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Just Your Average Day in Berlin
I wake up in a closet, and experience the brief feeling of confusion like I do every morning before I remember that this closet is my room. I stretch my arms as best I can. They bump against the walls, which is no big surprise, seeing as the walls are only four feet apart. I turn sideways and try again. Much better. I would say that I got out of bed, but a mattress on the floor doesn’t really qualify as a bed to me, so I’ll say that I got out of mattress.
I look at the free calendar hanging in my closet that we received in the mail because it got forwarded all the way to our home in Berlin from Bozeman, Montana, shaking my head at the stupidity of the post office. We live in BERLIN, fools. We don’t want a calendar of American monuments. Whenever people come over they probably think that we’re one of those American families in Berlin that just can’t seem to let go of America. Quite the opposite. If it weren’t for our relatives in America, I’d be condemned to stay in Berlin the rest of my life and eat sauerkraut and wear lederhosen every single day. My parents like Berlin that much. No, I’m just kidding, nobody wears lederhosen anymore. As for the sauerkraut, we eat it sometimes in the hot lunches at school. At least that’s what the lunch ladies say it is, but there’s really no way of telling. Bad school lunches are an international problem.
I wonder what’s for breakfast. Bread? Probably, seeing as that’s what we eat every morning. No, literally. Sometimes we buy cereal, but that tends to disappear mysteriously over the course of several days. Not that I'm blaming anyone named Avery who is in eighth grade and lives with me and has brown hair and eyes and is best friends with someone named Noah, because we all know that's not it. I look in the pastry bag in the kitchen. Bread. I can officially tell the future. I’m just magical like that. I hug my daddy good morning. I wish I could see my mom, but she’s in Bozeman with my little brother. FOR FIVE MONTHS!
Breakfast is unsurprisingly boring. I brush my hair and teeth and put on a pretty t-shirt and some jeans. As usual, I miss the 7:11 train and take the 7:21 one to school, which means I have to talk to all the annoying people in my grade on the train. That's you, Marlene. Luckily enough, Ceci has decided to grace me with a conversation. Ceci is this super duper smart girl that's really nice, but has a way of acting superior sometimes without realizing it. Anyway, she tells me about a book she's reading about the history of Judaism. She flips open to a page and points to some illegible Hebrew script.
"You can read Hebrew, right? Can you read this?" I just stare at her and slowly shake my head.
"I don't think that even Israeli people could read that. It's like trying to read Shakespeare’s handwriting."
"Oh. Ok then." Ceci replies, somewhat put off. In order to show her that I'm not completely incompetent, I write a few words in Hebrew. When we get off the train at the school stop, Zehlendorf, I spend the 10-minute walk to the school teaching Ceci how to recite a simple Hebrew prayer.
I walk up the driveway and pass the John-F-Kennedy-School of Berlin sign. Saying hi to Naomi and Jessica, I go into the high school building to my locker. My locker, and all of my classes are in the high school building because in the German school system, elementary school goes up to sixth grade, and seventh and up is high school. I open up my locker and gaze uncomprehendingly at the schedule, trying to figure out what day it is. I bang my head against the edge of the door, trying to get the blood flowing. People start giving me weird looks so I stop. Rubbing the new lump on my head, I ask Kirsten Masselink, who has the locker below me, what day it is. Wednesday? Crap! Wednesday is my least favorite day. Math first hour, double English, and two hours of basketball after school. What's not to hate?
I gather up my heavy textbooks and trudge off to math in Mr. Zaplowa's room. There's nothing really wrong with math, or for that matter, Mr. Zaplowa, but it's just hard to get excited about math. Most people aren't into self-inflicted torture, so I won't talk about math. Or double English with Mrs. Graf, who seems a bit off her rocker. She talks endlessly about the power of fairy tales, and never has her classes planned out.
Next is Geography, but everyone calls it by its German name, Erdkunde. It's taught by Frau Hesse, who is almost as wacky as Mrs. Graf, but is still one of my favorite teachers. We color in maps. Now, I know that I'm not a teacher, and I don't have a degree in teaching, and I know that I don't know what's good for seventh graders to help them learn, but somehow, coloring in maps just doesn't seem befitting of anyone over the age of eight. That's just my opinion.
