rolling with the haters, and begging for feedback or questions

on the road to Renée and Ken Fowler’s ranch outside of Llano, Texas right after the memorial for my mother Martha Frances with my wife Miriam and the #progeny off camera (mit Absicht)

While not getting too specific about who it was who irritated me the other day, while I was doing this roku account on twitter, I’d like talk about criticism and how I’ve chosen to use social media. To be clear, I’m neither a good American nor a well-integrated German visitor. Other expats or immigrants or whatever you want to call those of us who’ve moved to Germany and chosen to make a life here, seem to have accepted things about living here that still make me bristle.

Oh, and I see that one who offers unwarranted criticism, that’s offered as helpful or thoughtful, but is more likely a backwards and passive aggressive attempt at a Besserwisser (know-it-all) feeling better about one’s own situation and/or life, should perhaps look into therapy or grow a thicker skin before logging on.

They’re what the kids, or at least the Millennials, would call ‘haters‘, and I pay them as little mind as I can manage. It’s a good way to deal with criticism online. You’ll certainly face some, or a lot of it, the longer that you work or play in the digital realm.

The most important thing to know about me on this subject of using social media is that I think of myself as two Americans mixed up in one complicated ex-pat. My family moved from West Texas after my birth to Munich, which curiously makes Bavaria my second, or adopted, home.

Then we unfortunately went back to Texas, and this time in the southeast part of the state along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to the then fifth largest city in the United States. The City of Houston was still a cow town upon our arrival, and the annual Livestock Show and Rodeo was just one reminder that this place wasn’t like Munich or Zürich or even London, which were places I’d seen with my young, impressionable eyes.

My relationship with Germany wasn’t complicated then, as I was a mere child and all of my frustrations with mid 70s metropolitan Houston were easily written off by my thoughts that, ‘One day I can leave this humid, depressing place and go back to Germany‘, which was a sort of Garden of Eden. That was how I saw Munich or Bavaria in the early 70s, and that option of ‘going back home’ was always, or at least often, part of my fantasy.

What wasn’t to love, by the way? It was a colourful and beautiful city, my parents were casual drug users and drank a lot of beer. As a result, it was easier to live in the liberal, relatively open-minded capital of Bavaria than it had been to live in the dry (alcohol-free), desert-like metropolis of Lubbock. On the high prairie in the part of Texas that you think of if you’ve watched John Wayne movies, or that Rock Hudson/Elizabeth Taylor/James Dean film Giant, my family felt more free outside of the ‘Land of the Free’, which is still my perspective of when I think of West Texas.

I’ve got a complicated relationship with both the word ‘freedom’, as well as the whole concept of ‘The American Dream‘, but this isn’t therapy. I’ll just share this generally, and depending on what feedback I get from this post, I could imagine writing more about those things at some point in the future. If you want to read more about my perspective on either of these things, the proverbial ball’s in your court. You’ve got to get off of your arse and say so in the comments.

To wrap up my point here, though.

My writing always has my clients in mind. While I do it in quite an Anglo-American manner, it’s purposeful that I’ve chosen not to blog or use social media the ‘German Way‘. Again, I’ll go deeper into how different cultures use online platforms and the intercultural differences at a later date.

Interested? You know what to do.

Make a comment below, rather than on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’ve started the conversation and you, my readers, have more influence than you realise.

Say something.

What about this post or any other interests you?

More importantly what have I written that you want to know more about?

Show me you’re here and reading my scribblings, would you? I see the metrics, so I know you’re lurking.

Do me a favour and help me build an audience by saying what you’d like to see more of.

Please.

Pretty please.

Manly in Landshut

Outside the Männer Laden early morning in Landshut

Every Tuesday, I’ve got a teaching gig in one of my favourite places in Bavaria, hell all of Germany.

Whether it’s their infamous Landshuter Hochzeit (wedding) or the Burg Trausnitz (Trausnitz castle), this place is content gold.

