Monday, February 4, 2008

29 September: What a Week

What a strange week it has been. On Monday, Evelyne’s son Birk had his MP3 player stolen while he was in his sports class at school. Three other boys had their iPods and handys (cell phones) stolen in the same incident, for a total loss of some 1000 Euro. Evelyne was furious because the school principal decided to wait a day before calling the police in order to do his own investigating, but Evelyne’s theory is that he was trying to downplay the crime so it didn’t reflect badly on the school. Unfortunately this also happened to be the week of the German World Championship bike races (a.k.a. the Rad-WM, or Rad Weltmeistershaft), which followed a route through our very own Botnang and neighboring Feuerbach. The races created something of a traffic nightmare because at various times throughout the week, some or all of the roads in and out of Botnang were closed for race activities. Hence the normally helpful and friendly Stuttgart police have been preoccupied with handling the traffic snarls that result when you shut down the main thoroughfares in a small suburb of 10,000 people, and thus they were not inclined to be very attentive to the details of a minor school theft. Evelyne was already in a bad mood about the Rad-WM traffic closures to begin with, so this really put her over the edge. She’s done nothing but complain all week about this “stupid WM” and how it is inconveniencing everyone in Botnang and isn’t bringing in any money. Many of the sponsors have dropped out and only half of the tickets have been sold, so who is going to foot the bill for all the miles and miles of temporary fencing that had to be put up, not to mention police overtime and the like? What’s worse, a local flower shop provided the flowers decorating a stretch of Beethovenstraße and Evelyne informed me, nearly bursting with outrage, that the shop was the most expensive florist in Botnang.

I was only vaguely interested in the Rad-WM but was a little concerned about how it might affect John’s commute and my drive to my dance school on Wednesday night. Unfortunately we couldn’t decipher the complex map and directions that were kindly delivered to every household in Botnang, and when I asked Evelyne what it all meant, she said she couldn’t understand it either! We finally determined that the roads would not be closed before 8 am (after John had left for work) and would reopen by the time I needed to leave for my dance class.

That wasn’t the end of this crazy week. On Tuesday afternoon I was sitting here at my computer, finishing up an entry on my blog, when I noticed something very funny going on with my vision. It looked like fuzzy diagonal lines were dancing through the words on the screen. I thought, that’s rather odd, maybe I’ve been looking at the screen too long. It was time to take Cody for his walk, and when I was out in the stairwell I said something to Cody and my voice sounded funny in my ears, as if I was hearing myself talk outside of my own head – or rather, the way I might sound to other people. It was a bit surreal. I think I took a couple of Aleve before I left because I thought I was getting a headache. By the time I got back from our walk, I definitely felt a headache coming on, so I took a shower and then lay down on the bed to wait for John to come home. I tried to go to sleep but couldn’t get my mind off my pounding head. At some point I came to the realization that I must be having a migraine, and I even took one of John’s migraine pills. This was probably a bad idea but I was desperate. I hadn’t slept for more than a few minutes by the time John came home. I tried to sleep all evening but could never manage to drop off. I started feel nauseous later and ended up throwing up two times in the middle of the night (I hadn’t eaten anything for dinner). John gave me a second pill but it didn’t do a thing. Apparently it’s the kind of medication that you need to take at the onset of symptoms. I ended up hardly sleeping at all; I think I dropped off for a little while in the early morning hours.

By morning the most severe pain had subsided but I still had a serious throbbing sensation on the left side of my forehead. John left late and barely made it out of Botnang before they closed off the road for the bike races. I called Evelyne and told her what had happened (her son also suffers from migraines so she was very sympathetic) and went back to sleep. I ended up getting up after 9 and took Cody for a short walk, but I was pretty wiped out for the rest of the day. It felt like a bomb had gone off inside my head. I desperately wanted to go to my dance class that evening, but after taking Cody for another short walk around 4 pm, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Just swinging my head from side to side hurt, and I was still really dizzy. I tried to nap on the couch but the helicopters flying around for the Rad-WM kept disturbing my peace and quiet. I ended up calling the dance school to find out if I could make up the class next week by taking two classes, but the school is closed next Wednesday for the Tag der Deutschen Einheit (“Day of German Oneness,” as we like to call it, or the celebration of German reunification) so I’ll have to make up the class in two weeks’ time. I think I spoke to the same girl that had helped me register and she probably thought I was really lame for calling about missing a class, but I wasn't sure how their make-up policy worked. I did pretty well speaking German on the phone but I cheated by writing down what I wanted to say beforehand.

I felt much better on Thursday but my cold came back with a vengeance. Now I am terrified that I am going to get another migraine. It’s Saturday now and my head still doesn’t feel quite right. This morning we walked Cody down to Beethovenstraße to check out the women’s bike race. There was hardly anyone there aside from some random Italian fans and we stood around for fifteen or twenty minutes watching some stragglers and waiting for the main peleton to come by. When they did, they came through in a quiet swoosh of tires on wet pavement, followed by a parade of Skoda support vehicles all laden with spare bikes and tires. It was pretty much a nonevent, so we turned around and walked home. We went down again in the afternoon to watch the men's final. This time we went all the way into town and watched the peleton go around a sharp right turn. It wasn't all that exciting, although they did have a big-screen TV and an announcer so you could watch what was going on elsewhere on the course. I had never seen a bike race in person before and I was a bit surprised by how many support vehicles there were. I've always thought of biking as an environmentally-friendly sport, but there must have been fifteen or twenty cars following the racers around and around the course. Here's a video I took of the men's peleton going by:

Today we finished booking hotels for our northern Germany trip in October. It’s going to be quite a nice trip, as I have tried to find some special places to stay, including two castles and a grand old resort on the Baltic coast. I’m looking forward to this final splurge, but it is strange to think that this is the last European trip we will be planning from Germany.

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