After Erdkunde is German, taught by Herr W?hrle, an overweight German man with curly gray hair and a goatee who smells like he eats lit cigarettes. He is fond of the phrases "okie-dokie" and "jawohl!"(a German word for yes that only weirdos use.) If you aren't creeped out already, he calls all the girls "darling," which is more than a little weird coming from a sixty-year-old guy with a potbelly. Since it's a seventh and eighth grade class, my older brother Avery is in it too. Herr W?hrle doesn't like Avery because he talks in class too much and always writes crazy stories that technically still follow the assignment. For example, at the beginning of the school year, we were supposed to write a story about a little girl that gets a pet whale. Avery gave all the characters the same names as his teachers and made them get into fist fights and ride on unicorns, but he still followed the assignment. Thankfully, this class passes uneventfully.
Since the elementary school kids get the Aula (cafeteria) for fifth hour, the best lunch period, we're stuck with sixth hour, which means we have five classes before lunch, but only two after. We don't have to eat in the Aula, because there's a snack bar in the high school that sells hot dogs and sandwiches, and if we buy food there we can take it anywhere we want except the library. But today, I don't feel like a rubbery hot dog served on a baguette instead of a real bun, so I head over to the Aula.
Hot lunch is schnitzel and the traditional German side dish Salzkartoffeln, which are peeled potatoes boiled in salt water. A pretty good lunch, all in all. Very German. On my way back to the high school, I pass Mr. Germann. Funny name, right? He looks like Jabba the Hutt and is about as nice. I glare at his back as he passes by.
I get to the library and say hi to Pam the Librarian, also known as Pamarian. She's super awesome. I plop down in a chair in the back near my friends Lea and Vickie and spend the rest of the lunch break doing what I do best: reading. Oh, and staying under the radar of Lutz the assistant librarian. He can find fault in pretty much anything you do. Nobody is an exemplary library patron to Lutz. The only catch is Lutz only speaks German, so you often see him trying to mime out an order to a non-German speaker. It's really quite funny.
After lunch I hurry over to gym, known to Germans as "Sport", in the gym building. Sport is lots of fun if you can hit a tennis ball against a wall 20 times in a row, sprint 75 meters in under 13 seconds, and do a cartwheel on the balance beam. I can do none of the above, so Sport isn't much fun for me. Today we work on basketball. Basketball is one of my favorite sports because I get time to catch up on my sleep during Frau Aurich's long German lectures about the rules of the game that nobody cares about. Then we practice passing. Fun fun fun. No, not really, it actually sucks.
Last but not least comes the high point of my day: biology! Frau Hesse, who I also have for Geography, teaches it. We look at stuff under a microscope. Plant cells, onion cells to be exact. I accidentally nick my finger with the razor blade while slicing an onion. Just out of curiosity, I dab a bit of blood on a slide and peer at it under a microscope. So this is what blood looks like. Cool.
"Hey Ceci, look at this!" I beckon. "It's my blooooood!"
"Nice!" Replies Ceci as she focuses the microscope.
Our fun ends when Frau Hesse walks by and asks what we're looking at.
"Uhh.... cut myself on accident and wanted to see what the blood looked like 200 times bigger. That's all." I hope there's no rule against looking at blood. But of course there is.
"Oh, Olivia. That's against school rules. You could give someone AIDS." Frau Hesse reprimands, but she doesn't really look mad. It’s not like I have AIDS. She then makes me throw away the contaminated slide. Ceci and I giggle when Frau Hesse turns her back.
I head regretfully out of the classroom and over to basketball. I'm terrible at the sport. I've never liked it very much, but my parents made me choose a sport. I wish I had chosen lacrosse. I only get hit in the face with the ball a few times today, and I only jam one finger, a new record. Mr. Baildon is probably the second most demanding gym teacher on Earth. The first is Mr. Guettler, my current gym teacher in Bozeman.
I'm so tired by the time that 5 o'clock rolls around that it seems like a miracle that I make it to the train station. I collapse on to the train heading for Oranienburg and get off after six stops, at Friedenau. I thank the god of tiny, cramped apartments in ugly orange buildings that our home is right next to the train station. I trudge up four flights of stairs, almost tripping more than once, and stumble into our apartment. Dad is making spaghetti in the kitchen and Avery is working on some homework, so I set my stuff down, walk into my closet, and crash on my mattress. All I can think is: thank God I don't have homework.
Dinner is tasty, which is good because I'm starving. But then again, I'm always starving. Afterwards, I check my email and Facebook on the computer. Then I have to put away some dishes, so I do that and then go read. By 9:30 my thoughts are mixed in to one incoherent jumble: Mmmmm...bednoreadgottasaynighttodadnoIdon'tmustbrushtteethbutIusuallydosoIcanskiptonightcan'tI? Soooootired.....Ishouldsleepbutwanttoread.
In the morning, I wake up in a closet.