Zweiohrküken = Two-Eared Chick(en)

Today, Emma was looking up Inglourious Basterds and things and ended up reminding me of the films Keinohrhasen (commonly translated as "Rabbit Without Ears", but I think "No-Ear Rabbit" sounds better 'cause it's more like a name) and Zweiohrküken, which are German romantic comedies starring, co-written and produced by Til Schweiger. (On a side note, I still need to see Inglourious Basterds.) I saw the first one, Keinohrhasen, in which Til Schweiger's character finds himself working at a kindergarten to fulfill his sentence for crashing some party/event/whatever because of his job at a tabloid. He can't sew and ends up making an adorable rabbit without ears. And, you know, love story. It's funny, and cute, and I really like Nora Tschirner's glasses on her (it's apparently impossible to find any other photo than this one, but pay attention in the video), but the best part is the teaser video for its sequel, Zweiohrküken.

You don't need to know German. It's adorable no matter what. Just watch it.

The movie has since come out, and there's a trailer that actually gives a plot outline, but this video is just so good. The golden light. The music. The comforting setting and sewing-machine. The narration. The darling, darling Emma Tiger Schweiger, Til Schweiger's daughter, who plays the cute little girl asking about Til Schweiger's newest creation, is unbelievably cute.

Okay, you want to know what's going on? I'm going to skip some parts, because some things are repetitive or hard to understand for English-speaking me. And I bet it's more enjoyable just to watch their smiles than to read.

Adorable child/Cheyenne-Blue: What's that supposed to be?
Nora Tschirner/Anna: It looks like a jaundiced, floppy-eared pot-bellied pig.
Til Schweiger/Ludo: This is No-ear Rabbit's new friend[...] Two-eared Chicken[...]
Cheyenne-Blue: But chickens don't have ears.
Ludo: They do as of now.
Cheyenne-Blue: But why does the chicken have ears?
Anna: Because Ludo can't sew.
Ludo: She has ears because she wished them there.
Cheyenne-Blue: But why did she wish them there?
Ludo: Because she wanted to fly so badly.
Cheyenne-Blue: She can fly with her ears?
Ludo: Mmhm. But only at wind speeds of four to five, and when the wind's coming from the northwest. She stands here like this and waits for the wind, it comes from behind and goes under her ears, and she can take off like an airplane and fly around the whole world. From up there, she can see everything perfectly. She's been to Turkey, to Antarctica, the Lüneburger Heide—once, she was even behind the moon.
Cheyenne-Blue: And the ears grew just because she wished them there?
Ludo: When you really wish something, when you firmly believe that it will come true, then it happens.

Thanks to Nico for help with some particularly difficult lines. Maybe being obsessed with linguistics helps you hear better.

Is Scrabble or the history of Inner Asia more exciting?

Why does blogging have to be so hard? And writing in general. I really don't want to write a response paper—no matter how puny—to the excerpt I read from The Baburnama, the autobiography of Babur, the steppe nomad descended from both Timur (Tamerlane) and Chingis Khan who started the Mughal Empire in India. It was interesting, but thinking is hard, especially when you have no idea who all the characters are, or really why Babur would rather be in Kabul than in Khurasan in the first place. (I guess it's because they need to overthrow some rebels in Kabul for some reason.)

The main thing I took away from the reading was that this excerpt from The Baburnama really wanted me to watch The Fellowship of the Ring: there's this part where they follow Qasim Beg's or someone's advice, which Babur points out is bad, and take the mountain pass in the dead of winter instead of going the longer, lowland route. It's just like when Aragorn leads the fellowship up the mountain Caradhras and then they are blessed with a blizzard. Except in Fellowship, well, they can't get over the mountain, then BAD THINGS. In The Baburnama, they find some "vagabonds" on the other side and gain a number of sheep and captives. In any case, I don't think this response is quite academic enough for my half-grad-student Literature of the Turks class, even if half the class is still only 3.5 people.

What I was going to say, before I remembered that Lord of the Rings comparisons are one of my favorite things, was that I don't feel like I have time to think on weekdays during the semester—so how can I write? I have a list of ideas, but they require time to get right. Anecdotes are easy, but on average, not that exciting. Yesterday's high point was winning a game of internet Scrabble against Cooper. It did involve a gamble to set up the perfect place for my 'z' tile, and the gamble failed, but I still won...but you know, Scrabble, blow-by-blow, is exceedingly dull.

