December 10, 2018
Before I had even had my Muesli and yogurt, things went off the rails, schedule-wise.
In an effort to get more organized, I had scheduled the day in minute detail. Like, everything. I set it up so my Google Calendar would notify me when it was time to move from task to task, beginning with breakfast.
But then my wife Irene and I realized we were missing a maybe-important letter from the insurance company that came last week, one that neither of us had read yet because it’s in this really exhausting kind of legal German, and after she left for work, I tore the place apart looking for it. This despite my phone telling me it was 7 a.m., time to get to work.
But I found it! And then I did get to work. It was a story about eSports, which isn’t traditionally my jam, but I don’t even think I came up for air except for when my cats began fighting over the little kitty-bed that sits on the desk beside my keyboard.
When I work, I put my phone on airplane mode and do this tomato timer thing, AKA the Pomodoro Technique, where I set a timer for 25 minutes and then take 5 minute breaks. This is especially helpful for when I’m working on a creative project for myself that isn’t on deadline. But because I was on deadline, I found myself completely skipping the breaks—in some cases not even registering that it was break time.
Before I knew it, it was 10:30. Time for my shower. Then, off to the gym.
We did a group workout where for 25 minutes we had to throw this medicine ball high against a wall and do some overhead stuff with a semi-heavy bar and some rowing. It was my first time there since early September, due to an issue with my knee.
Did I feel like I was maybe cramping up after the warm up? Yes. But I struggled through the workout anyway, hoping nobody would notice how out of shape I’d become.
Afterward, I said something like, Lord have mercy, and this German guy named Felix was like, Yeah, I saw you take some weight off your bar halfway through.
Afterward, as I was walking to the streetcar through an industrial area outside Heidelberg, I noticed a bird, maybe a raven or a crow? It had a nut in its beak, and I watched as it flew about 10 feet off the ground and dropped the nut onto the asphalt. It did this three or four times.
Oh, I realized, it’s trying to crack open that nut. What a smart bird.
I pulled out my phone to take a video but just then a car appeared at the end of the street and the bird stopped doing its nut cracking. Instead, it just stood in the middle of the road. I thought it would get smashed, but it hopped out of the way right before the car got there.
Maybe that bird isn’t so smart after all, I thought.
But as I started to walk away, I saw that the bird was now perched on a nearby car, and what was it eating? That fucking nut! It had cracked it open by placing it in the path of the car.
I missed my tram thanks to the bird-watching. I took the next one, and nabbed the only available seat, which happened to face these two lanky German guys in their late teens or perhaps early 20s. They were in that phase that some boys go through (and some never leave), where they’re loud and take up as much public space as physically possible. In this case, they were stretched out across two-plus seats, each. They both wore over-the-ear headphones and were talking to each other at a volume you’d expect of two teen boys wearing over-the-ear headphones. I thought, maybe I should tell them to shut up? But then I thought: Oh wait, I don’t actually care, and plus they’re just teens expressing themselves, even if extremely obnoxiously, and also they are probably hoping someone confronts them.
I didn’t get home until well after my phone had told me to eat lunch. After a quick egg sandwich it was back to my desk, where the cats had resolved their differences and were snuggled down on the coveted bed. I worked pretty solidly until 4, when I was notified it was time to practice German.
I’ve been in Germany for going on seven years, and my German is good, but because Irene and I are both Americans, and because I work in English, my daily exposure to the language isn’t what it could be. Lately I’ve been reading the German translation of John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief, which for some reason is called Die Akte in German. It’s pretty good so far. I read aloud for a half hour, Darby Shaw on the run.
When that was finished, I pulled my guitar off the wall and worked on a song my band is trying to nail before we play our next show at O’Reilly’s Irish Pub. The song is a traditional Irish number called St. Anne’s Reel. We’re mostly a folk/blues/Americana sort of band, but this has been a fun change of pace.
Before long, Irene was home from work. She’s a chemist and works about an hour away. The cats can hear her coming before she even gets to my building, and yesterday they jumped off the desk and stood by the door, quivering with excitement, until she walked in.
I hadn’t scheduled dinner or relax time or bedtime in my Google Calendar because I’m not a psychopath. We ate and watched some fail videos on YouTube, laughing at other peoples’ poor decisions and minor injuries. While we watched, I scheduled out the next day.