I’m Back!

Oh, it’s been a crazy year, right? Between politics, social media, and natural catastrophes, it’s no wonder we’re all not twitching and aimlessly wandering about screaming obscenities. Well, maybe some of you are.

I’m going to get it out of the way, so here’s a quick run-down of my take on a few things. I don’t care for the way the U.S. politics operate with two polarized archaic parties. In my lifetime, I hope to see a change in government to include more ideas and voices (more parties) representing the ‘average’ American. For now, my blog will not comment on politics.

In the past 2-1/2 months, I’ve disconnected from social media and my life has improved. Yes, I deleted my Twitter and Facebook account. Twitter has become a bullying platform. A place where lynch mobs exist and where one can accuse, judge, and sentence someone in 140 characters. Facebook is no longer a place to share your life. It’s a dumping ground for bullying and grammatically incorrect memes. As an unknown Indie Author, this might not have been the best thing to do, but my happiness and health is much more important.

As an expat, I will continue to write about my experiences in Germany, good and bad, and make comparisons to the U.S. I’m not politically correct to the extreme, so my take on life in Germany and the U.S. might offend.

Which leads me to the last issue—opinions. I’m a believer that everyone has a voice and an opinion. As long as you’re not spewing hate, people have a right to their views. Opinions have NOT morphed into racism and hate because you don’t agree with mainstream visions. When you try to silence someone with different beliefs, you’re not only doing a disservice to them but to society. We’re all different. We have feelings about certain topics and we have a right to those feelings. It’s time we LISTEN to those opinions instead of dismissing and bullying the person.

Now onto more pleasant things that have happened this year to me. It’s been a better year. Our management company started gutting old flats a block away and a new construction project began across from where we lived. Since we have to move in early 2018 for renovations, we decided to get out quick and down the street, far enough away from the construction. It was kinda sad because it was our first flat together since we decided to make a life for ourselves in Germany. We loved the big windows and the scenery. We don’t mind where we live now. It’s okay for the next few years, until we buy land and build a home, so this is our transitional place.

For summer vacation, we drove to London (using the Chunnel). London is one of my favorite cities. There is so much to see and do there and the food markets are FABULOUS. Yes, my husband and I are into food. LOL!

After vacation, I returned full-force into revisions for my crime mystery novel, Artful Revenge, and my husband is still trying to adjust to the early hours. We’ll be driving to Tuscany and enjoying the scenery for the two weeks fall vacation. SQUEE! I love Italy.

As for blogging, I hope to slide into it slowly, and then start up regularly in 2018.

Well, that’s the quickie of my life—a bit more than 140 characters.

What have you been up to this year? Chime in about anything.

Crazy Good,
Baer Necessities

Refugee Fear

Mercy Corps

Back in 2012, when I was still living in the States, I remember listening to the news about the people of Syria. Extremists were slaughtering hundreds of innocent women and children daily. Slaughtering. Innocence. Maybe it was because I had recently lost my mother, but this really upset and bothered me. I mentioned to several people that I didn’t understand why the U.S. or other countries weren’t helping these people. One of my friends asked, “Why should we?” In return, I said, “Because it’s the right thing to do. It isn’t any different from the Holocaust. We’re still talking about the horrors of the Nazi regime, which took place over 70-years ago, yet the horrors are still taking place today. Countries should be in there stopping these mass killings.”

Fast forward to 2015, and people are pissed, and oppose taking in refugees. I say to all citizens in the U.S. and Europe, turn your anger toward your government. If all these governments hadn’t sat on their asses for years now, letting the extremists build in strength and slaughter thousands, the people of Syria wouldn’t have left their homes. Other countries wouldn’t be arguing over taking in refugees. Wouldn’t it be smart to put out the fire instead of people fleeing and other countries feeling an economic strain?

Quick facts about the Syria crisis: https://www.mercycorps.org/articles/iraq-jordan-lebanon-syria-turkey/quick-facts-what-you-need-know-about-syria-crisis

In the U.S.