Expect many more posts from this beautiful small city about an hour or so northwest of my home in Munich.

You can’t wait, can you?

Let me know in the comments below what you’d like to know about this super cool place. Or if you’ve already been to Landshut and already know if its charm, tell us that instead. Please.

Get your English back to where it was…easy peasy!

Uncle B.K. and Brother Michael blowing out the latter’s 2nd birthday candle

If you’re a grandparent and one of your children has married outside of your culture, whatever that might mean, you’ve got some work cut out for you. Your daughter or son might not realise, or likely doesn’t care, that you’ve been gifted more than just grandchildren.

No, now you’ve got an intercultural dilemma in the making.

How are you going to be a decent grandparent to these kids who might not have any clue where you come from and how it was when you were their age? Luckily, you’ve already figured your life out, right? So you can impart a little wisdom.

Like my Nana did. She’s featured in the photo above and she was a piece of work, my maternal grandmother. An enigma when I was small, Nana was always chainsmoking and funnier for us, she swore like a sailor. She made zero attempts to suffer fools gladly.

It simply wasn’t her way.

Not even us grandkids.

Especially not us.

Born in the 1920s, Frances was part of what’s referred to in the United States as the ‘Greatest Generation‘, which nearly always makes me smile nostalgically. She’s here in the photo, with my mom and my brother and I there, as well. She’d married a Methodist minister, my grandfather who we called ‘Dan Dan’, during the war, and they started having children in 1946. Right at the start of the first wave of the Baby Boom.

Since they were the greatest, they couldn’t understand why their kids couldn’t more appreciate all they’d left for them. This might be a bit of an exaggeration, but my grandparents generation felt like they’d saved the world from fascism only to be handed a society now run by dirty hippies and drug addicts.

How does this relate to you learning enough English so you can communicate with your own little carpet munchers? Maybe you already understand and even speak English when you travel, and you’d just like to practise a bit.

Well, that’s what I do. I help some of my clients get acclimated to their new culture, even if they’re still living comfortably at home. You don’t necessarily have to learn how to navigate a new culture. If this is you we’re talking about, my solution is easy. I’ll be writing more about my ideas here on my blog in the coming months.

You needn’t become perfect in English, okay? Just good enough to talk to your own progeny. Your grandkids will give you a lot of latitude.

Promise.

Reach out to me via email (lahikmajoe@gmail.com) or make a comment on this blogpost if you’ve got any questions or want me to focus on some aspect of these issues.

We’ll get your English back to where it used to be. Easy peasy!

Stealing from little baby Jesus

This is only a baby elf, but he looks malleable enough — Jesus should be even better

So is he coming, or isn’t he? Kids around the world, well the Christian &/or western world I should say, are wondering if & hoping that St. Nick makes an appearance tonight. Even in northern Germany, the little ones are waiting for the Weihnachtsmann (Christmas man, literally).

He purportedly comes early enough on Xmas Eve that the kiddos in that neck of the woods can open all their gifts sometime this afternoon/evening. This is all hearsay, though. I’ve neither had children in northern Germany nor been a child there. Here in Bavaria, though, I know the drill. It’s not the Christmas man here, but instead the Christkind (Christ child) hauls all that loot to the little boys & girls. Please don’t ask me to judge this complete hogwash. I’m sorry, but I’ve got a hard enough time with the whole St. Nicolas scenario. Even if he manages Germany in the afternoon here, he can’t get to the rest of the Christian world in one night.

The little baby Jesus, on the other hand. Now that’s plausible. I’m with Ricky Bobby on this one. When I pray, I turn to the infant 👶 in swaddling clothes. I look at my baby in her childlike innocence & I think, ‘It’s gonna be a lot easier to get this one to give me cool stuff than it would’ve been with that grumpy old Santa geezer.’

Our baby is easily distracted, so I assume the deity in his smallest person form would be a piece of cake to bamboozle. This is a great idea. The more I think about it, I think this might be the best Christmas EVAH!

