Saturday, October 31, 2015

A short story

Inspired by an interesting blog (Written by you) and the story Famously Infamous I wrote this short little story.

It's my turn

It's my turn now. I know it. But where to hide? Where to seek help? There's nowhere I could possibly go and nobody who could possibly help me. It is too late now. I'm deeply involved. He's here right beside me in my bed.

Two years I waited for him. Two years I missed him, was faithful, always visited, brought him whatever he wanted and when he finally was released I embraced him with all my love and was glad to see him full of energy, ready to re-start life.

I didn't see how twisted and screwed he was, took him back into my house and my bed, had big dreams.

He hates to be famous for that damned video. Hates being famous for being pummelled. That video was the reason for his suffering in prison. All the abuse.

I thought he had overcome all that. It was over. Nobody recognizes him anymore. The video is long forgotten.

Until he told me.

At first I didn't take him seriously, thought he was joking. But he was not.

Today I saw it in his eyes, the desire to be finally caught, to be found, to be famous of his own accord. He wants to go back, respected and feared.

Two months have passed. In the beginning he always came home filled with joy, satisfied that he did it again. Seeking approval he told me in detail, how he bought the knife and stuck it into the next old guy passing the street or went to buy a gun and shot the vendor. Or the poor girl he strangled in the park. He was so proud of all these random kills.

I did nothing to stop him. Nor did I leave. I thought it would stop, but it didn't.

The police never came. Now there is no joy anymore, merely exhaustion. He's tired, disillusioned.
Nobody besides me knows what he's done.

His thirst for fame is unbroken. I saw it in his eyes. And I'll be the victim to send him back to prison as a celebrity. That's his aim. I'm the target.

Now, after aggressive and passionate sex, appropriate for the last time, he's lying by my side. Drunk as usual, breathing hard and snoring.

Torn between love, fear and hatred I look at him.

He still has the chance to wake up.

But he won't.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


This is supposed to be the last post of this "Journey Journal". I'm back home, glad and grateful for this wonderful experience.

People ask me what I liked most. I can't give an answer. The cities, the coast, everything was even more beautiful than I had expected! I don't know about other arts of the country, but what I've seen is just overwhelmingly awesome!

Wonderful nature, beaches, rocks, trees, flowers, animals, sunsets, weather.....and interesting towns with piers (some have a pier but don't have an harbor), big cities full of life.

There seems to be an international flair, because you see people of all the races on the streets, much more than here, but then there's Chinatown or the Mexican quarter. I don't know how much of a melting pot it really is, co-existence or one nation?
There sure is patriotism, flags everywhere, fleet week. But there's as much patriotism for California as there is for the United States. And all the ethnic groups raise their own flags.

The American Dream has come true for a large group of people in this part of the country. The state may be broke, but some are obviously quite wealthy. Billy's friend made a fortune in California, just as the gold diggers made then.
But others live on the streets. Homeless, hungry, addicted, ill, depressive...lost.
Outstanding differences are eye-catching.

It's a fascinating country and I'd love to go again. There's so much I haven't seen yet. I didn't talk enough with these open and friendly people.

I hadn't anticipated that I'd love it that much.

Driving, signs and other differences

I want to mention here some of the differences I noticed during the two weeks. I'm well aware that in two weeks you can't know a country. But while travelling I met things that were obviously different, besides the weather, the landscape or the language.

The first impression I got after landing at LAX was how friendly everybody was.
This impression stayed with me during these two weeks.
I don't know, if all these smiles and wishes for a great day are genuine or just good behavior, but it feels good, brightens my mood.


The next thing I noticed was that traffic is a lot different. I hadn't expected that there are different driving rules. I thought those were universal. I was wrong.            
Obviously Americans prefer tellng over showing. I'm sure anybody who doesn't speak English can follow the rules.
Where have all our nice signs gone? I'll put jut two examples here, there are many more.                        

It is allowed to turn right with red traffic lights, there's no rule "right before left", so everybody has to stop at every crossroad without lights and they have to guess who was first. Sometimes that's confusing, but coming from left you won't have to wait an eternity. And STOP means really STOP, even if there's no one in sight.

There's no rule to pass only on the left lane. I thought this was dangerous, but I saw that they change lanes much less than in Germany, because they all drive with the same (relatively slow) velocity and there's no need to change lanes.

It's great to be a pedestrian in California! They always stop to let you cross the street, even if you don't intend to.
But if you need to change lane in full traffic, it's difficult. Suddenly all this politeness is lost.

All in all they drive much more civilized than in Europe.

Directions offen are given only as North or South, not the next town. When you see the coast, it's easy, but shall I know where is East???
At construction zones you actually see workers holding signs (all day?). As if that wasn't enough there's a sign to inform you that soon you'll see one of them. 


Besides the strange traffic signs I found some other very interesting signs.

It's a really dangerous country!!


An other striking difference: You never know what you'll pay! Yes, there are prices on the menues and price tags on the goods, but that's not what you'll pay.
There's always the tax. Sometimes one, sometimes more (state tax, county tax). 
In restaurants you are supposed to pay the tip, at least (and that's bad service) 10 %. Good service may change the price remarkably.
Percentage calculation as an every-day-challenge.

