München, My Home

Since October 1996 I've been living in Munich Germany. While living in germany I'm trying to learn German, trying not to be poisoned to death by the fatty food. Actually, not all the food is fatty, but they have not discovered "Veggy Burgers" which are so plentiful in my old home of Portland. I'm also trying to not be poisened to death by all the cigarette smoke that fills the restaraunts. However, there are a few non smoking sections.

I've noticed that Germans seem to love three things: 1) They love polluted air as evidenced by all the cigarette smoke that they seem intent on filling the air with, and their relative lack of tendency to obey the no-smoking signs posted in the U-Bahn stations.

2) They love long lines and inconvenient shopping as evidenced by their rediculously short business hours. A favorite german past time is to rush to pour into stores 1 hour before closing and stand a half hour for the register with only 2 or 3 items in their hands. Retail stores close at 8pm weekdays, 4pm Saturdays, and are closed on Sundays altogether. These store hours are controled by law. Germans love the fact that the government forbids them from having convenient shopping hours. If they did not love it they would change it, but they don't.

And 3) Germans love germs. They love germs and hate chemicals. Whereas Americans love chemicals and hate germs. I have some evidence for this belief. All the public restrooms have doors that require you to grab the handle or turn the knob to open the door. There are no rest room doors that you can just push open with your foot. Instead, they (Germans) think you should have to touch the same door that everyone else has touched after using the toilet. Another example: most bars do not have dishwashers that wash glasses other people have drunk out of before serving a drink to the next person. They simply wash the glasses quickly in warm soapy water, and serve a drink to the next person.

The Germans have also not yet discovered customer service. The waiters are the best in the world that I've found at ignoring the customers. There is an art, which the American living in Munich must learn, of yelling out in a crowded restarant or cafe to try to begrudgingly get your waiter's attention. Also, something that always catches me off gaurd is salespeople becoming angry and yelling at me when I ask them questions in stores. Sometimes I feel like maybe they would much rather be smoking a cigarette than actually helping me find what I'm looking for. But, believe it or not, I was actually in a store in Munich once looking at vaccuum cleaners, when a sales person actually walked up to me and asked if he could help me!!!

A linguistic principle that applies very much here is that if there is no word in a language for a certain concept, it is therefore difficult or impossible for the people who speak that language to think about the concept. There is no word in german for convenience. There are words for pleasent, timely, easy, and accessible, not no word that means convenience. Thus germans do not think "I could get more customers if I could made shopping more convenient". Another example is that in the appartment building where i live, there are 8 floors of appartments and appartment dwellers, but the laundry room has 4 washing machines and two clothes dryers. The building manager never thinks, "I could make the life of these peole more convenient by getting a few more washing machines and as many dryers as washers." It is infact impossible for him to think that, because he does not know how to think about the word convenient.

Munich is quite beautiful in the summer. Most of the restaraunts have outdoor dining which makes the air more breathable unless you happen to be sitting downwind from one of the plentiful supply of smokers which I have described above. Another thing that makes this city quite livable is all the bike paths. You can ride your bike just about anywhere in the city on special lanes for bicyclists. The Isar river runs through town and a park runs along the length of it for many miles (or kilometers in this case). This part is normally populated with pedestrians, rollerbladers, and cyclists. If you ride south along this river you eventually come to an island called the Flaucher. On this island there is a wooded area which separates the front and back of the island. On the back of the island is a nude gay sunbathing area, and on the front of the island is the hetero nude sunbathing area which is curiously enough still mostly men.

Another more well known nude area is in the middle of the Englisher Garten which is well within the lively area of town. There is a path on one side of the stream which American tourists walk along and gape at the naked people on the other side of the stream. This is an area where you can usualy run into people you know (if you are gay), as well as people you'd like to know and people you have seen many times before but do not want to know.

Munich has excellent mass transit. I brought my car with me form America when I moved here. But I parked it when I got here and have not moved it from that spot since. That is partially because i'm too lazy to take the car to TUF for its required inspection, and I have not bought any car insurance. But I have not needed it. I go by bike/U-bahn/S-bahn to work. And I take mass transit pretty much anywhere else I want to go.

When I go out at night, I normally go to bars, dance clubs, and restaraunts in the center of town, and there is a night bus that takes me back to Schwabing all night on weekends. And the bus runs every 30 minutes at night.

My Previous Home

Until October 96, I lived in Portland, Oregon. Here are a few pictures I took of Portland. Portland is a beautiful city surrounding the confluence of the Willamette River and the Columbia River. I have compiled a small set of photos of sites in Portland. The city has many magnificent bridges, the most impressive of which in my opinion is the Fremont Bridge, which can easily be seen from my bedroom window.

Actually, I've lived in Portland since March 1994, and I lived in Aloha, Oregon for a year prior to that. My apartment is in an area of Northwest Portland called Northwest. Northwest is really a the section of town north of Burnside and south of Vaughn, west of I-405 and east of the west hills. Some local attractions are, Cinema 21, Coffee People, Santa Fe Taqueria (two good places to see and be seen), Forest Park (a nice place to walk or jog along the trails and streams), lots of local restaurants, bookstores, CD stores, and trendy clothes shops.

It is also a fairly PINK section of town. It is not at all uncommon to see [RAINBOW FLAG]rainbow flags hanging from people's balconies, or affixed to car bumpers. I personally have a [PINK TRIANGLE] pink triangle on my car bumper.

The Pink Triangle was once used by Nazi Germany to mark homosexual prisoners, similar to the way that Jews were marked by yellow Stars of David. Today, that symbol of oppression has been reclaimed by the gay community, and it represents our unity and solidarity, and our pride in ourselves.

I moved to Portland from Starkville, Mississippi, [map of mississippi] where I lived and went to college at Mississippi State University. I grew up in the Mississippi Delta --mostly in two small towns, Webb, Mississippi and Glendora Mississippi (where my parents still live today). I went to High School at the county public school West Tallahatchie High School.

I was born in Greenwood, Mississippi.

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