Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Honestly, I am SO PSYCHED to watch the NFL, college basketball, and engorge myself non-stop on Thanksgiving. I wanted a picture to show my love for America so I google imaged "quintessentially American," and this is what it gave me, hahahahaha. I am sure one Mr. Reale will be extremely satisfied with this.
I had already decided Thanksgiving would probably be the most depressing day here in Germany and now I get to be home for it! Glorious. Again, I have to give Ivan love for showing me loyalty and wanting me to come back in January.. Awesome stuff.
So, on a side note, we lost last Saturday. I met with the Dr. prior to the game, and here is essentially what he told me, "I have seen your Xrays and your MRI and from what I can see here, you have a very bad bone bruise. Basically, the bone in your foot is bending and if you continue to play, it will inevitably break, BUT if you want to play today you can." Great doc... Ivan is sitting next to me when the Dr tells me this and clearly he wants me to play. So I turn to him and say, lets just play it by ear Coach. Clearly, he did not understand that phrase but that was part of the reason I went with it.
The game starts and we are quickly getting demolished, 21 - 6 or so. Ivan turns to me and says, "Can you go?" and I respond, "Just quick spurts coach, nothing too long." So, I go in the game. I pull the best Larry Legend impersonation of my life. Go in, within the first 5 posessions hit back-to-back threes and we cut the lead to 4. No big deal, except for the fact that I was strictly jogging from 3-point line to 3-point line and slowly starting to cringe on each step. We went into halftime down around 5 or so I think.
During halftime though, I told Ivan I just could not play on it anymore and we ended up losing by 22. Trevor fouled out and the refs hated T all day. It was a rough one to watch to say the least.
On another side note, I was quoted in my first politically motivated newspaper article ever on Saturday! Haha.... A woman from our local paper interviewed Trevor and I about Obama's victory and we did our best CNN international impersonations. Everyone here is extremely excited about Obama getting the W. Maybe, the rest of the world will stop hating us.. woo hoo! We have no idea what the article says, but it is hilarious to say the least. Good times. Can't wait to see a bunch of you soon!
America, here I come.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Big ups to Ivan for having some loyalty in a league where teams run through Americans on a weekly basis. Last week he told me that no matter what the deal was with my foot, he wants me back in Germany on January 5 for the second half of the season. I have been brainstorming ideas of what I could do at home if I came back and the possibilities seem half-way decent. I am not going to lie though, the chance of going home for Thanksgiving and seeing all of my loved ones is EXTREMELY enticing.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Will arrived bright and early Friday morning (as all of my visitors have) at Dusseldorf airport. We mostly just hung out on Friday and Will caught up on some sleep because we had some big plans laid out for the weekend.
First, we wake up Saturday morning and decide we should hit up a castle so Will gets to see some classic, old Euro stuff. I do a quick google search and find something called Castle-somethingorother. I write down the address and we GPS that ish. We arrive at the address and we are somehow in a flat, rural neighborhood. Something does not seem right here. Will and I both decided that this castle would suck anyway because it is not on high ground, and therefore, would have an extremely difficult time defending itself. We turned around and head back to the house, wondering where the hell this castle was. No Biggie. We arrive back in Werne and guess what - Fletcher Walters is in the building. Fletch just rolled up and was waiting for us in my apartment.
At this point, I am extremely frustrated by this fake castle and re-run my castle search. I find the link for castle whatsamacallit and click on it. This castle is actually a scuba diving club. No joke. This is the link. Frustrated, Fletcher tells me that he google mapped Werne and saw this very cool picture of a hunting castle/palace thing. We check it out and it looks legit. Without having any idea whether we can actually go near this palace or have to pay for it, etc., (we needed a more successful adventure than our last one), we just go for it. Fletcher - GREAT WORK. This palace was absolutely amazing. We walked around, checking out all the statues and such and taking ridicuous, blog-worthy pictures like this. Posing like a statue is far more fun than you can imagine.
