The writing prompt: What does your everyday look like? Describe the scene of your happiest moment of every day.
Setting: Southwestern Germany
Protagonist: A 33-year old American teacher living with her husband in Germany
For me, it was necessary to sit and ruminate on this idea for a while, especially because I have been on university break, so my schedule has been very relaxed recently. I think I too am a bit of a lady of leisure as I am a freelance instructor of English. This means that I don’t have a permanent contract anywhere, but instead work at the local uni, Vhs and a language school or two, while occasionally taking private students as well. While I do love working with many people at a time, I do sometimes find it taxing. It is important for me to work hard to offer a quality service to my clients/students, regardless of whom I might be representing while working. This can be tricky here, since freelance teachers are only paid for the time that they teach and only one of the places I work actually pays me to travel to and from a site.
When I am not teaching much, my schedule can vary from day-to-day often being entirely inconsistent from this day to that. Recently the days that have made me happy have gone something like this:
The alarm goes off a 5:45 am, which wakes me up, even though I could sleep until 11 or even 13:00 and no one would be the wiser. I am on break from my main job at the uni, but too often wake up at this time because of my beloved husband. He isn’t a morning person, he never has been. In the past this made easier by him generally working from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm or night shifts from 3:00 – 10:00pm. Here in Europe it is a different story. He is required to be at work by 8:00 am and his commute takes him on average forty-five minutes to an hour each way. Because my husband has trouble waking in the morning, he can’t simply have an alarm (he actually has three) with a radio or that is connected to his iTunes, no he cannot wake up to the sound of anyone singing, unfortunately. This is a disappointment for me because that means two things: one, I cannot wake up via a serenade by Lady Gaga, The Smiths, or anyone. This is unfortunate because I always found it lovely to find a singer in my dream attempting to have a conversation with me, only to have me ask in return, “What are you doing here?” Then realizing it was time to wake up. I loved waking up like that, but no more – unless my husband is out-of-town. Two, I am generally awoken by a really annoying and horrendous beep, which isn’t a pretty way to wake up. Mind you through all of this, my husband generally doesn’t wake up. So these alarms are really more for me to use to wake up and then spend the next thirty to forty-five minutes checking on my husband to make sure he is awake. Sometimes, I am so tired that I can sleep through all of this, but too often I cannot – even if exhausted. I am getting better though. One of my favorite parts of the morning, besides my first cup of coffee, is when my husband kisses me goodbye in the morning.
So, the first thing I do is take my allergy tablet as it helps me be able to have a cat, who likes to climb all over me during the day when I am home. Then I put the coffee on. Morning just isn’t morning without it. When my husband first got his job, he requested coffee in the morning, but then he discovered his office has an espresso machine, so it is rare that he takes it with him. In the winter I might drink a whole pot by myself. In the summer that is much less likely though. When the weather is nice I like to either walk or jog along the river in the morning and sometimes do yoga. I love living near the river. It is one thing that I will always appreciate. I grew up with the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers very close, and when I moved back to Portland after a year away, I moved to Sellwood, which is a stones throw from the Willamette. I would use the river path multiple times a day there and being close to the river here makes me feel closer to the earth and not far from home. I feel this is true no matter where I am.
Lately, I am obsessed with this exercise website whose tagline is, “Get in the best shape of your life with us for free.” I have come to really love Bodyrock.tv. I have done their January and then February fitness challenges. No matter what, I usually finish at least one of their workouts five days a week. Combining yoga and interval training has given me so much energy while also helping me feel so much leaner. I can attack the day after this, most definitely!
I have to force myself to eat breakfast, which has lately been oatmeal. If I don’t I won’t eat until I am absolutely starving because of the rush that I get from coffee on an empty stomach and then usually overeat. I usually sit down to eat and check my emails or begin planning the lessons I will teach for the week. Then I get ready for the day, usually heading off to appointments or to run errands by ten or eleven o’clock in the morning. I find that doing this helps me avoid the crazy crowds that can develop because of both the locals and the throngs of tourists. On Saturdays I usually force my husband out of bed early, much to his chagrin, to get out ahead of the chaos that is always a part of the weekend shopping experience in tourist Germany, especially if it is a special shopping weekend!
This allows me to usually have the afternoon to organize the courses I taught for the day and plan dinner. Since I normally either have to work in the evening or have deutschekurs, I often make dinner at about four o’clock in the afternoon and eat before my lessons so that I don’t eat a lot at nine or ten o’clock at night. We even sometimes do the ‘German’ thing and eat sandwiches for dinner if I am short for time. I don’t think I have ever eaten as many sandwiches as I have here in Europe. They aren’t the same as the sandwiches back home, but they aren’t generally bad. My nephew quickly became sick of sandwiches after only a few days of traveling with us a few years ago. We tried to tell him that this is a European thing with baguettes and such, but he wasn’t having any of it. Whenever we said, “Hey let’s grab a sandwich on our way out.” He would literally run the other way.
Sometimes, on Friday nights we go to the closest Cinema that shows films in their original language. Yay, English first-run films!! In Portland, both my husband and I would joke about “going to the mall and catching a movie” because it isn’t as cool as it was when we were in school, but that is exactly what we end up doing now. We say that it isn’t the same because this is Europe, full stop. There are still throngs of preteens throughout the corridors, so it might not be too different in the end. In fact, we are going there tonight (woohoo, date night!). It is actually nice, since there are a number of restaurants near the cinema. We often have fresh amazing sushi because good quality sushi is rare in our part of the Bundesrepublik.
At the end of the day, my husband and I generally finish with the most recent episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and often try to do some German homework together in bed. Three American things I am so thankful for since moving here are: 1 & 2) The Daily Show & the Colbert Report, and 3) NPR. I listen to NPR all the time when I am home. These things make me feel not too far away from the familiar! We usually hit the hay about midnight. Then it starts all over again!