Woman develops black lung, insanity, heart disease from time spent in Germany


I swear, Germans are the smokenist people ever. Even more than the Japanese. Of course, smoking is allowed in the office building. The company cafeteria even sells cigarettes. Cigarettes are also available on every street corner (through machines) and in every bar, cafe or restaurant. There are even cigarettes in the minibar. I think there is some sort of federal law that all German children must learn to smoke at the age of 8. I have yet to see a child in a stroller smoke, but it's almost that bad. Just from being at work, my clothes smell like I've spent two weeks in a bar.

Yesterday was not a good one for me. After the weekend of being very much alone, I was kind of looking forward to coming back to work, just to be able to talk to people. Because of the holiday in the US, no one emailed me (damn you all!). I received no phone calls. I didn't actually need to talk to the German people here, so I didn't see them either. It was a very lonely day. I couldn't even get any comfort from CNN as there coverage was devoted to only showing video footage of drunken Greeks covered in blue makeup with white stripes, jumping up and down and shouting "Hell - Las! Hell - Las! Hell - Las!". I watched a bit of Viva (the German MTV that had a "tits and ass weekend" last weekend, compete with logo). Normally they only play German music, which I've never heard of, but I happened to catch the UK top 10 which was almost exclusively American. I nearly shed tears when I saw the D12 "How Come" video. Not only do they flash the word "Detroit" in the background about a thousand times, but they even show a flier from St. Andrews! God bless the civic pride of the rap community!

On a related note, what the hell is Brittany Spears wearing in that video (I think the song is called Everytime or something, anyway it's the one where someone hits here in the head and she dies in the bathtub). She is wearing a maxi-girdle with a man's shirt over it, a baseball cap and sunglasses. And when she has a coat over the man's shirt/girdle combo, the shirt hangs out of the back likes she's wearing a diaper! What the hell is that? And why does her hair look like it hasn't been washed in a dozen years? If I saw someone on the street dressed like that, I might just hit them in the head too, just to put them out of their misery.

My dining record hit an all time low last night. There are two restaurants in Kronach that take visa/mastercard. I went to the Italian restaurant last night, so it was my day to go to the Greek one (I avoided it yesterday because of the soccer victory which is apparently the best thing to ever happen to the Greek people). In a way, the ethnic restaurants are easier for me, because I can usually figure out the menu from the Italian or Greek. I saw an item called "Giros" which featured lamb and potatoes with cheese. Clearly this must be what I know as "Gyros" with some crazy Germanic side dish of potatoes with cheese, so I ordered it. Instead of being Gyros, it was a big gratin dish of sliced potatoes and nasty lamb tidbits all swimming in a viscous, fluorescent orange cheese sauce. It was accompanied by a side dish of coleslaw and a shot of ouzo.

Because the company is paying for my meals, I couldn't just order something else (besides that, then I would have to admit that I generally have no idea what I'm ordering here). And it's not like the Franconian people have ever envisioned a use for a vending machine for uses other than selling cigarettes, so it was either go without food or eat the quickly congealing orange goo.

To make things worse, I could really smell the shot of ouzo even though I pushed it to the far corner of the table. The potatoes were actually not bad, kind of a food service au gratin. The lamb was reminiscent of canned dog food. I contemplated the side dish for a while and decided I couldn't think of a worse combination with meat and potato goo than coleslaw. I tried a bit after the main dish and gagged a little.

On the walk back to the hotel, I passed 9 fire trucks. There are only two streets in the old town, both are one way and they form sort of a loop with a platz at either end. So this was unusual because 1) half of the population of Kronach must work as a fire man 2) the tiny medieval streets could actually accommodate a fire truck and 3) there was no fire, at least not that I could tell. I desperately wanted to ask someone what was going on, but of course I couldn't so I kept walking. I told the woman at the reception desk about it but the hotel is situated at the bottom end of town so, when she stuck her head outside, she couldn't see any of the trucks. I kind of thought that she might not have believed me, but I decided to drop it and go to my room.

About 15 minutes later, after I had already changed into my pjs, all nine fire trucks turned on their sirens and raced out of the old town. I stood at my open window, which faces the street, in my ripped pink t-shirt which I wear to bed and I laughed maniacally. I don't really know why it struck me as so funny, maybe it was the overdose of fat or the fact that I had had no human interaction in days or that it was just so plain odd that fire trucks were racing around the old town. I got a mental picture of myself, leaning out of window, above a window box of geraniums, cackling like a mad woman and it wasn't pretty. I want to come home.

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