After the palace adventure, Fletch and Will went to Sim Ju to get some food from the Carnies ("Small hands, smell like cabbage." - TRUE), while I took a pre-game nap. Keep in mind, they have been doubting this festival all day. Saying things like, "Dude, we are in Werne, there will probably be like 100 people." FALSE. They fell in love as soon as they began to smell Currywurst, Crepes, and Pilsners. (Side Note: I think Will and I ate Carnival food 90% of the time we were eating, actually probably 90% of the total time Will was here. It was amazingly tasty and terribly repulsive all at the same time. But, seriously, Carnies can make some quality dishes.) They came back to the apartment impressed. Needless to say, I was excited for the game, but I was more excited for the Festival afterwards. Here is a little bit of info on Sim Ju.
The game went well. We won by around 20. Trevor had something like 24 and T and I each had around 18. It was nice having some friendly faces in the stands. Fletcher and Will were loving it and I played to the crowd a little bit throughout the game. They both think that I had around 20 rebounds but I think that may be a bit of an over-estimate, more like 19. I had one of the greatest blocks of my life on Saturday. As an unsuspecting guard on the other team went in for an uncontested, fast-break lay-up, I rose up to spike the ball out of the air towards my teammates on the bench. Right after, I made a no way symbol with my hands to the crowd to signal that the game was officially over (I am loving this stuff, you can do anything, it is so fun/ridiculous). The other team had 3 Americans too, so we thought they were going to be good, but judging by the point total at the end of the game: this was not the case. They were OK. We went up early and held onto the lead throughout the game. We are now officially second place in our league behind the team that beat us last week. As soon as the game ended, we did our patented celebration dance thing and than got psyched for the ridiculousness that is Sim Ju.
Most of the guys on the team and some of our fans rolled back to our apartment before going into Sim Ju. We just straight murked tequila with oranges and cinnamon and listened to quality Euro tunes. We actually left the apartment relatively early for a Saturday night and went straight to get a 1/2 METER BRATWURST. Yes, it was .5 Meter, 1.64 feet, almost 20 inches (no Romo)! Wow, it was glorious. We then hit up the beer tent where jolly, traditional German tunes were sung throughout the night. At one point, the entire tent went into a Ziggy Zaggy, Ziggy Zaggy, Oy, Oy, Oy! chant which was amazing and quickly prompted everyone to chug their beers. The night ended kinda early for Euro standards but was long and quality nonetheless.
Sunday, we hit up the Festival yet again, and ate all day. We took a break from the festival to watch Trevor coach one of his teams, hit the beer tent intermittently, and won some sweet Green Goblin masks in a balloon shooting Carnie game. We also discovered how Germans truly feel about America (notice the picture to the right). A great Sunday to say the least.
On Monday night, Will and I had a nice dinner at this Italian place that sponsors our team and talked about the world and the economy over a nice bottle of Red. Sounds kinda awkward, haha, but I truly appreciated it. Will was dropping knowledge about the US markets and I was actually fascinated by it. I think I am finally maturing haha. I dropped Will off at the airport Tuesday morning to finish off an amazing weekend with the bigger (not quite as large) brother. Will, I would just like to say thanks for rolling up. It made me happy.
Brooke is coming on Friday bright and early for a great weekend. Fletch and Andrew play each other this weekend (I think?) and we have an away game on Sunday. Should be another quality weekend in the Deustchland. 'Til next time.
Monday, October 20, 2008
We shot out to a 10 - 0 lead early in the first before they started crawling back into the game. By halftime, it was a 1 point game I think. They had 3 Americans as well, actually 2 Canadians and an American but you know Canada wishes it was America anyway, so I will do them a favor and call them Americans. There lone actual American had absolutely BOOSTIES (this means he could jump really, really high). At one point in the second quarter, he caught an alley-oop behind me with his left hand and absolutely railed it home. I thought his head was going to hit the rim, and he looked kinda old too. It was surprising and impressive to say the least. After the alley-oop, I kinda just shrugged and said respect. Perhaps before I broke my leg (or never in my life) I would have jumped to try and alter the alley but the oop was too legit - no stopping something like that, woulda just been embarassing. Speaking of embarassing, this picture kinda sums up how the game was and how much higher this guy could jump compared to us. You may not be able to tell, but our opponent is still rising while Trevor is at the peak of his jump resulting in Trevor getting this shot PUNCHED in a similar fashion to Team Blackout's consistant spikage in the MSVL (Motown Summer Volleyball League) this past summer.
