Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Die Friseurin and Other Tidbits

* Yesterday was my first trip to the Friseurin - the German hairdresser. It was of course far overdue, as I've been here almost 8 months now. I have hair that is part-curly and part-straight and it's a nightmare to get it cut even in the US where there is no language barrier, so I really put off going here. However it started to get pretty ragged-looking recently and I really had to go.
It actually wasn't that bad. Her English was better than my German, so English it was. I know, this doesn't give me any practice, but I really think haircuts are important and I didn't want a major miscommunication. I actually think the experience was better than most of my American haircutting experiences. She did, like all American hairdressers, comment on how weird my hair was. (Is it really that unusual?? I can't be the only one.) But, unlike American hairdressers, she thankfully did not tell me to straighten it.
She also asked me if I was from ENGLAND! I'm not sure if she really thought maybe I was from England or if she was just trying to not offend a potential English or Canadian person by suggesting they were American. (This happens - often.)
Anyway - haircut survived. Whew.

* Having been raised in the psychological environment of the US, I respond with fear to sensational news topics just like they want me to. I wish I could shake this. The latest is these damn ticks which spread FSME - Early-summer Meningoencephalitis. It makes you brain dead (per rumor regarding what happened to a friend of a friend who got it) and you get it from a tick as tiny or tinier than the ones in the US that spread Lyme disease. Great. Pretty much everyone here is vaccinated, but of course being a foreigner I am not. The full vaccine is given over a year so even if I start it I won't be completely protected until next year at this time. And the vaccine causes a 40-degree fever! Sounds fun! It can also cause arrhythmias, which I already have, so I don't really want more of them. But, given I don't know what my chances are of getting one of these ticks, and what proportion of the local ticks carry the disease, I guess getting the vaccine since everyone has it might be a good idea. I can't really win - it's the terror of the possibility of going brain dead from some stupid tick, vs. the terror of sitting through a 40-degree fever and arrhythmias. Whaa, the whole thing makes me irrational.

* New Bjork today! Her (excellent) new track "Wanderlust" may appeal to some of the expats out there (and to others, it won't).

i am leaving this harbor
giving urban a farewell
its inhabitants seem too keen on god
i cannot stomach their rights and wrongs
i have lost my origin
and i don't want to find it again

* What's up with the medical names of products in Germany, such as toothpaste and lotion? In the US, toothpaste names are anything that might give a crisp, fresh idea - and lotion names are supposed to sound soothing and natural. Here, there are names like Blend-a-Med and Elmex for toothpaste, and Bepanthol for lotion. And these aren't products just for the elderly who like their old-school stuff, they are the regular products. I don't think these overly-medical names would market well in the US. (Though the US does have some doozies - Pepsodent comes to mind - fresh, yes, but still rather medical with that "dent" ending.)

* When friends and rented a paddleboat in Washington DC (hard to forget - it was Sept 10 or so, 2001) we all had to ride out in these puffy, hot, bright orange safety vests. They wouldn't let us get in the boat until we had them on.
They have paddleboats on the Neckar too. No safety vest on a single person. People stand up and dance on them, too! Is it a culture of safety in the US? Or a culture of not getting sued? (ie Is there a law that they must be worn, or is the company doing it to cover their asses?) Whatever it is, they don't have it here.


  1. It's the getting sued thing. Your life vest tale reminds me of a joke: What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of a lake?

  2. oh man everybody is talking about bjork and it makes me want to buy buy buy!

    incidentally, in germany they must not care whether or not you buy buy buy, that's why they don't sell you weirdly named stuff! although they did sell you the happiness body wash! so there goes that theory!

    i'm pretty sure i expect pictures of your haircut, stat.


  4. I've been here 5 years and haven't had the vaccine. I never heard of this issue until this year, now it's suddenly all over the news. So, us unvaccinated folks are probably okay. Maybe? I hope! Maybe it has something to do with the mild winter and they are expecting a lot of ticks this summer. That would suck.

  5. We have a little safety training course and my work called something like "tick safety". I assume it's also about the getting sued thing. (I haven't had to take it, thank goodness.)

  6. Ian: A good start? ;)
    I take it you saw the recent story about a guy who is a judge suing his dry cleaner for something like 65 million dollars because they lost a pair of his pants! Painful.

    Sara: You need Bjork! I read some more about the vaccine and it didn't sound as bad as what I originally read. Still, I'll never be able to put what I originally read out of my mind!

    Christina: Yeah, it must just be that they expect more ticks to be around. Ugh, ticks are bad enough even when they are not carrying disease!

  7. Mary: Ew, lots of ticks on Long Island too? Do you work outside a lot?

  8. I loved going to the Frisuerin ... partly because she was so cute, and partly because she did a great job cutting my hair. :-)

    First time, we started out in German, but I didn't want to take a chance on giving her bad instructions. But then I threw caution to the wind and told her to just do something she thought would look good.

    Funny ... I had a lot of people ask if I was from England too. I figure it was largely because of the proximity to England, and there are a lot of English tourists that come over.

  9. The FSME issue (and vaccination scare) has been around for like 20 years, in particular around Heidelberg.
    The chance of even seeing ticks around here are pretty low (to my experience) unless you regularly run through the Odenwald. And i mean through the forest itself.
    Oh, and of course ticks also transmit other stuff far more often than FSME, like borreliosis, which you can't be vaccinated against at all.

  10. I know this is a year late but I have to ask: where did you get your haircut in Heidelberg? I am in desperate need of a trim and would prefer an English-speaking Friseurin (my previous attempt in HD has left me a little shy as it required some home repair). :)

  11. Anon: It was a place called Haircut across from Das Carre. Not exactly fancy, but it was ok for what I wanted at the time.


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