Newsflash: Sleep Is Important

I was looking for an important document I'd misplaced and, having exhausted the logical places, decided to check the box of fairly-organized folders and extra notebooks and paper that's been a tiny archive since I moved out of the house in Ann Arbor to go to Deutschland. There was no way the letter would be in this box, since it came in the mail before I moved back to America, but, you know. Despair. Nowhere else to look.

Anyway, I came across some lists I'd made in the past that seem to become funnier every time I read them. First we have three sheets of blue "inter-correspondence paper" from MichCon, which my family inherited from my dad's office back...who knows, it was when he still worked. Fifteen or so years later, there's at least one coveted little stack left. It's still my mom's favorite paper for lists and, during the summer of 2007, it was the paper on which I tried to pull my life together. I kept a series of lists on my master clipboard. The "TO DO" list is bleak: I didn't exactly make practicing piano or my Gaelic harp a habit again in the years after high school, nor did I put air in my bike tires until the following summer. I did, however, finally take up flossing my teeth in Germany and have plucked my eyebrows half-heartedly a number of times since the list was written.

In spite of having essentially no income that summer, I also had a "WANT" list. I got only a fraction of what I wanted (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a sofa bed, and sheets for said sofa bed) and in the intervening years have failed to buy any of the other items. Oh well, Grease on DVD, I guess I've survived without you. More interesting is the "DON'T NEED" (more of) list. As in, come on, Marisa, save your nonexistent money for things you actually need. There's a handy "ALLOWED" list for the coming winter as well. Unlike the components of the "WANT" list, I've acquired some of everything on the "DON'T NEED" list, aside from pajama pants, which I really do need these days. "Tight clothing, short tops" is debatable...I would at least like to think I've avoided the "uncomfortable and unseemly" ones mentioned on my list. Forbidden items of note:

PAJAMAS – WAY, WAY TOO MANY SHIRTS. A LOT OF PANTS. (May I add that my pajama shirts are sports t-shirts from elementary and middle school and the pajama pants were like 3 years old at that point? Now they're ripped and...unseemly.)

SOCKS – THEY ARE SO BEAUTIFUL I NEVER THROW THEM OUT. (But not getting new ones is unthinkable.)

MORE CATS – ISABEL AND MR. PEPYS CREATE ENOUGH FUR. (Then Emma adopted cats when we moved out of the dorms. So far it's one per year. Maybe grey and black will be joined by white this year?)

When I think about how it's January 2010 and I wrote the list in probably June 2007—well, first I start freaking out about the velocity of time but then I remember that wardrobe needs do in fact change over the years and you can't expect your clothes to just last forever. But it's still funny how good I am at buying and being given the things I "DON'T NEED." One of my aunts has given me two black velvet dresses in the past two years. I need to start dating rich men with functions to go to so I can put them to use outside the living room.

I also found a motivational list of "Things to Remember" from November of freshman year of college. It includes the funniest piece of advice I've ever given myself: "sleep is important, it's okay." 'Okay' is triple-underlined.

I really took that lesson to heart.

Our Little Monster

Today I was going to go run on an elliptical after class but I was too hungry despite bringing a peanut butter sandwich to campus, so I went home to eat lunch. I had bacon and scrambled eggs. Since then, I've eaten something like five and a half brownies. Eughhh. Concentrating on anything is a bit difficult.
It doesn't help that I spent the last ten to fifteen minutes trying to protect poor, relaxing Table Cat from not-so-little Haroun's relentless attacks.
Table Cat: What? Why? Dumb.
Haroun: What is this clicky thing you are holding? Wait I'm going to attack Table Cat more.
Table Cat: Flash? Really?
The victorious little brat, who scampered off when I went downstairs to get a glass of water. Table Cat came back, made sure Haroun was gone, and curled right back up. I could hear Haroun jingling on the stairs so I shut him out of my room.
Then I fought with Blogger, the internet, and my computer for an hour and a half to get the pictures up. Table Cat's really asleep now, and I should be too. Goodnight.
P.S. If you were involved in a snoutiness of the kitten discussion, enlarge the second-to-last photo and observe the baby's nose. It (if not his snout) is changing proportion and becoming wider. It's only really noticeable in photographs, though. Emma exaggerates.

Where to Go This Year

The New York Times Travel section has another great article: The 31 Places to Go in 2010. I was already well aware of the general irrelevance of the travel section to my life (as if $250/day would be at all thinkable, let alone the budget option for me), but I can't stop reading it. Even if luxury hotels and, well, basically every restaurant they will ever recommend are out of the question and not even that interesting to me, I still like to read about faraway and not-so-faraway places and look at the photos.