Trevor had four fouls in the first half and fouled out early in the fourth, which never helps anything. T and I each had around 20 points and I think I had 5 three-pointers on the day. It is sad to say, but the refs truly changed the outcome of the game. Whether it was terrible fouls leading to our foul trouble or letting some "hacking" go uncalled, they definitely made an impact. Andrew came to the game to represent and after the game Trevor (whose birthday is today - Happy Birthday Trev) and I went back to Andrew's apartment to begin the annual Fletcher and Goldy Birthday Extravaganza, for this year only, known as the Fletch, Gold, and Trev Celebratory Weekend. By the way, thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes, it made me feel like the good ol' U S of A missed me.
Fletcher showed up soon thereafter, and we brought back on old school game known as Strategic War while watching college football and the truly surprising Tampa Bay Rays. Although Saturday's Rays game was a disappointment, I gotta give a shout-out to one David P Sullivan for being a great fan. He has always followed the Rays religiously and he is finally getting his shot at the World Series. Congratulations my friend. Overall, one of the best nights I have had here in Germany with a ton of hilarious moments occurring throughout the evening, and all we did was sit in Andrew's apartment for most of it. We did get yelled at by some German Frau about her children sleeping and threatening to call the Polizei (I think?), but no biggie. I am sorry to you if you are reading this blog, we may have been louder then we thought.
The GMEN with another big time W yesterday and gotta give some love to the Packers for my pops. Dominating against the Colts. In case you were wondering, I miss Sundays in America...
Will is rolling up on Friday for the annual Sim Ju Festival in Werne. Supposedly, absolutely crazy. We already have Carnies posting up all over town and the town is buzzing with excitement. I will definitely have a post for ya sometime next week.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I got home and instead of taking a quick nap (like I used to do), I went out to run some errands. I purchased a new wallet so that I could keep track of all the annoying change that Euros lead to (their smallest paper bill is a 5), I went to Western Union and sent some money home to me mum, went straight to the gym to lift, and had a nice post-lift shooting session. After shooting, I hit up the grocery store and got this weeks food and than cooked a lovely meal of gnocchi with garlic tomato sauce and mozzy sprinkled over the top. Oh, it was tasty. I went to bed exhausted, full, and satisfied with the day's work. Prior to settling in for my neeps (a strange word that I picked up at Amherst, not really sure how, but I know one M. Bradley uses it quite often) I debated topping this day off by doing some laundry but decided better of it so that I would still have something to do over the next few days. On a side note, I just heard that while Brandon is here, he is taking German lessons. I am jealous, learning a new language is tight.
Speaking of productivity (not really), I am not allowed to ask you to CLICK the stupid advertisement links on the side of my blog! So don't do it damn it (wait a tic)! I was reading an article on how bloggers make money and this is one of them. The more clicks, the better. I will pay for many rounds at either The Office in Morristown or McMurph's in Amherst, I promise. I figured since writing this blog makes me as giggly as this kid, I might as well try to make my blogging experience more PRODUCTIVE. Haha, productivity from a guy who had a giant wooden entertainment center with 3 tv's throughout college, who woulda thought?
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
As the long-time readers (haha) may already know, I absolutely love European cities with rivers going through them. In comes Amsterdam, the city with the most bridges in all of Europe and with canals all over the damn place. I was in river-through-the-city heaven. It is most definitely a beautiful place. This is especially impressive due to the fact that it straight poured throughout our visit without putting the slightest damper on our weekend events.
