Thursday, July 17, 2003

Preserving my sanity (formerly Discovering my Research) part VII

Day 15: After the nuttiness

After the aforementioned incident (BTW, she also through out a good onion,
and the carrots went bad the next day) I wondered around Cologne. I brought
my little guide book with me and decided to take one of the walk that it
suggested, which started around Neumarkt (the shopping area) and went west.

It was a little hot in Cologne, in the lower to mid nineties with some
humidity. The trains were not well air-conditioned, and therefore not
pleasant to ride. People were everywhere in the streets. Moving around took
some time with all the foot traffic.

The shopping district had changed a lot in the four years since I was last in
Cologne. There were all sorts of new stores, bigger stores. One of them,
Kaufhof, was about the size of a Parisian department store. Was it there
before? I could not believe I could have missed something of such gargantuan

In the middle of the commercial madness was the Antonitekirche. It was built
as the chapel for a brotherhood that took care of the sick in the late
thirteenth century. It had been damaged during WWII. Much of the artwork
inside is very modern, including the haunting Schwebende (“the one who
floats”), a memorial to those who died in both world wars.

I started to walk up Augustinerstrasse. There were several Churches that had
been turned into museums–alas it was too late in the day to see them. In
fact it was getting pretty late for this tour, and I was getting hungry. So
I stopped short–very short–of completing my walk. I went to Osha’s, the
vegetarian place run by nutty cultists. The food is good and cheap, the
atmosphere is relaxed. I bought a pen and a small pad of paper. While I ate
I started to write a new proposal. I must have returned to the apartment by
11. Everyone was asleep.

Day 16: The Disaster

I woke up early. It was too hot to sleep with the windows close. And I
wanted to get some work done, slipping out before I had to confront anyone.
I got to Dusseldorf early, did almost six hours of work in the archives
(really good quality), and decided that I would look around the city some
more. I left the computer at the apartment so that I would be lighter this
day. However, both of the pens that I had bought in the previous days ran
out of ink (I was a little disappointed.) I went to a department store,
which usually have a stationary section, to by some refills. I was not
certain what kind they would take. I took out both pens, unscrewed them,
took out the old ink and compared it to see which would fit. I held two
disassembled pens and two spent ink cartridges and and two new cartridges in
the other. When I payed, I instinctively put the disassembled pens and spent
cartridges into the pocket of my shirt. When I got outside I learned that
one of them was not completely spent–a large black dot was forming on my

I had no choice but to go back to Cologne, at the very least to replace my
shirt. Another day ruined. I am still trying to work out the stain, which
is slowly coming out. (The landlady was at least kind enough to tell me
about a product that might work well, but I have yet to find it.)

On the brighter side, I found a really neat CD box set. Music is expensive
in Germany. However, when things go on sale, it is a huge bargain. This is
especially true for classical music. I have not spent that much, choosing a
few things that I thought would keep me busy–two operas, both of which were
works by Czech-Jewish composers who later were victims of the Holocaust. I
already listened to them several times and needed something new. I found a
six-CD set of the organ music of Olivier Messiaen (he was just a KZ prisoner,
where he composed a quartet for the instruments that were available to the
camp prisoners.) I got it for 45 euro, which made me happy.

Day 17: Too boring to describe

I did not do much today other than spend time at the archives. I learned
that the wife of my friend who lives in Hamburg is expecting any day. I
thought about visiting him, although this weekend would not be a good time.
(I has smarts!) I had a beer, bought some replacement groceries. I will be
more entertaining soon, I swear.

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