Speaking of views out my window:

Saturday morning it snowed. Saturday night, the snow stuck and in Studentendorf Stühlinger (student village Stühlinger) people were building snowmen and having snowball fights when we took a break from the three-course meal (not including apératif and digéstif) and went on a lovely walk along the Dreisam (Freiburg's river). Sunday morning I managed to get some decent pictures. Now I am going to spend two more hours online chatting with America (North and South) before going to bed. I wrote it like that because the timestamp says sometime before midnight, so it's like I'm seeing the future. It's actually 1:41 am. Guten Nacht.
P.S. There is a pirate ship for the small hippie children who live in the "commune" that is between my building and my Straßenbahn stop. When people come to Vauban, we say "cross the S-Bahn tracks, the parking lot, the street, and then walk between the giant old busses that people live in. My building is the one directly behind the pirate ship. Go to the second/third floor—first Obergeschoss!" And then people take the wrong stop because both mine and the one before it starts with 'p'.

I'm excited about life.

I see a lot of beautiful sunsets out my bedroom window and out the balcony off my kitchen. My photos never seem to turn out, but I love looking out my window and seeing how the trees' silhouettes have changed as we move deeper into fall. Somehow, there are leaves all over the ground beneath my building, although I thought we would have run out by now.
I took this picture while I was waiting for my train in Frankfurt, on the way home from visiting my aunt. That train was full of people headed to Basel and if I hadn't had a seat reservation, I would have stood for two hours. As it was, I was stuck in a corner with my purse, dictionary, and articles on ethnicity and the situation of minorities in Europa. All I wanted to do was go to sleep.
On the way to Aschaffenburg the Thursday before, I let myself read a book. It's the first German novel I've read, and I picked it out with no prior knowledge, but it's perfect. I can understand almost everything that happens, even understand what the woman with the East Berlin accent says. I'm exaggerating now, because her accent isn't that strange. But sitting down on the S-Bahn and reading several pages in the ten or fifteen minutes home is one of the best feelings.
Last night, I was almost late for the S-Bahn I needed, and forgot my book in the rush. After the movie I saw with my language tandem partner and her friends, all I had to do was think on the way home. About how lucky I am to have such a friendly tandem partner and how surprised I was that I understood a French comedy dubbed into German, with a large part of the humor based on the dialect. About whether or not I should compare the performance of Frühlings Erwachen to the original text in my essay, and how cool it would be to make more sense of the adaptation we saw on Monday.
When I got home, I started IMing my friends in German. Unfortunately, only one of them could understand me. For a few minutes, I struggled to stick to English for Ali, and German for Maraia. In the end it was all English, of course. Today I mainly concerned myself with money and cute bunny pictures and avoiding my homework, and when I skyped with my mom and she asked if I'm speaking a lot of German, I had to admit that I'm not. But I'm pretty sure that will come.

Schicksalstag = Day of Fate

I was aware that the ninth of November was an important date in Germany. I was at my aunt's in Aschaffenburg for All Saints Day, which is an official holiday in Baden-Württemberg (where I live) and Bavaria (where I was), as well as in many other Staaten. Traditionally, every family goes to the cemetery and stands at the graves of their relatives while mass is held at the chapel. These days it's projected on loudspeakers. I missed out on this, but we did visit the graves of my aunt's wife's grandparents, and my aunt mentioned that November 9th is also a day of remembrance.

When Maraia reminded me that it was November 9th last Sunday, I couldn't remember what that meant. Naturally, I went to Wikipedia and started scrolling through the events, looking for German ones. The first I saw was Nov. 9, 1989: the day the Berlin Wall was opened. Der Mauerfall (Mauer = wall). But I was astonished by how many other important things happened on this date.

Nov. 9, 1848 is considered the end of the 1848 Revolution. Robert Blum, a German politician, was executed for his participation in the fight for a democratic government. Fifty years later—Nov. 9, 1918—the Weimarer Republik, Germany's first attempt at democracy, was established.