I’ll let you know how it goes with my Christkind heist.

A dropped phone can’t slow me down, well not for long

 

this isn’t my phone- I didnt have the foresight to take a photo of my spiderweb screen until it was too late

Recently came across the term ‘nomophobia‘ and it couldn’t have entered my vocabulary at a more opportune moment. That feeling when you’ve made it out the door, but something just isn’t quite right. You know you must’ve forgotten something, yet you just can’t put your finger on it. Then suddenly you realise, ‘Where’s my phone?

That’s what nomophobia is: no + mo(bile) + phobia. Fear of not having your mobile phone. Some of you are predictably thinking,  ‘Has it really come to this?‘ The easy answer is yes. Yes, it has.

On that note, I have a story for you. For quite a few, it won’t sound like all that big a deal. I’m already predicting rolling of the eyes and poorly stifled sighs. Say what you want, for me it was a horror story. One moment everything was fine. It was a beautiful sunny day in Bavaria, and I was walking through the streets with a spring in my step.

Somehow it was almost cinematic the way it unfolded. Wish I could say a black cloud darkened the sky or a menacing bird entered the frame, but in reality there was nothing that could have foretold what would happen next. Instead it was a film in which the absence of trouble made you all the more uncomfortable.

Now that I look back on it, I can say something was definitely about to happen, but that’s unquestionably a matter of seeing it in retrospect. Instead, it came out of nowhere. One minute I had my phone in my hand, and suddenly time slowed to a crawl. As if a scene that could only have been created with CGI effects, I could see my phone with its pristine screen fly out of my hands and take on a life of its own.

Through the air it flew, the music swelled to a crescendo and then BAM. It slammed to the ground and right at that moment time returned to normal. The screen was covered in a spiderweb of cracked glass. There was no amount of wishing that was going to turn time back and make this one right again. If it was a car, you’d say it was totalled. The screen, at least. The phone itself seemed fine.

Luckily, there’s a place in downtown Munich that replaces phone screens while you wait. Yet that’s where the second part of the horror story comes in. The woman at the shop said I’d have to be without my phone for an hour and a half. No sweat, right? Easier said than done.
Another exercise in the fluidity of time occurred at this point. I stumbled out into the late afternoon sunlight and looked ahead at the vast expanse of time in which I’d have to interact with the world in analog. Just me and the street and all its goings on. I had a camera in my bag, but what use was that to me if I couldn’t immediately share the photo on just one of a variety of platforms? Wish I could say that was a rhetorical question, but it was a genuine conundrum in that moment.

Self reflective, I could certainly chuckle at myself and think back to a time when most of us weren’t carrying mini computers in our pockets. As easily as I could laugh at myself, it was still quite an uncomfortable position to be in. The hands on the clock of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) at the Marienplatz were barely moving as the tourists stared up oblivious to my plight.

It’d been only ten minutes since I’d left the repair shop, but I was tempted to ask a Japanese woman with a selfie stick if I could commandeer her phone for a few moments. This was ridiculous. Calmly, I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that I could get through this.

Remembering countless inspirational talks about the reframing of a seemingly overwhelming situation, I resolved to see this as a unique opportunity. Free of my shackles, from this new perspective I could savour a newfound independence. For a little more than an hour, my time was all mine. No one could interrupt my thoughts or demand my time.

All of a sudden, I was like one of those ‘simplify your life‘ articles in which my existence was magically transformed by simply eschewing some form of technology that made the rest of us slaves to the machine. Looking ahead, I imagined writing this text about the myriad inspirations and epiphanies I would encounter in this new caveman life in which I was immersed.

I wish I could say that my visions sped up time or made all of it more bearable. Sadly, it wasn’t the case. Some time in a nice café with a copy of the local paper, which kept me wonderful company, was my saving grace. Oh, and the last thing I did before relinquishing my mobile to the screen doctors who calmed me by assuring they’d ‘make it all better’ was to text a friend where I was going to be for the next hour or so.