There was an interesting article about visiting Cairo during Ramadan recently, about how lively the city becomes after nightfall, when the fasting of daylight is finally broken. The author didn't address how she was a single woman traveling in Egypt, which I hear can be problematic, but maybe that means it's not as bad as we think? She also didn't mention the Mamluks, the elite corps of manumitted slave soldiers who ruled Egypt and Syria under a puppet Sultan from from 1250-1517, when they fell to the Ottomans. One of my Islamic history professors told the class that the Mamluk architecture is the most interesting thing to see in Cairo, even though everyone wants to see the Ancient Egyptian sites. Not that Cairo is an ancient city; it was built by the Fatimids starting in 969, the year they finally conquered Egypt from the Abbasids.

Now we are way, way off topic and I'm busy being a showoff who secretly (no longer secretly) has to check most of her dates on Wikipedia because the final exam was a few weeks ago. But 969 CE is one I'm going to remember.

Anyway, I like to read the top destinations as listed by the New York Times every year because sometimes I'm going to them, and lists are fun, and why not? For 2008, I think they listed Munich, and that's the year I went to Munich and Germany for the first time. It also included Detroit, which I may have visited a few times... Then, 2009 included Vienna and Cuba and Stockholm and "a Pennsylvania farm," which was pretty funny. I went to Vienna, and a few of the other European locations probably, but unfortunately not Stockholm. This year's is funny because there are three destinations in a row that are introduced as "the next [something else]."

"Koh Kood. Is this the next Koh Samui?" (Islands off Thailand.)
"Damascus. The next Marrakesh?" (Syria. I want to go to Damascus! It was the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate; Baghdad wasn't built until the Abbasids.)
"Cesme. The next Bodrum?" (That's Turkey. I desperately want to go to Turkey. The Bosporous! The Byzantines! The Black Sea!)

I don't even know what Koh Samui or Bodrum are. Great comparisons. Maybe they should be a little more descriptive and a little less lazy. They go on to recommend the original Marrakesh as well. Istanbul's on the list—it's one of the European Capitals of Culture this year. They also like to list places that are obvious, like Costa Rica...already on the radar of the eco-tourist or whatever.

There are no locations on the list I'm likely to visit this year. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Breckenridge, CO are the only three US destinations. If I achieved my biggest travel wish for the year, the one that has next to no chance of happening but is not unthinkable, I could end up in any one of those cities. What I really want to do is to take the summer and just drive, drive, drive. Especially westward, although the south is almost equally compelling. Barring a night at Circus Circus in Las Vegas during a plane layover, the farthest south I've ever been is Athens, OH. I've wanted to go back to California ever since my dad, brother and I visited my aunt and uncle in Northern California in 2000. But there are several problems with the lengthy road trip idea. One, I don't really like driving all that much. Two, I'd need one or more someones to go with me. Three, I need to make money, not put it all into gas. Four, the '94 Honda Accord I currently drive has no air conditioning, so it would be hard to find someone to go with me and if I did, we would probably die in the middle of a desert or something.

Nevertheless, I can't shake this roadtrip from my mind. In ninth grade, my three best friends and I planned out a loose route for a post-high-school roadtrip around the entire country. We'd stop and visit most of our long-distance relatives: Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York (upstate and city), Connecticut, New Orleans, California. We'd try to see as much of the country as possible in between, while driving Rachel's parents' old minivan, complete with the "Outfox Rabies" bumper sticker dating from the years they lived in Texas. The trip never happened, but the dream lives on. If only I could round up a lot of cash and convince one friend to ditch her relaxed family vacation, another to give up the idea of working, and the last to not go to Poland.

Here are the places I seriously hope to go this year:

1. Lake Michigan.
I haven't been to Lake Michigan since 2000, and that was just one afternoon, because our week-long rental in Petoskey turned out to be a piece of shit and we left after one night. We usually go to Lake Huron, but it's been a while. And summer isn't really summer without the Great Lakes.

2. Rochester, NY.
My mom's sister lives in Rochester, and for a few years, we visited her for a week in the summer with my cousins. Afternoons spent on the beach of Lake Ontario (though you had to call ahead to see if the water was safe that day), playing with really old Barbies in the attic—a real attic!, walking behind waterfalls. I haven't been there since eleventh grade, and that was only one night on the way to visit colleges in NYC. Since my grandpa died, my aunt spends less time in Michigan and it's with her son's family, so we don't see her much. It's high time to go to New York.