I have spoken to several people in the U.S. regarding the refugee crisis. They heard how Germany had taken in hundreds of thousands, and could sympathize with Germans who oppose the refugee migration.

Getty Images – http://www.independent.co.uk/

The one thing that really bothers me is when people claim fear as a reason to refuse refugees into the country because some might be terrorists. But terrorists are the least of the U.S. problems. Obama and past presidents keep talking about the horrors of mass shootings yet haven’t taken action. One should think we would have woken up after Columbine and the government should have made it a priority. Sandy Hook. Twenty killed and the others scarred for life. Government should start working on the important issues: gun control, gangs, mental illness, and illegal immigration.

Instead, mass shootings increase each year. Shootings are considered a mass shooting if 4 or more are shot and/or killed, not including the shooter. In 2015, there were over 300 mass shootings in the U.S.http://www.shootingtracker.com/Main_Page: 367 killed and 1,317 injured.

Since 9/11, there were nine terrorist attacks in the U.S.http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/05/terrorist-attacks-by-islamists-in-the-us-since-911: 46 killed and 321 injured.

The fear of refugee terrorists doesn’t have much validity when you look at the bigger picture. Just like Donald Trump doesn’t have much validity, but is using fear to gain ground in politics. He is suggesting the outrageous because … well, he is outrageous, just look at his hair. When we give into fear, we will wind up imploding.

The problem isn’t the refugees coming into the country, but militant extremists who had left to fight with ISIS then returned. Those people are a threat to national security, not the ones running for their lives. Make it known to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents that if anyone travels to extremist countries, they will not be allowed into the U.S. for a year and will be monitored. This doesn’t affect their rights because we already do this for diseases. Citizens are tested and quarantined regarding outbreaks, such as Ebola. Terrorism is an outbreak too.

In Germany

Merriam Webster’s definition of refugee

“one that flees; especially :  a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution ref·u·gee·ism play \-ˌi-zəm\ noun

I have a friend who isn’t happy about the refugee crisis. She doesn’t care for Angela Merkel, especially her decision to open Germany’s borders to the  refugees. My friend and I were discussing the refugees in Germany. She started complaining about Romanians where she lives, who throw their garbage all over the place. I stopped her and said that Romanians are part of the EU. They are allowed to live in Germany as long as they can earn their keep. If not, then the government sends them back. It’s not fair or correct to lump them in with refugees. These people didn’t want to leave their countries, but had to for their own safety. They’d love to go back home. On top of suffering through the elements to get to safer lands, there are anti-refugee groups in Germany wreaking havoc on some refugee camps.

I understand the frustration (U.S. has their own welfare issues) knowing some people migrate to Germany to live off the welfare system, but those are EU migrants taking advantage of the situation. Germany has taken in around 1.1 million refugees (Syrian, Afghanistan, and Iraq). Due to slow processing, others have hopped on the coat tails of the refugees.

Activist Post

It’s taking so long to process these refugees, but it’s partly the local government’s fault. Where I go for my German Visa, the offices are only opened until noon, except for one day. Maybe if they extended their hours during this crisis, the processing of refugees would move much faster. Plus, tweaking the policies a bit to fit the crisis would help too. While they’re waiting, give these people some community work for a small compensation, so they’re not sitting around day in and day out. It would help them get to know where they’re at and spruce up the city. Trust me, there’s lots of garbage all over the place that could be cleaned up.

On top of slow processing, it’s mandatory for all children and teens to attend school. My husband is teaching German to one refugee class, and the school is receiving two more classes, but other teachers are teaching Physics, Math, etc. Some of my husband’s colleagues can’t believe how clueless the refugees are in their subjects. Really? How the hell is anyone supposed to take different courses when they don’t even understand the language? Concentrate on teaching German, integrate them into society, and then worry about other subjects.

Photo by Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

The refugee crisis is frightening because of the sheer numbers pouring in. But governments, who we all vote for, are responsible for keeping us safe, along with taking care of those in desperate need. That’s why we vote for them, so we should also hold them accountable. Don’t point your finger at someone who is struggling, when chaos occurs because of poor government choices, planning, and organization.