She met me there, I set the paper down, we looked into each other’s eyes like people in old movies used to do and then we had a conversation. Just like that. It was pure decadence.

This isn’t a horror story, after all. Got the phone back, of course, and sent a few messages assuring folk that I was still among the living. Happy ending, right? Well, more than you might think. A few times since then, I’ve just left the phone at home.

Can’t you just see me? Walking in the park with the dogs? Like a genuine person. Somehow I think the Information Superhighway will survive me taking the off ramp more regularly. Believe it or not, I can’t wait.

How did the American get on the roof of the toilet?

 

one of our local papers this morning
 
This blog has been only about refugees lately, and as much as I’m still obsessed with the topic (more on that another time), there’s so much else going on. Other things need to be dealt with. And quickly. 

For example: people climbing objects in public & standing on said objects. Like in the photo above. 

The headline reads: ‘How did the American get on the roof of the toilet?

My strong suspicion is that he climbed up there. The question they probably wanted to ask was: What on earth was he thinking when he decided to scale the toilet inside the tent at the Oktoberfest? Why indeed. 

Good question. 

It is the Oktoberfest. There are plenty of similar stories during these two weeks. 

The curious thing is this isn’t the only instance of something like this happening these days. Not just in Munich & not just during this exceptional time of year.

While scrolling through my feed on a social media site, which I choose not to mention by name, I saw a photo of a rather curvaceous woman naked from the waist down standing on a pay phone with multiple police officers below apparently trying to coax her to come down. 

Despite the outlandishness of the visual, my immediate reaction was, ‘Where did they find a pay phone? I’ve not seen one of those in ages.

Once I got over that shock, I could move on to the more pressing question. Specifically, why are people climbing atop such objects?

Is this part of the Zeitgeist & I missed the memo? Should I be climbing on things & belligerently refusing to come down? That’d certainly make this blog more entertaining at the very least. 

I’m not going to include the image here of the woman I’ve mentioned. Nevertheless, I’m confident if you type ‘naked woman on top of pay phone‘, you’ll locate it rather easily. But you should probably do that soon. My suspicion is the web is going to be flooded with this stuff before you know it. 

Unterwegs with plenty I should be doing otherwise

20140708-093658-34618069.jpg

The FilmfestMünchen is thankfully behind us. It’s the only week of the year where we can see a variety of independent film and even some not-yet-released-in-Europe bigger movies; however, the way I do it involves quite a lot of screenings. My eyes may or may not be rectangular, as a result.

There are still reviews to write and other projects in the pipeline, but I got a call from a good friend who’s visiting from the States. On her way back home tomorrow, the only way I was going to see her was to hop a train to Passau for the day.

What about my dogs Ella and Louis? Well, they’ve been riding the train since they were pups. This is almost second nature for them.

Ooh, here’s a photo I took of them a few years ago in Passau.

20140708-094658-35218861.jpg

Passau is a gorgeous smaller Bavarian city on the Austrian border and not far from the Czech Republic. It was actually one of the first places I took the dogs after bringing them home from Hamburg.

Although Germans know about this gem of a city, I rarely see any English-speaking tourists there. Perhaps someone writing in English should be talking more about it. Someone who knows a bit about Bavaria and enjoys writing about all that’s going on there.

I wonder who that could be.

elements await me

an earlier snow in Munich Lehel
an earlier snow in Munich Lehel

Looked out the window a little while ago, and it was actually snowing. The past few weeks have been unseasonably mild in Bavaria. When it’s been wet, everything’s gotten rather soggy.

While I’m always happy to see a bit of the white stuff falling from the sky, this fresh snowfall has made me particularly happy.

Everything feels somehow more peaceful in newly-fallen snow. My schedule is relatively light today, so right now I can take a walk through the park. When I get through with one more appointment in about an hour, I’ll hurry to pick up Ella and Louis (my sister and brother Vizslas that most of you know) and we’ll go for a long, stress-free walk along the Isar River that runs swiftly through Munich.

