12.18.2007

Improvisation

I am drinking my coffee out of a soup bowl this morning. The teacups Max’s company provided in our temporary residence do not work for me. The cups are just too small for the sort of caffeine gulping I require in the mornings. So, I improvised.

I find, since our move across the pond, we do a lot of improvising. For example, we crave American television, but hadn’t been able to watch of our favorites shows until discovering iTunes. For $1.99 per episode (about .25 cents in Euros), Max and I download some to the Mac. Sunday nights have become our CSI and Chuck night.

Fortunately, iTunes offers most news and political programming for free. I now regularly download This American Life, Meet the Press, Hardball with Chris Mathews, Face the Nation, and the first hour of Today. It doesn’t matter that I’m getting my news a day later. It’s just nice to be able to watch and enjoy political commentary over my bowl of hot, steaming coffee.

When it came to NBC Heroes—my favorite show not offered on iTunes—I turned to Google for assistance. After searching “how to watch Heroes in Germany,” I located a Japanese website that features bootlegged episodes. I don’t care that the versions also comes with Japanese subtitles and an annoying flashing ad for Panasonic video cameras. At this point, I am just pray the site will also show Lost in January.

Sometimes an expat can’t depend on being able to improvise and must rely on patience instead. Saturday, Max craved an authentic Greek salad and I headed to the grocery store for the necessary spices. I scanned isles and quickly located olive oil (olivenöl), salt (salz), oregano, and pepper (pfeffer) because the German names are English cognitives. However, it took 30 minutes to find garlic salt--and there is no improvising for garlic salt in the recipe. So for those hoping to make Greek salad during your visit to Germany, remember these words because it will save you much stress and hunting: knoblauch salz.

Unfortunately, there are times when neither improvisation nor patience can fix a situation. It took two weeks to get our bank-issued EC cards--the only form of credit or debit that most major retail outlets accept in Germany. But, it took only one day for the bank machine to suck the card out of Max's hand when he went to get cash. We're still not exactly sure what he did wrong, and no one can tell us. I suppose in this situation, all we can do is laugh it off

...or cry trying.

15 comments:

running42k said...

Hang in there baby. You are adapting already.

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Jamy said...

Diane--you could seriously write a book about your adjustment to German life. Now that would be a way to occupy yourself!

Anonymous said...

Weird -- I am able to use my Visa and Am Ex cards in Germany without any problems. Don't you have other credit cards? But when I lived in Italy, the debit card part was just as complicated as yours sounds -- I made do for a long time paying ATM fees and making withdrawals on my US account.

But reading your post made me remember somethign from my time abroad that I'd forgotten. My boyfriend taped (this was pre-dvr days) at least 6 months of ER for me, which was my fave show at the time. I could find re-runs in Italy but they were dubbed into Italian and even though I understood about 80% of normal dialogue, I was closer to 40% of hospital dialogue. I spent 2 whole days watching when I got home. If only there had been itunes...

Diane Mandy said...

Anon- I also have Mastercard, but most of the grocery stores and all of the major chains like IKEA or Saturn do not accept any of them in our area. At least that's what we're told when we ask. Oddly enough, the Saturn closer to the military base an hour from here does--perhaps to cater to the larger concentration of Americans. I dunno.

AmyD said...

Yeese. My first thought upon reading this was: "Maybe Diane should get Germany-native Ulli's ("Me"/Fabulous) number and put her on speed-dial?" ;o)

utenzi said...

The Hollywood writers strike might work in your favor, Diane. You'll be able to catch up with all the shows by the time some new programming comes out.

Me said...

I need to forward your email to my girlfriend. On it! Sorry for the delay. :)

kenju said...

Aren't you glad you're not working now? If it takes all day to find garlic salt, you'd be out of luck...LOL

A Life Uncommon said...

Oh my gosh... the fact that you'd drink coffee out of a soup bowl makes me think I'm going to LOVE your blog. I mean from one coffee addict to another, who couldn't like someone like that!? ;) Found ya via Brookem.

Rachel said...

Drinking out of a soup bowl? That's fantastic.

And I wholeheartedly agree with jamy.

brookem said...

Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to get her morning cup of joe in!

I hope Lost will be on for you too!

ms chica said...

My husband used to get bootlegged dvds when he traveled to Lima. He brought back a copy of Memoirs of Geisha. The movie was mostly in English but it featured Spanish subtitles which which blocked out the English subtitles when the characters spoke in Japanese.

Jen said...

I have a possible explanation why your card disappeared. Have you perhaps entered the wrong secret bank card number? When you want to get money from a cash machine (Geldautomat) you only have three tries to input the correct secret number. After entering a third consecutively wrong number the cash machine will suck the card. It is so that bank card thieves can't just try combination after combination until they have the right secret number and can easily steal money.

Diane Mandy said...

You're right, Jen. That is exactly what happened. Max entered the wrong pin number. It took a couple weeks to finally get a new card, but I think we're finally on the road of the straight and narrow! I hope so at least. Thanks for stopping by!