Nov. 9, 1923 is the day of Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, when he and other members of the Kampfbund (Fighting Society), inspired by Mussolini's March on Rome, attempted to overthrow the Weimarer Republik. It was during the following prison sentence that Hitler wrote Mein Kampf. Nov. 9, 1925 saw the founding of the SS (Schutzstaffel = Protective Squadron). It was originally established as a personal guard for Hitler, but later was given much more power, including control of the concentration camps.

Maraia had been reminding me of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, which is what this date is commemorated for. "Reichskristallnacht" was the Nazis' euphemism; now, it is more appropriately known as Reichspogromnacht or Novemberpogrom, at least in German. Germany doesn't celebrate the Fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th of November because of the pogrom that took place on this night. Jews were arrested, deported to concentration camps, murdered. Synagogues were burned, homes and businesses destroyed. This is said to be the beginning of Hitler's systematic eradication of the Jews.

Because so many important events took place on this date, Nov. 9th is known as Germany's Schicksalstag—its day of fate. And if these weren't enough, here are a few that aren't connected to German political history:

1494: the Medici become rulers of Florence
1620: the Mayflower sights land at Cape Cod, Massachusetts
1799: Napoleon leads the coup d'état that ends the Directory government and becomes First Consul of France
1917: Stalin enters the USSR's provisional government
1921: Einstein receives the Nobel Prize in Physics

Apparently, Nov. 9th is World Freedom Day in the US. To commemorate the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Weird. (November 9 on Wikipedia.) Since the Mauerfall isn't celebrated, even though it would be cool to celebrate the reunification on the same day as the first Republic was founded, the holiday is Oct. 3rd, der Tag der Deutschen Einheit (Day of German Unity). This was the date of the formal reunification (Wiedervereinigung).

Yesterday, Maraia and I were working on our presentation for our German history class and typing in many dates, including Kristallnacht. In the German format, it's 9.11.1938. No big deal. But if we wanted to make a conspiracy theory, it would involve 11/9 and 9/11.

Sieg = Victory

The past two nights I've slept a total of seven hours...that's seven hours out of fifty-one or so. Sunday night wasn't too great, either. Procrastinating my homework on the nights before was dumb, but when I went to bed at 7 am this morning—and even when I woke up two hours later and had to get ready for class—I didn't regret the long night at all.

In my timezone, the first polls didn't close until midnight, but I wanted to see the night unfold. When I would periodically register what time it was (4 am, 5:30 am, 6 am), I was simply surprised at how fast the time had went. My brain didn't start to shut down and head toward zombie-mode and I didn't feel drawn to bed. For a while, it was just Maraia, me, and one of Maraia's German roommates, intently watching a German news station. Occasionally we would clarify something for him, but most of the time he knew what was going on as well as we did. We laughed when interviews with Americans were played at the same time as the interpreter's voice and you couldn't really understand either one. Maybe Maraia's roommate could, but we couldn't really process the German, despite its being louder, because segments in English would filter through and distract us.

Eventually we switched to CNN for more detailed coverage of individual states and maybe to feel more like we were part of what was going on at home. When the west coast polls closed and CNN called California, Oregon, and Washington even though 0% had been reported, I laughed. But it made sense. Then Andrew opened the Rotkäppchen (a type of Sekt, which is champagne that comes out of Germany instead of Champagne; it's named after Little Red Riding Hood) and there was a resounding pop and Sekt on his pants and a mark on the ceiling and we laughed a little crazily and I hoped we weren't waking the sleeping roommates. But I figured they'd understand if we did. They wanted this almost as much as we did, even if the election didn't hold the same emotional weight and pride for them as it did for us.

After Obama's speech the fatigue hit. We had to clean up the living room and set an alarm so we would make it to class in three and a half hours. But that was perfectly all right with me, because I don't feel ashamed of my country anymore—a feeling that is particularly strong when living abroad. America's future has become extremely exciting.