Humanity and Understanding,
Baer Necessities

Thankful List

Tomorrow, the U.S. will celebrate Thanksgiving. Germans have their Thanksgiving at the end of September, but they don’t celebrate like the U.S. Since we moved here, we started our own traditions, which include a Thanksgiving meal to commemorate the U.S. and Germany’s day of thanks. We’ll be enjoying a hearty meal on Friday, and then I will put up my Christmas decorations on Saturday. Being thankful for the things in our lives doesn’t require a national holiday, but since this is the time of season, I thought I’d list the things I’m thankful for in my life.

My Thankful List – I’m thankful…

mom and I1. to have the mother I had, who supported me and passed along her beliefs and traditions. I miss her every day.
2. to have reconnected with my father, so we could begin a new relationship.
3. to have met my husband. He is the best man I’ve ever known, and has made me a better person. 047 - Martin by Montjuic Castle
4. for embracing change and taking chances. If it weren’t for either one, I wouldn’t be living in a foreign country with my soul mate.
5. for my sister, niece and nephew’s safety and health.
6. to have the opportunity to follow my writing dream.
7. for being able to recognize my faults so I can try to change them.
8. for Autumn, because it’s my favorite time of the year.
shakes39. for my four-legged baby, Shakespeare, who is my buddy and a momma’s boy.
10. for German breads and pastries. Even though I should just tape them to my thighs and ass, I still can’t completely cut them from my diet.
11. for my bed, because it is so awesome!
12. for being three years away from 50, and still NO GRAY hairs.
13. for finding jeans in Germany that are neither skinny nor look like a dog had attacked me.
14. for coffee, because I’m a coffee snob and enjoy every drop.
15. to have my health and a strong belief in God.
45 - Irma, Nan & Me16. for receiving emails or phone calls from friends I haven’t spoken to in a while, and hear them say how much they miss me.
17. for having such wonderful memories in my life, and knowing, there are still many more to come.
18. for daily whispers of love from my husband.
19. for all the do-gooders out in the world, who keep restoring my faith in humanity.
20. for laughter, because even for a moment, laughing erases all troubles.
058 - Martin and I-121. for my blog followers and writers I’ve met along my writing journey.
22. for fresh flowers in the house, because they always brighten a room and mood.
23. for God, who has blessed me with answered and unanswered prayers, even if it took me years to figure it out.
24. to be able to travel with my best friend.
25. for finding new passions, such as gardening and cooking.

Are you in charge of the turkey this year? What are you thankful for?

Thankful list and Blessings,

Baer Necessities

Brain Farts or Intelligence Gone Awry

I’m back! Did you miss me? Over the past two weeks, my dad, his friend, my husband, and I had a great time, which included many laughs, foods, and travels. On Sunday, we said good-bye to them in Brussels.Hattingen

My husband did so much to make my dad’s visit wonderful, and I can’t thank him enough for his time, cooking, and many hours of driving. He’s not only the BEST man I’ve ever known, but he’s also damn funny. Yesterday was his birthday, so I made a nice meal for him and cooked him an Éclair cake. Today, I’d like to share one of my husband’s hilarious experiences he told us, which left my dad red from laughter.

Before settling in Germany, our original plan was to live in the U.S. We both sent out numerous resumes, along with filling out countless applications. We lived and breathed job searches. Resume and cover letter sites were the only forms of reading we did for months.

During this time, my husband received a response from a school in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, looking for a German teacher. The interview renewed our faith in the job market. Nervous as always, my husband dressed appropriately and drove to the interview. Because there are many dialects in America, and we tend to talk fast, sometimes my husband doesn’t always understand what someone is saying. His English is great, it’s just he doesn’t know some American practices, slang, phrases, or innuendos. This contributed to his nerves when it came to interviews.