Don't get me wrong, I love museums and history and such (wow, I am a nerd.. damn you Amherst!) but, I feel like there is no place in the world which induces daydreaming about weird ass stuff more than a museum. You walk through checking out famous paintings, punching in numbers so that you can listen to your audio tour, and immediatley upon seeing a large famous painting such as my favorite from the Rijksmuseum and their most famous piece, "The Night Watch," I wondered how the hell Rembrandt got all those people to pose for long enough to paint that ish. I imagined the little girl in the painting getting antsy and Rembrandt attempting a million different ways to make her stand still like when a 4 year old gets his/her photo taken for the family christmas card. Or, maybe he did it from memory and all my rambling daydreams were for nothing. Whatever the case may be, my daydreams can make any museum a little bit more interesting. I found myself secretly wishing my mom had made a scavenger hunt for the museum like she did when I was a youngster. A tactic I most definitely will use with my future fam, not only to keep the young ones interested, but because I am a large child inside a large man's body.
Saturday was a day of Touristy events. Me mum and I went on a bus tour of Amsterdam with a stop at a diamond factory followed by a lovely canal tour. It was a great way to see all of Amsterdam and I took maybe a million pictures. You can see all (most) of the pictures from the weekend here.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
As I sat in the basement of J's friend's house, I had an epiphany. No matter where you are in the world, what the laws are, or who you're with, most kids our age do the same stuff. As I looked around the basement (first point, no parents let you throw parties anywhere but the semi-finished basement), some of these Germans were playing their drinking games with dice (see photo, the game we played is called Mexian and involves a complex web of rolling dice and lying about what you have similar to the card game BS) while others were having a grand old time socializing with one another. While I had no clue what they were talking about, I could easily imagine. They were sitting there, making fun of each other and laughing about stupid things they had done in the past together, making plans for the idiotic events of the future, or catching up with old friends. Maybe, they were even making plans to create a business together and live the good life like my roommates and I have done so many times in the past. Even though I have discovered that zee German culture and way of life is extremely different than the one I am used to in the States, I have realized that people have far more universal characteristics and behaviors than I have ever imagined in the past.
OK, enough with the philosophizing. The next afternoon, I was dropped off at Andrew's apartment in Hagen. Kevin had already gotten there the night before, and we all got right back into the flow of things. Kevin watched entourage online while Andrew and myself had the pleasure of watching College Gameday on his computer. We may not have had 4 tv's in the house, but we still found a way to watch multiple things at the same time just as we had done ever since we hand-crafted the massive entertainment center during our sophomore year at Amherst. Later that night, we got to see Fletcher play a game against Dortmund. Clearly, Fletch has had the same issue with the refs here that I have had, as he was in foul trouble throughout the game. When he was in though, he scored at a consistent clip and looked to me like he was definitely their first option. Great work swappies, I'm proud of ya.
After the game, Kevin, Andrew, Fletcher, and myself all went back to Fletcher's apartment to hang out a bit before going out. It was a glorious plan as Fletcher and myself got to witness the Michigan Wolverines come back from a 19 point defecit and take down the hated Wisconsin Badgers. We were happy to say the least.
We than proceeded to a party hosted by a radio station called 1Live. I know what you are thinking, "A radio station party?!?" Yea, so what? It doesn't make me less of a man and more of a teenage girl (well, I mean...). It was pretty funny to attend, considering all I could think about was that we were at the German version of Z100's Jingle Ball, except without actual musicians (guys go to that too, right?).
1Live is a radio station that we have all grown to love because it consistently plays music with English lyrics and hearing words in English makes all of us much happier, even if they are the catchiest and most annoying I can't-ever-get-this-song-out-of-my-head songs in the history of Euro Pop. The choice in music makes you look like this on the left - happy to be chilling with the fellas of course, but, as you can tell by the faces, clearly thinking how we wish DJ BJ (Brandon Jones for those of you not in the know) was behind the turntables. Nevertheless, it was definitely a quality weekend..