3. New York City would be nice too.

4. Rhode Island.
My friend Rachel's family moved to Rhode Island at the end of the summer. I've never been there. Naturally, I should visit over the summer and see them and the ocean and exciting!!

5. Arizona.
It's probably as unlikely as the road trip west, but I want my family to take our first vacation in about a decade and fly to Arizona, all four of us, during U of M's "spring" break at the beginning of March. One of my uncles and his wife have homes there: a trailer in Mesa, where my grandparents also liked to spend their winters, and a house in the mountains. I've been dying to go to a desert since I was fourteen.

6. Munich.
I just really miss visiting our family friends there, enough to put this on the realistic list even though it isn't. Munich in late spring was perfect.

This Blog Goes 2.0 in 2010

(By which I mean, its focus on study abroad in Germany has flown the coop for good. And it gets a hilarious title bar.)

It's over four months since I returned to the States from Germany. I guess the tag line of my blog—Being brave and facing life in Germany (and in general)—is no longer completely fitting. Or my life is heavy on the 'in general.'

In that spirit, how about an overview of fall 2009? I went back to normal school, where we sometimes spend too much time in class and the crazy hours of the night working because we actually have homework. I learned about Islamic history, read about Berlin, and translated part of a German novel. I returned to French. The semester was overwhelming and often frantic, but it was rewarding as well. I learned a lot and was more proud of the work I did than ever before, despite an overabundance of unnecessary assignments. Procrastination is more fun at home in Michigan, because misery loves company and we were a household of six, plus two cats and a fish. Often, at least three of us raced (or simply disregarded) deadlines late into the night. The company may not have helped our productivity, but it was fun, and the biggest thing I was missing in my WG in Germany. A Wohngemeinschaft is an apartment-sharing community, but my Wohngemeinschaft was short on the Gemeinschaft (community), as I'm sure I've written in the past.
Although I was happy to come home, and Ann Arbor and my friends here hadn't changed too much, this community is less cohesive than it was the summer before I went to Germany. Friendships have waxed and waned over the course of college, and they've become even more fragmented in the last weeks, as people start to move away. Graduation and the threat (or promise) of real life is looming—just four short months away.

Let's not talk about that right now, okay? Let's talk about something else. I'm still behind on uploading my photos; I'm almost done with Ireland, which brings us to mid-April 2009. Our internet has reached an unprecedented level of terrible in the past few days, so my goal of catching up before Christmas break ends will be hard to reach. But that's what I want to do: catch up and get ahead. It's 2010, after all. The future is upon us! Sometimes I want to reminisce about my year in Europe and cover the things I never wrote about while I was there, but now doesn't feel like the time. At the same time, looking to the future involves looking to the past. What worked about study abroad? What about Europe worked for me, and what didn't? Was it connected to the place, the people, or the entire situation? What parts of college failed, what has been good? And what what what does this all mean for what I want to do and where I want to go? (Not talking about post-graduation is actually impossible.)
In the end, what I need to do is take the time to think and write and reflect about everything. Not just dash down the same things I always say. "How was Germany?" "It was long," I like to say, "but fun." You have to condense it, especially since most people probably don't care that much, but that year of my life is more than one sentence. And it's more than the feelings of the last few months in Germany and the exhaustion of travel and the stress of term papers and the frustration of learning little thoroughly and staying up way too late and trains and photos and—well, I don't think I can attach the same significance to the year in Europe as so many of my friends do. I wanted it to mean everything, but I unsurprisingly failed to reach my expectations. I agree with what one friend said: "Germany's like America, except the people speak German." There are differences, of course, but they're not earth-shattering. I don't like to fake enthusiasm. At the same time, I'm sick of being so blasé, so I want to think it all through again—but I don't know that it will change anything.
I was going to change the title of this blog, because I'm not traveling all the time anymore. I'm not a wandering vagabond, and I'm not homeless yet, either. But my current address does expire within four months, and unless the worst happens and I opt for my permanent address, I should be on the move again soon. So I'll keep der Landstreicher for now, and of course I'll keep laughing in my head about how you'll need this for when the Prussians come. I don't know that my ambivalence toward Freiburg rules out a return to Europe, and I don't know that loving my friends means staying within driving distance or even the Verizon network. I don't know that a German major means returning to Europe, either.

Somewhere along the way, though, something had better mean something. So here's to a renewed effort at being brave and facing life, in general, and to finding the specific to juxtapose with the general.

1. Road trips are great!
2. What traveling Europe looks like, part 1.
3. What traveling Europe looks like, part 2.