dorian got along with them splendidly. they speak some english and were really nice and made a great effort to entertain their cousins from san francisco. the made it possible for barak and me to hang out with boris and his wife, anke.

in about twenty minutes we'll head to the subway to take a train out to my uncle and aunt's for the afternoon. both boris and frank will come with their families. frank has three little girls, between 2 and 5. my father's other brother, wolfram, will also join us, so it will be a mini family reunion. they live outside the city, so i think arel and dorian will have lots of time to play outside in the snow.

tomorrow we take an 11:24 train to the airport and head back to barcelona. tuesday arel and dorian go back to school!

Munich - by b

Friday, November 21, 2008

munich 2 by k

yummy breakfast, scheiss wetter!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

munich by k

the bells are chiming at some church here in's 7:54 a.m. dorian is still sleeping, arel is is the water but two comforters, reading his book. barak is out with his computer having some coffee and here i am at this little table writing and looking forward to a good german breakfast!

we rented a tiny studio apartment in the "in" neighborhood of munich. it's only one room with a sleeper couch and a single bed, with an extra matress for the floor. all very comfortable foam with nice white duvets and pillows. there's a tiny kitchen and a bathroom with a huge tub. all for 50 euros a night...and free internet!

breakfast, yes, germans do like a good breakfast! spaniards don't have a breakfast tradition at all...just some white bread or mediocre croissant and coffee. but the germans, ah, it's a thing of beauty! we went out yesterday morning and dorian got pancakes with bananas and chocolate sauce, which he then traded for nutella. arel got the standard breakfast...a basket of bread, a plate with coldcuts and cheese, and two poached eggs. barak got an omelete and i got muesli. we were even able to make two sandwiches with arel's leftovers for our german and thrifty is that?! it's funny how food can make one so happy...just having all these yummy things to choose from was a good start to the day.

after breakfast, we took a metro to the hauptbahnhof...the main train station where we started our journey to see one of the world's most famous castles, neuschwanstein. we bought a "bayern ticket" for 27 euros, which allows up to five people ride on trains within bavaria from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 a.m. the next day! another bargain to caress my german soul.

the ride was about two hours and as we got closer there were amazing views of the alps. we really lucked out on the didn't rain all day and the sun even came out. lots of green countryside rolling by, lots of little towns and the snow covered alps in the distance for much of the trip. our destination was right at the edge of the alps...very beautiful!

from the train we took a bus closer to the castles and then walked up the hill...only a little bit of grumling from dorian. i visited this castle when i was seven, dorian's age, but really only remember that we visited and what the postcard i bought looked like, so i wasn't sure what to expect.

the castle (on which walt disney based his magic kingdom castle) is in a truly spectacular landscape...the edge of the alps with lots of granite rock and forest all around. one other thing i remember from childhood is that the king who built it was "crazy." what became clear to me, based on the very little that i know, is that king ludwig was not crazy. he had a great imagination and was very creative and playful, which i imagine in the 1800s in germany gets you the classification of "crazy." our tour guide said that ludwig's death at 41 is still a mystery and hinted that some think he wasn't crazy at all.

this castle of his creation is beautiful...not every part to my taste, but some mosaics and painted arches that are just amazing. the floor in one room is a mosaic made up of two and a half million pieces, and took over two years to lay. it's very playful with pictures of animals all around. lots of color everywhere! i really loved it.

then back to munich, where we found that to pee in the train station you have to pay 1,10 to use a toilet and ,60 to use a urinal! i wonder if women are allowed to choose the urinal. there are even little turnstiles to get into each section. i snuck dorian in on my 1,10.

from there barak headed back to the apartment to get ready for a work call. arel, dorian and i went in search of a place to buy tickets for a bayern munich soccer exercise in frustration! these european futbol clubs are hard to navigate, and when we finally found a fan shop, they told us the game is sold out! now i find it hard to believe that the allianz arena , which fits 69,000 people is going to be full on a day with snow and/or heavy rain in the forecast and bayern play a mediocre team. but, no, i can't satisfy my child's dream of seeing his favorite team play! frustrating! arel is very disappointed, but we'll take him for a stadium tour today to the mega fan shop, so all will be well.

off to breakfast now, then my cousin frank will pick us up to spend the day with him. this evening it's dinner at my cousin boris's. tschuess!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

sad news by k

why is it that when i'm out and about in the world, i always have a million things i want to blog about, and then when i finally logon, it can't think of any of them?! i guess that right now my mind is too full of some news i got last friday. one of my cousins committed suicide. he was exactly my age, and i lived with his family for six months when i was 17. we were never particularly close, but it has really given me pause.

i feel incredibly sad for his family who will now have to live with this for the rest of their lives. apparently he didn't leave anything written behind, so they will always be left to wonder what happened for him, what pushed him to this final act. i honestly would never have guessed that this particular cousin would have done such a thing, and so i am reminded that everyone has a life deep inside that is theirs alone, full of feelings they can't or don't know how to express. for some it simply becomes too painful, too desperate. it reminds me of a story that karen told me from a documentary about people who have jumped off the golden gate bridge. if i remember correctly, one man said that he would walk to the bridge and if one person smiled at him he wouldn't jump. no one smiled at him.

i challenge everyone who reads this to smile at one person today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

TMB by A

i really truly hate riding the bus. it always takes forever to come and when i come home by myself in the eveing after soccer i have to take at least 2 buses and its soooooo cold when im at the STUPID bus stops freezing my ass off

please excuse me for my language


i saw barca vs Basel at camp nou with my friend Samuel and we sat in the 6th row!!!!! it was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool! the on thing is that it was a tie but we saw messi and xavi and eto'o warming up righ in front of us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

what a relief by k

HURRAY!!!!!!!! i feel a great weight lifted off my shoulders!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day by k

it's a big day! i'm on pins and needles, but i have to say that i can't imagine barack obama not winning. it simply can't happen. still, i will feel a lot calmer when the official word is in and we can be sure that republican shenanigans won't derail this victory.

i am not in love with obama. (there's only one barak for me!). he's not a savior and he's definitely not perfect, but he's smart and that's huge. i still have a bitter taste in my mouth from the misogynist sentiments that reared their ugly heads when hillary clinton was still in the race. it made clear to me how far we still have to go for people to accept a woman as leader in the u.s. i don't blame obama for's just a fact that became very clear again, and it makes me sad.

but i am very excited by this historic election. hopefully the country will begin down a new path, will clean up its act internationally, and mccain supporters will see that obama is not the antichrist. (a lot to ask, i know.)

it will be hard to go to sleep tonight knowing all the activity that will be going on at home. i tried to get us into a democrats abroad election night party, but it is sold out. i even tried to use barak's name to get us higher on the waiting list, but that didn't work. instead, we'll wake up tomorrow and hopefully have the answer. barak will probably get up at some point in the middle of the night, check the internet and then whisper the result to me. i can still remember clearly that we were in poland in 1992, in the small town where my father was born. in the middle of the night we heard on a short wave radio that clinton had was such a relief! and this time it will be an even bigger relief. i literally want to cry for happiness when i think of an end to the bush/republican insanity...please let it be so.