Next weekend, however, Momma G is flying into Germany and we are going to go hit Amsterdam in style. Yes, I am going to Amsterdam for the first time with my mother. Check back next week and I am sure there will be some entertaining tidbits to read and hopefully, some quality pics to view.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
As many of you already know, I have been here for almost 2 months after doing News Release and coming straight to Werne to play. Therefore, this first entry may be a long one. News Release was an amazing experience which will not soon be forgotten. Although, at times, I was extremely intimidated by the religious aspects of the camps, I definitely think it had a positive impact on my faith and my character. I met so many people that I plan to stay in touch with for a very long time. Of course, our entire News Release team bonded like a family in a matter of weeks, but the host families I stayed with were particularly memorable as well.
News Release Week 1:
I stayed with a family in Lorrach, Germany (a town literally on the border of France, Germany, and Switzerland). My host mom Monika was amazing and the 6 year old Finn was honestly the most energetic child I have ever met. It took me a couple days to get used to the German way of "seeming sort of mean and rude, but actually welcoming you into their home and appreciating your company." Fletcher was only a few blocks away from me with his host family so we got to hang out constantly throughout the week, something that definitely helped ease me into this new German life I have begun. We got to go into Basel, Switzerland and see some amazing old churches and buildings. Basel was so beautiful and interesting, I just wish I could have gone there a bit more. During that first week, I also got to see my first castle. Let me just say, castles are so damn old and so damn cool, its ridiculous. Like, you are sitting up here in a tower where 500 years ago some dude patrolled with a bow and arrow ready to straight snipe people at any time very similar to the way Kevin Costner takes out two arrows in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and takes down two evil dudes with one shot by messing with the feathers on the arrows (or at least that is how I thought of it). Fletch and I obviously both felt this way as well without saying it, considering we took photos like this at the castle.
Basel was so cool because it has the massive Rhine River running right through the center of it. I do not know what it is about European cities, but I am digging cities with rivers running through it (I guess I do know what it is actually - the river). Fletch and I chilled on the banks of the Rhine one night doing nothing besides watching the river and talking about how cool it is (obviously, while having a couple pilsners and some local cuisine).
On the weekend, Fletcher's host family and my host family joined forces to go to this crazy mountain roller coaster in the Black Forest. You take a ski lift up the mountain and than take your own like go-kart style car down this track that winds down the entire mountain. Pretty insane and really fun. As a side bonus, the view from the top of the mountain was absolutely absurd.
You can see photos from all this stuff and my second week in Lauf which I will be speaking about shortly here.
News Release Week 2:
So week two came way quicker than I thought, and suddenly, we were in Lauf, Germany. Lauf is in the land of massive hefeweizens, bratwursts and sausages of all shapes and sizes, and host families that consider you their own. Aaron, Oscar, and myself stayed with the Kreuz's. A special thanks has to go out to Momma Kreuz and Simon, who took such amazing care of us and made us feel right at home. Like I said in my thank you speech at the farewell dinner for that week, Simon happily helped us out with things that we obviously could have done ourselves (like turning ON the German Xbox) without any hesitation. Momma Kreuz made us scrambled eggs and thin pancakes with nutella (amazing) for breakfast EVERY day and we literally had family meals with the mother, father, daughter, son, and daughter's boyfriend at least twice a day. It was very cool and something I definitely want to do when I finally start my own family (not to say that I did not have plenty of wonderful family meals with my own family :) throughout my 22 (almost 23 (holy crap)) years on this earth). Sorry, too many parentheses, just doing the old stream of consciousness thing.
