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Yesterday I went back into Regensburg with one of my teammates for a day of shopping plus a little bit of sightseeing.  It really is such a beautiful town – but I have to admit that I went primarily for the shopping.  When I packed for this trip, I had just finished paying $50 to get my 70-pound suitcase (just one of my three bags) home from Maryland, and also heard a few horror stories from colleagues who had lugged heavy bags up and down three flights of stairs at various German train stations, surrounded by glaring angry commuting Germans, all yelling “Achtung! Move it, American!”  (I think the stories may have been exaggerated.)  I vowed that I would pack as light as possible for Germany, because yes I would be parked for two months while I did my work assignment, but after that I would be actually traveling as a traveler for two weeks in Ireland and didn’t want to anger any commuting Irishmen.  So I would pack super light and do without my creature comforts.  I could do it!  Go minimal!

What the hell was I thinking?

While adjusting to an essentially new job in a stressful culture, and life in a foreign country (including foreign currency, language, driving laws and social mores), there’s a great way to ensure that you will be even less comfortable, and that’s to leave all your favorite things at home.  For me that’s my favorite: weekend shirt, yoga pants, cardigan, iPhone armband, books, pastels and sketchbook, yoga mat, travel coffee mug, and Klean Kanteen water bottle.  Probably a total of ten pounds of things, with an incalculable amount of comforts-of-home packed in it.  Talk about something being worth its weight in gold!

So yesterday I found some workout/lounge clothes, a vaguely snuggly work sweater, and a couple other pieces of clothing that will make life a little bit easier here.  I didn’t find flat shoes or work pants that could be worn with flat shoes, and that’s really high on my list.  See, about 3 years ago I stopped wearing heeled shoes (initially to decrease the distance between Eric’s lips and mine, but I grew to really feel better in flats), and now my body just doesn’t like being slightly tipped over all day!  I have worn my 1.5 inch heels every workday since I got here, and my skeleton feels absolutely awful and achey, like I’m skating on jello.  Probably a bad analogy but, sheesh.  Anyway!

Regensburg’s crowning glory is the Dom, St. Peter’s Cathedral in the center of the old town.  It is an impressive Gothic structure, and I was duly impressed, although not charmed in the least.  I was struck most by the highly oppressive atmosphere inside the cathedral – it’s very dark inside, and despite the very high ceilings I actually started to feel short of breath and was relieved to get back out in the fresh air.  (Organized religion and I do not always mix.)  I did find myself in artistic appreciation of the statues and stone engravings in the Dom, though.  The colorful angel with the sword was my favorite; I imagined it to represent either Joan of Arc or the Archangel Michael, both figures that hold space in my heart.  Also the statue of the woman holding up her apron or skirt, was kind of lovely.  Her face is so beatific and beguiling.  I imagined that she was Hildegard Von Bingen, although again I have no idea whether she actually is or not.  (Notice also the picture of the three statues side by side, the one on the right being a new replacement.  It kind of tickled me, but also – imagine the whole Dom when it was gleaming new and marble white!  That must have been blindingly brilliant.)

The cellar of the Dom houses the tombs of several bishops, dating back as far as the 1300’s, I believe.  Along the walls on the main floor are these big stone panels, each about the size of a door and engraved with a life-sized image of a bishop laid to rest. Their faces were haunting and strange, and I found myself entranced by them but in a disturbed way.  Notice the pillows underneath their heads.

Enough of the Dom and those darned Middle Ages!  Can you breathe again?

Today is Sunday, and did you know that Germany is closed on Sundays?  Germany actually has a “Sunday law”, originally passed in 1919 and affirmed in 2009 after much scuttlebutt.  The law reserves Sundays as a day of worship, and it is illegal for businesses to operate on that day.  Okay, now I knew about this before I left, and I held it as a charming, enlightened custom.  “Oh, how civilized!  What a nice contrast to the 24/7 American culture!  I think I’ll like that!”

I don’t think I like it.  No, let me put it another way.  I am uncomfortable with it.  Ah, screw it.  I don’t like it, at least not today.  My job requires me to be in my work environment but not become part of it, and I’ve been totally fine with it on every other assignment.  But this time around I am also living on site at my work environment, which means that when I go to the local gym or the movie theater or the Burger King or the dining facility, I don’t ever quite feel like a private citizen.  I am always at work.  So it’s nice to get away on the weekends, and maybe when I travel further from work it’ll feel different, but going into town today would be a lonely prospect.  It’s not that there is no solution to this – after all, I could go to a park or hang out by a river.  But you know.  I’m in a mood to whine a bit.

So I went for a walk and did some bodyweight-lifting at the gym, and now I’m working on my blog and getting caught up on my finances and budget.  And later I’ll knit for a bit, and a big-name comedian is giving a free performance here later this afternoon, so I’ll check it out.  But today is the kind of day when, if I’m going to have a quiet day at home, I start to wish I was actually home and could wake up late, legs and arms entwined with my beloved’s; go for a walk with him and our dog; fix leisurely meals and play cards together, or watch a movie; visit the family and comedically lose while trying to wrestle both niece and nephew, who are getting stronger every day; have coffee with a friend or two; meet up with many more at Graham-A-Rama and enjoy the live entertainment of my very talented friends.  Future Sundays may not all feel the same, but that’s how this one feels.

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