Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Be Loud

Greetings from Vancouver, Canada! I’m here for a little while for work and (I hope) to eat my weight in sushi. I was hoping to blog while over here, but I had no idea how quickly I would have something to blog about.

If you are too busy to read the whole blog, here is the message: if you or someone else is in danger, be loud. Forget polite and well-behaved. Get and be loud.

If you’ve got some more time, enjoy the rest of the blog.

As is standard operating procedure for me these days, I had a seat almost at the very back of the plane. This usually means that the airline runs out of cabin food before they get to me, so I end up with a first class meal (this time lamb) and I have a shorter walk to the bathroom and generally easier access to water throughout the flight. As is also usual, I took a short nap at take off and then settled into watching a movie (this one was Date Night - good comedy). As to be expected the airline issue earphones had two settings: loud enough to get a massive headache and quiet enough to hear everything going on around me. I chose the quiet enough to hear everything going on around me setting. And thank goodness.

About twenty minutes into the movie and about three hours in our flight, an older gentleman sitting just one row back from me started to have some sort of breathing and/or heart issue. I only noticed because I heard a half-whispered, half-statement of “Help” from a weak female voice. The call for help was respectful, decent, and the all holy “well behaved”. It was just loud enough to carry across a few seats. Yet as quiet as the voice was, it carried an undertone of panic and fear. Otherwise, the very small group of people wouldn’t have turned around to look at its source; one of those people was me.

I‘m not a doctor - obviously - but the gentleman sitting next to the well behaved passenger did not look good. His skin was pale, almost grey. It was that shade of grey is described in many books, especially those written in the late 1800s with an ailing heroine. It was also the color I saw in my papa’s face in the days leading up to his death. It wasn’t a healthy color and it was obvious that this guy was not in a healthy moment. It was also obvious that Ms. Well-Raised wasn’t going to get the help that was required. The man looked as if he could die - no exaggeration - and a polite call for help wasn’t what he needed.

Without much thought, I turned around to face forward into the cabin and channeled my inner cheerleader, my inner Sue Sylvester, opened my mouth, filled my lungs, and powered out the call to action, “HELP!”

A number of people turned but no one moved; I knocked it up another level and yelled out another “HELP!”

Suddenly it was as if the cabin had been rocked: passengers stood up, turned around, and stared. Air stewards sped in our direction. Soon the man was surround by professionals and breathing from some sort of tank with his shirt unbuttoned. Within minutes a very calm - but also very loud - announcement went out for a medical professional, which was answered by a calm, yet loud professional who gave short, clear directives for care.

The obviously extremely ill man was taken to the back of the cabin - one row away - and a few hours later he returned to his seat, still obviously not doing well. The heat of the moment passed and the doctor as well as the stewards continued to monitor him. Upon leaving the plane he was more than weak and was carefully taken off to customs.

The experience was scary. We were up in the air, far enough into the journey not to turn around but very far away from our destination. I don’t know how these things work and really it didn’t matter because the man looked like he was going to die. Going. To. Die. That is just scary. And it isn’t the kind of scary in with manners matter.

For me what was the scariest about the whole experience was not that the man was obviously ill. It wasn’t that we were in a plane, although that didn’t make it pleasant. What scared and scares the shit out of me is that the person next to him seemed to put being well behaved above getting a fellow human being help. I’m positive the man would have gotten help with my call or not. Sure, maybe fewer people would have realized what was happening. Maybe no one would have stared. Maybe a call for a medical professional could have been done in a less public manner. Maybe the entire experience would have been less embarrassing and less public. Maybe it would have ended just as well.


In cases like these, I suggest not doing the “maybe“. I suggest skipping the lessons we all got drilled into our souls about being well behaved. Instead, I suggest you get loud. Then you stay loud until the danger has passed. Sure, be calm if you can - I wasn’t - but be loud. With capital letters: LOUD. Make a scene because if you are calling for help, if you feel that you are in danger, what you need is noise and a scene.


If you think that you will hesitate when that moment comes, if you think that you will limit yourself or be limited by being “well behaved” when the moment comes, start practicing. Start being loud when you don’t need to be. Practice yelling “help!” and making a scene. There is a reason why this is the first lesson in every self-defense course out there. It is critically, crucially, life-saving important that you are LOUD.

So don’t worry about being a fool or looking like a fool or making a mistake or pissing people off or getting stared at or anything of those foolish limitations: practice being loud. It might save a life, and that life might be yours.



