Diary of an Expat, Part 75
Germany. Seriously.
I was talking about Germany to someone and they said that we sound Serious.

I suppose that's probably true. Germans have enough time to take a lot of things very seriously. They take work pretty seriously, which is why they're so good at it. They take trains pretty seriously, which is why they run everywhere and on time. They even take model trains pretty seriously, which is why a 20 million euro model train layout is the most popular tourist attraction in northern Germany.

This is one of my favourite things about Germany, though. There is no particularly good reason not to take things seriously. If you're going to have coffee, why not make sure that it's really, really good coffee? If you're going to drive fast on the Interstate, why not make sure that people are properly licensed and then set about driving really fast on the interstate?

Germans are stereotyped for exactly two things and no more. Do you understand me? No more. The first thing is the seriousness bit, and the second thing is not having a sense of irony. Now, me, I'm so unironic that when I karaoke Alanis Morissette the song becomes completely accurate. I'm so sincere it's actually my middle name.

No, try it. If your name is John Smith, instead of writing "sincerely, John Smith," write "pretend Internet colliedog, John Smith." You'll get results, trust me.

Anyway, in seriousness my entire life is pretty much ironic, and my sense of humor is heavily rooted in the absurd. This means that I have to explain pretty much everything I say to the Germans I know, which means, I suppose, that I don't have a sense of humor here.1 But it's a small price to pay for taking everything else seriously.

For example, if you were serious about protesting, you would protest the destruction of parts of the Berlin Wall. Twenty years ago, if you were serious about protesting, you would be protesting the actual wall itself, but things have come full circle. Now the Wall is a symbol of reconciliation between East and West, and the standing portions have been transformed into a street art gallery. Street art being largely the tool of the disenfranchised, the countercultural, and the young this makes the East Side Gallery, formerly a symbol of oppression, now a powerful voice for the marginalized.

Wherefore if you were serious about being a Hollywood villain, you would circumvent the protesters by demolishing part of the gallery at 5 in the morning so that you can get your construction vehicles through to build luxury condominiums. This is a good way to get people upset, but I mean, it's not like the luxury condos are gonna build themselves, oder?

By this illustration I guess I mean to say that we are a city of extremes, occasioned by our dedication to whatever pursuit we happen to be after.2

It's a four-day weekend here, which is a spectacular idea. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays, and everything is closed, which makes it a good time to do things with your friends and family. It's possible, apparently, to have holidays that are not coincident/designed for/made possible by massive sales at big box chain retailers.

I am using this to get some personal things taken care of, and also to get back into the habit of biking places. Berlin is using this to remind me that the vernal equinox does not prevent it from calling down heavy snow. We're got a groovy thing going on, this city and I. I was trying to decide if I was homesick, and I can't quite figure it out. It's more safe to say I miss things3 I can only get in the United States, but I'd rather visit them than live there, for now. For now.

1. "What do you mean, 'here'?" Aw, hush up. I'm trying, okay?
2. Ironically (!) this is a bad example, and I will return to it when I can think about what I want to say. Maybe next week.
3. The Mojave, specifically
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