Monday, January 25, 2010

Life in Germany

This is not what I am supposed to be doing right now. I am supposed to be working on my novel. But as I sit here, one hand wrapped around a cup of coffee in an effort to defrost my fingers, I can't help but reflect on life in Germany.

We really like it here. Much more than we thought we would, to be perfectly honest. Despite living in a city with a reputation for rudeness, we have found wonderful friends and helpful neighbors. We love the fact that public transportation, bike paths, and greenways make it easy to get around without a car (we do not have a car, not for any high-minded environmental reasons, but because we sold our car before moving and never got around to buying one here... they're expensive... we don't need one... why bother?). In all, we quite like living in Germany.

But there are some negatives. Why, for example, the frozen fingers, when I am sitting inside?  Because the windows were all wide open a few minutes ago, and it is currently -11 outside (Celcius, 12 Fahrenheit) with a nice, brisk breeze blowing.  And why, you ask, are the windows open?  Because I was told it was the only thing I can do to fight the mold growing on the walls of our apartment. 

Yes, mold. On the walls of almost every room. Germans talk about mold like the weather, as a friend of mine commented last week. It's true, too. Everyone I know has mold problems in their home. How can that be?  The people who run our building claim it's the high-quality windows that trap moisture inside (which is why we must, without fail, open the windows every day, something Germans are oddly loathe to do, but that's fodder for another post).  I strongly believe it's the lack of insulation on the walls, which are nothing more than concrete. The walls are cold, the moisture condenses, and voilĂ , mold has a veritable petri dish for proliferation. 

Until we bleach the walls, that is (good thing we left them white).  I do not like having to spray bleach in the bedrooms, particularly the children's rooms, but I am told this is the only other option available to me in my fight gegen Schimmel.

The Germans are intelligent people, so how is it they have not figured out a way to fix the perpetual mold problem?  I am baffled by this, as I have never before lived in a place where mold grew on indoor surfaces like a carpet. 

But no answer appears to be in sight, and so I simply add opening windows to my list of daily activities... along with drinking excessive amounts of coffee to keep my poor fingers warm. And I focus on what we like about living here, rather than the negative.

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