Monday, August 30, 2010

To Someone Very Special

My dearest wish for you was in PostSecret this week.

Be free, dear friend, to live your life. I hope that life provides you more energy than it takes. You really rock.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Hollaback, Dear Friend

Last week my writing professor, personal mentor and dear friend, Bruce Dobler, passed away. There is so much to say about Bruce that I can’t even begin to cover it in a blog. Instead, I’ll share my Bruce defining moment from my decade with him in my life.

Bruce visited Germany, a country he felt deeply connected to, four times during my time living here. Each time he visited, we always found time to spend with each other. The second time he came over, he popped up to Heidelberg where I was living at the time. It was a phase of searching in my life and I was especially thankful for his visit, which I knew would help me get to some answers for myself. We were walking down the main pedestrian street in Heidelberg and deeply discussing why I still wasn’t writing – which he continued to find shocking and disappointing and was the first real conversation we had on each of his visits – when suddenly Bruce started jutting one hip out and then the other. At first I assumed he was in pain from his ongoing medical issues and spun, a little panicky I’ll admit, to help him.

But on second glance I realized Bruce wasn’t in pain and nothing was wrong. Instead, Bruce was dancing. Right there on the middle of a busy street in Heidelberg on a warm day with lots of sun and window shoppers. And Bruce wasn’t just dancing. Man, he was grooving. I knew from stories and pictures that he was an avid swing dancer but I had no inkling of how vividly this small, yet bear-like man with a fluffy tummy and white beard could swoosh his hips, keeping his lower and upper body in rhythm not just with each other but also with the music. Nor could I have imagine how joyfully he could bring his round bearded face, his bushy white eyebrows, his thick fingers and, good lord, even his sandaled feet into play - all on beat and all filled with exhilaration.

Before my laugh could come, before I could understand that moment of real joy - a rare moment of an adult just letting go and letting it jive – it was over. But I will never forget that moment, watching Bruce rock the main street to Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl.

So, here’s to you, Bruce. Thanks for so much.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm Sorry - How Old is That Thing Again?

A number of weekends ago, the Mr. and I had breakfast with some good people that we don't get to see very often. We drove over to their little village and enjoyed a too yummy breakfast with one coffee too many for me (as always) next to a well that was first mentioned in 764.

Yup, you read that right: 764. And thats just the first time the well was mentioned, so who knows when it was first used.

764 - that was about, um, a hell of a lot of years before some white folk popped around to my continent. Depending on which theory you believe, it might have even been before the Native Americans took their long walk to the wide prairie plains of North America and/or just a few hundred years after Jesus walked the face of the Earth. Which ever one you wanna go with - point is my first comment was a very clever:

"I'm sorry - how old is that thing again?"

The proof is in the pictures.

Good People

Super Old Well - check out the dates on the pillar 764 - 1964


Monday, August 23, 2010

Little Precious and Clever Mommy

We recently had visitors for a weekend: Little Precious and her parents. The family came up to celebrate a wedding and we were lucky enough to welcome them into our home. Technically the entire family were all equally our guests, but, really, who doesn’t totally fall in love with a one year old little girl with a sweet smile who kisses knees in the morning? No parents can ever compete with that.

Unfortunately I was too enchanted by Little Precious to take pictures. So I only get to share this singular, rather unflattering picture. Little Precious loves eggs and this is a bad image of her trying to suck each and every last morsel out of the egg shell. Her mommy had already tricked her into eating and enjoying all sorts of things – bread, fruit, sausage, etc – from the egg shell. Somehow being a mom must make you super clever.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Mr. is Gonna Be Famous

At S&K's wedding this past weekend, friends of the bride and groom put on a fan-tab-u-lous dance routine.  The Mr. danced in the Gents routine and with those moves I bet he's gonna be famous.

For strange technical reasons that I'm not willing to research through to fix, I've had to load the three videos in different mediums. A little confusing, but I hope that you enjoy the more than impressive dancing!

The Ladies:

The Gents
This gents dancing video is on Facebook. Let me know if there are any problems watching it!

The Bridal Pair



Lovely, Lovely Wedding Celebration

The Mr. and I got to celebrate a very special wedding today with two lovely people. Congrats again to the special pair!