Plenty more to tell you, but it’ll have to wait for another time. The elements await me, after all.

early morning on the Reeperbahn

Early morning at the Michel on the way to Fischmarkt.

We’re going to the Fischmarkt in Hamburg, baby. What’s that? Well, it’s actually a blogpost for another day. This is the Reeperbahn on the way to the Fischmarkt.

A Bavarian-style ad on the Reeperbahn.

This is completely out of place in Hamburg. Bavaria might be in Germany, but it and Hamburg are polar opposites in so many ways. I’ll write more about this at some point. It’s really remarkable how different the cool, detached Northeners are in contrast to the very boisterous, hearty Southerners. I could have a whole blog about those differences. Not just a blogpost. A whole blog.

Looks a bit like Vegas, doesn’t it?

This is the world-famous Reeperbahn, which is the high street that goes through the St Pauli neighbourhood on Hamburg. It’s where the sailors came for their leave and where both German and international tourists come for probably Europe’s second most famous red-light district. Yes, there are whores. Of course there are. St Pauli wouldn’t be the same without them. Get over it. It’s only your puritanical leanings that mayke you think prostitution shouldn’t be legal. Well, that and that they’re notoriously poorly treated the world over. There is that, I suppose.

This guy only looks like he’s having a good time.

Rarely, do I trust one of these characters. Clowns are ok, but jongleurs? Nothing good ever comes from a jongleur. Nothing.

A moment in the mountains.

This one’s really personal. I’m not sure if any of my readers can tell you what this is, but if you know, leave it in the comments. The winner gets a prize. Really. Who says Lahikmajoe never gave you anything?

walking into history

This was an exciting day for me. My friend Nick was in Berlin when The Wall came down, and I’ve always been envious of that experience. I’ve been near historical events, but I’m not sure I want to be anywhere near the tanks or the stress that seem to be involved in real historical moments.

However, today was the twenty-second anniversary of that event. The Reunification of Germany. One of the most momentous things that’s happened in our lifetime. I don’t care how old you are.

Each year, the celebration for the event goes to a different capital of a German federal state and this year? Horst Seehofer, the Minister President of Bavaria, is the head of the Bundesrat, which is one house of the federal government, and his state’s capital is my adopted hometown.

Munich – that’s right.

So, I got up early. Walked my dogs to the event and spent nearly the whole day there. With a few healthy breaks, I might add. Here’s my walk toward the festivities with a bit about said festivities.

Elvira Straße round the corner from where I live

Then I turned the corner into Nymphenburger Straße, which is the old King’s Road that the royals took to their summer castle. What might that castle be called? Nymphenburger Schloß, of course.

 

 

 

 

 

colours in the trees and the Bianchi shop up the street

Ella and Louis love every day equally, but I like to kid myself that they were sensitive to my excitement.

‘Can you smell that?’ Ella asks her brother. ‘It’s the whiff of Reunification.’

Something I didn’t see nearly as often here as I do today – the German flag. Thanks to football and some sort of national healing, the co-perpetrators of the Second World War can finally say they’re proud of their country without being accused of being Fascists.

The Black, Red and Gold of the flag of the Federal Republic of Germany

Please don’t ask me what this building was originally used for, but now it’s part of the Technische Üniversität.

reminds me of Hamburg, not Munich

Love ivy on a wall, and while these green and then later red leaves aren’t actually ivy, they crawl up the wall in the same way. It’s one of my favourite sights in autumn.

nice, eh?

Now, we’ve finally arrived at the party. Here’s the Theatinerkirche on the Odeonsplatz:

beautiful day, eh?

Every party in Bavaria demands at least one Dachshund. This one had two.

‘A Hund ist er scho…’

There’s so much more to tell you about this day, but it’s late. It’ll have to wait for another day.

Next year’s festivities? Up the road in Stuttgart.

3 October 2013? Wanna go?