Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not the heat

In a previous post I complained about a slow Internet connection at my Wohnung. The people at T-Mobile must have heard me, because now I have no connection at all. It's all part of a trend here. Almost as if Essen can sense my impending departure, things are coming to a close all around me. Rubens, my favorite coffee roaster on Emmastr. is closed and the family that runs it is on Urlaub. Ditto for our local Turkish place where the boys behind the counter make the finest aubergine pizza this side of Istanbul and always have a complimentary baklava ready for us. We didn't even get to say goodbye.

The upside to Rubens being closed was that while I stood outside and read the sign, I remembered that I wanted to photograph the great window display they have there. The result is shown above. It's a sure-enough dollhouse coffee shop and while my photo doesn't do it justice, it makes me want to buy a coffee roaster and go into business every time I see it.

With just four days to go, I'm doing a lot of thinking about the sabbatical experience. I realize that there are things I just won't be able to get to now. I've accomplished a lot, but not everything I wanted, and it seems I just have to accept that. I wanted very much to improve my pronunciation of the illusive "ü" sound in German, but I've made little progress there. I can say the normal "u," as in Schule, but the more extreme "ü" stumps me. Two words in particular make my poor pronunciation a real problem: schwul and schwül. Schwul means "gay" and schwül means "humid." In most cases, I get away with my accent being seen as charmant, but given the wide gap between the meaning of these two words and my almost total lack of ability to even hear the difference (much less pronounce it,) I find that in this case, my accent just leads to confusion and embarrassment.

I was discussing this on a hot, muggy day recently, as my wife and I were walking through the vacation-deserted streets of Essen. We were both over heated and sweaty and I was trying to work through the impending departure and accept the inevitable. She was supportive and philosophical and reminded me of something I hope I won't soon forget: When it comes to temperature and good pronunciation, it's not the heat, it's the homosexuality.

1 comment:

Tyler Vance said...

Great blog, Chris. I've had a joy following it this past year. I hope your re-acclimation back home goes seamlessly.