The service took place in a chapel above one of the little towns in our area. The Mr. and I got there a bit earlier than necessary, so we goofed around a little bit - and the model contest continues:

The Mr.

The Mrs.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Smile of the Day

It has been so busy recently with excellent guests, home projects, and life in general that we have both been very tired at the end of the day. When I stumbled upon this older picture - with the old couch - I thought it was the perfect representation for how tired, but happy, we both are these days.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sometimes a little bit of change makes a big difference. The Mr. and I have lucked into a new couch - exactly the type of couch in exactly the color I have been secretly (hear the Mr. chuckle at that) wishing for our home.



A cuddle couch!!!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happily Married: Grocery Shopping

Dearest readers, I do not grocery shop. I mean, I pop in and grab a few apples or a bottle of wine but the actually grocery shopping? Not so much. My role is more along the lines of writing down what we need and waiting (with minimal complaining) for the grocery fairy to bring along the miracle of groceries in our pantry and refrigerator.

Thankfully I married a man who believes that the role of grocery fairy is a good one; who holds the opinion that I am a wretched grocery fairy; and assumes happily (?) the job with all of its advantages and disadvantages. Well, unless, he thinks I’ve been a little too picky or too thankless about the grocery fairy recently. Then he suddenly won’t have ‘time’ and will nicely ask if I might please do the shopping this one time. Actually, ignore the words ‘nicely’ and ‘ask’ there: the Mr. clearly states that I’m going shopping. Clever, clever man I married.

I suppose I have been rather picky and unthankful recently because this week the Mr. turned to me and said, “I won’t have time to go shopping. Could you go?” (It wasn’t a question, ignore the punctuation)

So, I went grocery shopping on Friday on my lunch break. And the experience once again confirmed that I don’t grocery shop. There are just too many darn options. The shelves are set up all levels of strange. The lines are long and annoying. The cashiers are less than friendly. The bags on the walk home and then up the four flights of stairs are heavy. Unpacking the bags is annoying. The Mr. reminding me that I missed stuff or bought the work things or, well, just didn’t do as good a job as the official grocery fairy.

To get the full scope of what I’m talking about here: the building with the blue roof is the store where I do my grocery shopping. The picture is taken from the inside of our house, so its not the farthest of walks:

The 3 flights of stairs we climb each day:

The groceries we require for a long weekend with guests:

So another trip to being happily married from Mrs. Steinbach: say thank you each and every day to the grocery fairy. No, actually, say thank you twice a day.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Better Version of Windows

I work in the corporate world which means I have the immense joy of working with Microsoft Windows each and every day almost all day. Sometimes I may lose my temper and take the error messages a little too seriously.

Thankfully a clever developer is currently working on the following solution:

Yes, indeed, I would like a glass of wine.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Naked Hikers Are Not Normal

Last weekend the Mr. and I helped celebrate a special person’s 40th birthday in a very tiny town called Silz in the Pfalz, also called the “Rhineland-Palatinate” in English. We stayed in a gem of a hotel with excellent hosts, comfortable rooms, a very chilly swimming pool, and a yummy breakfast buffet. There were seven of us in total, ranging from “a little older than mid-forties” to almost 30. While the Mr. and I had to suffer through a few “aren’t you both still so young” ribbings, I think the old people really held their own weight.*

On the first evening, we each enjoyed our personal water weight in wine. This led to rolling laughter, fabulous jokes (even my mother’s groan inducing mole-ass joke hit the table), and particularly fantastic dancing to the piped in music. I recall Abba being quite enthusiastically welcomed by us all. And all of this in the biergarten of an unsuspecting and completely empty restaurant, to the great amusement of the owners.

On the second evening we all went to a wine festival in a neighboring village and enjoyed conversation, chilled wine, and yummy flammkuchen.

*The old folks actually took a four-hour hike while the two ‘babies’ stayed in the hotel and slept off the wine. On said hike the folks stumbled onto four to eight (number unclear) hikers enjoying the summer air while wearing backpacks, socks, and hiking boots. And. Nothing. Else. I swear naked hiking is not normal in Germany, but I’m still a little sad our friends failed to get a picture!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Summer Picnic

Last weekend was the second annual summer picnic for the Heidelberg International Professional Women’s Forum. The Mr. and I missed the first annual picnic, so this was the first time that I met a number of the members' partners and children. It was a wonderful day – great weather, lovely people, a tiny grill, and a tough game of football.

Guess who won?

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