But he was a trooper, preparing for all kinds of questions they may ask. While he waited in the lobby area for his interview, a man approached, introduced himself as Head of World Languages, and said he was looking forward to talking with him. A few minutes later, a woman approached, introduced herself as Head of the World Languages, and said she was looking forward to the interview. This left my husband confused. He wondered if it was normal practice to have two Heads of a Language Department.

When called into the room, the woman and man, who both introduced themselves as Head of the World Language Department, sat smiling at him. They started out by telling my husband how impressed they were regarding his written application. It was the first time they ever received an interview questionnaire completely in German. Again, my husband was confused because a) he couldn’t remember if he sent the questionnaire in German, b) he couldn’t believe he’d actually do that in the States, and c) he still didn’t know what languages the interviewers taught. His curiosity got the best of him, so he asked if he could see a copy of his application. They slid it across to him and the below is similar to what he saw, minus some black markings and such.

Garbled text and symbols my husband could only assume happened due to a printer problem. This got the best of his professionalism. He began to laugh, which they didn’t appreciate. When they asked him what was so funny, he explained to them that the gibberish text wasn’t German, but a printer issue. They looked at each other, no longer smiling, and then back at my husband. At this time, if offered, he decided it was best to pass on the position. If they couldn’t figure out German from a printer issue’s scrambled text, he didn’t want to know who or how their department ran.

Has anything funny ever happened to you during a job interview?

Interviews and German,
Baer Necessities

Kindle Me Softly

KindleWith all the free eBooks and friend’s eBooks I have downloaded over the past three years, I finally gave in and bought a Kindle. It isn’t a fancy schmancy one, just a Kindle e-reader. I’ve felt bad for not reading some people’s books and my eBook collection has grown. This doesn’t mean that I’ll quit buying paperback, but at least now I can catch up on all these books waiting to be read.

Buying books in Germany is expensive. The Kindle will help me choose which books I want in paperback. If I love the eBook, I can buy the paperback. It’s a shame it took me this long after years of eBooks collecting fragment dust on my computer.

We received the Kindle on Monday, and before fully charging it, I started to set it up. As we have learned in the past, things don’t always run smoothly. Amazon is a huge multinational corporation, which is bound to have some issues. When we got married, a former colleague of mine sent us a gift certificate from Amazon.com (U.S.). We still keep in touch. There’s no way I can forget such a kind and generous person. But I digress. It was such a thoughtful gift, but we soon found out that we couldn’t use the gift certificate on Amazon.de (Germany). If we purchased things from U.S. Amazon, we’d have to pay additional shipping costs. I contacted U.S. Amazon to see if I could have the gift certificate transferred from my U.S. account to my German account. They told me Amazon.de is a partner site of Amazon.com, meaning they operate independently, so I couldn’t do it. I did not know this. Note: For anyone who has friends and family living abroad, make sure you purchase Amazon gift cards for the country they live in.

soccer<—–This boggles my mind. My Amazon.com and Amazon.de logon information is the same. When I look up my books on Amazon.de, Fogged Up Fairy Tale, the Amazon.com reviews are auto-populated on the page.

Even though some things from the Amazon U.S. and German site can merge, wish lists and Kindle libraries aren’t included. On the Kindle, we couldn’t setup a shared family account using my Kindle library on U.S. Amazon and my husband’s Kindle library on Germany Amazon. To resolve the issue, my husband will send any eBooks on the German site to my Kindle library, and he’ll have to use his U.S. Amazon account to purchase eBooks. This was an educational experience for us.

The first book I’m reading on my Kindle is The Brubury Tales by Frank Mundo. It’s an awesome read. I highly recommend it. The story is told in rhymed verse and is “a modern version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales set in Los Angeles just after the riots. Instead of pilgrims, The Brubury Tales follows 7 security guards on the graveyard shift, who agree to have a storytelling competition to determine vacation time.” It even sounds unique and interesting!

What kind of e-reader do you own? What are you reading now? Any book recommendations?

Amazon and Kindles,
Baer Necessities