Lauf is a village right outside Nuremburg. Clearly, Momma Kreuz made sure we got to see a wonderful city like Nuremburg. Again, Nuremburg has a monster river running right through it (I am really falling in love with these damn rivers) and it was so beautiful. The day we went into town, we had lunch right there sitting on a floating dock on the river. In Nuremberg we saw the main Nuremberg castle as well as two churches. One of which was the Church of St. Sebald which I believe is pretty freakin' famous. All I know is that it was massive and well-appreciated. After finally making the jump and taking an art history class my last semester at Amherst with the infamous Joel Upton (an absolute legend who can whisper in a way that an entire room not only hears it, but thinks they are getting top secret information about some Gothic church that Joel both discovered and kept secret from the rest of the world), I loved going into these huge churches.
We also saw a famous fountain that is super old and if you rub some ring on it, you get good luck or something. Oh, and speaking of Joel once more, we went to Albrecht Durer's house, an artist which I wrote about for a paper in art history... Great stuff. After some emotional farewells, the rest of the News Release team went back to the states (besides Kev and Fletch who are still here and killing their respective leagues) and I began my journey to Werne.
I can finally speak about Werne. I arrived here on a chilly August afternoon and went straight to my apartment. As I struggled to keep my eyes open during the car ride here (as many of you may know, I tend to pass out when in a car, not driving, during any trip of more than 10 minutes), I noticed that all I saw was German farmland and a strange shack on the side of the road called McSnack. McSnack, it turns out, is where my roommates, T, Trevor and Marko, and myself have lunch every Monday and Thursday. McSnack, of course, sounds as good as it is, but that is another story for another day. I arrived in my apartment semi freaking out. Am I in the German farmland by myself? Is this some prank? Was I dreaming all of that or did that actually happen? I found that my worries were unnecessary and irrational, as the next day, I walked around town and found that there is actually a nice little market place in Werne that has everything a man like myself could need. Plenty of places for food, 3 eiscafes (ice cream, no wait - check that, gelato spots) and about 5 bars. I was happy.
So, thus began my life in Germany. Oh yea, basketball. I play pro basketball here in the 2. Regionaliga. Thus far we are 3 - 0 in our league and we won our only cup game. The cup game, by the way, was against a team in a league lower than us and the only thing I can compare it to is shooting practice. Literally, the entire game was me running around, catching the ball, realizing no one was around me and lining up a three (sorry Hixo, I am shooting 'em anyway haha). The other two Americans could not play that game so there were plenty of shots to go around. Believe me when I say, I took advantage of the extra jumpers available that game. We won by a ton and it was a good time. When the game was over, I was as satisfied as I am when myself, Riordan, Liakas, Cam, and CJ (aka the Nizman, Juice, etc) run the Y like its our job every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 PM - 9 PM throughout the summer months. Yes, you read that correctly, like the Morris Center YMCA.
League games have definitely been way tougher and we won a huge one last weekend by 1. Luckily, I missed 2 free throws with 1.4 seconds left up 1 and grabbed the rebound to seal the deal (haha, I am trying to justify this in my head still, just let me be). There is actually video of these two free throws and the amazing soccer-style chant/dance thing we do with our fans after the game. Check out this website and look around, you should be able to find it. Overall, I am so excited to be here and very proud of myself for being able to do this after breaking my leg so badly during my junior year at Amherst. It is a childhood dream come true and I couldn't be happier. There is a cool article on Amherst's website talking about all of this. The only downside, of course, is that my wonderful girlfriend, Brooke, is in New York City (all male friends/brothers please shut up and do not bust my balls haha, I miss and love you guys too).
Oh, and I almost forgot. Because we only have practice three times a week at night (Yes, 3 times a week), my coach got me an internship here as well. I work Monday through Friday from 9 -3 for a consulting firm in Germany. We work mostly in the healthcare sector blah, blah, blah, job, job, job. It gives me some extra Euros each month and definitely keeps me from getting bored. Oh yea, and it is a great experience that will look good on a resume, blah, blah, and I clearly stay up to date with sports in the United States with all the access to ESPN.com I could ever need.
Finally, I hope to blog at least once a week with updates and information about my time here in Europe. Become a regular reader and post comments whenever you feel the need, it should be an interesting year. Ciao!