I can't judge if life is cheaper or more expensive. Fuel is much cheaper, shampoo and dairy goods are shockingly expensive, clothes cost about the same, but there are many thrift stores. Medicine seems to be cheaper, cigarettes not.
As everywhere else you need to find out where to buy.


Most houses are built of wood, even the roofs, even buildings that seem built with bricks.

Windows open either upwards or outwards but never inwards and shutters are mounted on the inside. Door knobs and toilet flushing systems are different, keys turn the other way. Fire escape staircases are common (as we all know from movies).


Yes, it's true. Everything seems to be bigger. The ocean is bigger, the beaches larger, the cities are bigger, the skyscrapers are higher, the cars are huger, the fields larger, the trees higher, the streets larger.....
So are the portions you get in restaurants. Two appetizers and two meals are easily enough for 4-5 persons - and no waitress is wondering about such an order, they'll just bring you some extra plates.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


The chances were bad. At 11 am we arrived at the airport, said good-bye to Uschi and Billy and tried to find out wether we would fly or not. Nobody could tell us and Susan und Meike got really anxious. Meike insisted we should try to book instead another flight with United, nobody knew if the chances were better, they sent us continually from one counter to the other. It seemed best to try our chances with the original flight. After check-in and passport control we learned that there were seven people on the waiting list.
If there'd be only place for one of us, we'd send Meike home. I needed Susan as staff member to change the booking (without paying full price for a new ticket). We'd have to get back through pass control, search our lugagge, try to find a flight...Again without knowing how the chances are.

I was surprisingly calm. I prayed for a solution, knew that Uschi, Billy, Philipp and Lisa were also praying. And I knew that God would find a way. And so it was. We all got on the flight as planned.

The flight was uneventful, again I couldn't sleep and set among strangers in the middle. The train home was delayed, it was cold, I was tired, my cell phone didn't work and I couldn't tell my familiy when to come to the station and I had to walk home with my lugagge.

At 4 pm Saturday afternoon I was finally home again.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The last night

The last full day, the last night.
It's 7.45 pm and I'm sitting with my coffee from Peet's in front of a mall. Once again. The others went to eat pasta. I'm not hungry. I can cook pasta every day at home.
Billy wanted to go "home" at 6, but our host hasn't arrived yet and Susan and Meike were hungry. So where to go? To a mall, of course. There's always a food court...
So we passed through the city after our first real traffic jam over Golden Gate Bridge, left the city behind us, why stop, it's dark now, we won't see anything. God, what's that?! Unbelievable!
At 8.30 we'll meet again and that was that for today.
Tomorrow there won't be anything else than packing our suitcases and going to the airport in the "hope" to get on the plane.
I really don't want to be ungrateful. I've got too much to thank for. First of all for this trip. Without them I'd never have had the opportunity to come here!!

Today was a cloudy und quite cool day. We spent the morning at Stanford University. Interesting, huge, impressive, exclusive. If I had studied here...
From there we went straight to Japan: an All you can eat japanese buffet. Very japanese, but the food was nearly cold and unseasoned, but we got stuffed nethertheless, enough for the rest of the day.

We crossed the town to reach Muir Woods National Monument, a forrest of redwood trees. These trees are something special. After a walk through the woods we took a short look at Muir Beach before we decided to get back into town.

Uschi had planned a walk through Golden Gate Park, but after the traffic jam that took us about 45 minutes it was dark when we arrived. For them reason enough to skip the walk.

The next decision to be made was where to eat. Billy categorically said he can't park in the city and headed south, direction home, while Susan searched the navigation system for the next mall.
I don't even know where exactly I am right now, but it doesn't matter. All the malls are more ore less the same. There's one difference here: I'm looking at a tram station in front of the mall and the thought passes my mind to take the next tram, go downtown and leave them here.
Of course I won't do that.

I understand that Billy wants to spend time with his friend, but he needn't leave tomorrow. He and my sister always sleep early, but the 26-year old ladies?! What's wrong with me that I want to savor this experience until the last moment?
I'm not old and tired.
Perhaps they are just saturated, having seen so much of the world, travelled so many countries and cities. I haven't. I'm still excited and thrilled to be here.
I'm sad that tomorrow it's over. Back to every-day life, probably jet lag after 12 hours sitting in the plane lika a sardine in the can.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Back in the city

Yesterday we returned to San Francisco. First a walk through Chinatown. Billy says I needn't go to Hongkong - it's just the same. The girls went shopping around Union Square and we took the Cable Car uphill. A nice but expensive trip. From the last stop we walked our way back to Union Square absorbing the atmosphere of this unique city, watching people, admiring architecture, amazed by the contrasts, the variety and beauty. I drank all of it, the colors, the noises, the smells, I felt the city.

There's one distinct fact that besides the fabulous landscape and impressive architecture makes this city differ from others I've seen. People are relaxed, there's not as much stress as elsewhere. And they smile! As if there were happiness in the air.
Normally when I walk through a street and look at people they look away. Here I nearly always get a smile!

My feet were tired after nearly seven hours. My mind was not.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sacramento and surroundings

Our young ladies Susan and Meike made these three days here a shopping marathon while my sister and I discovered Sacramento with the Capitol, the cathedral, the museum about Native Americans, and Folsam's old town and prison.
Entering the Capitol was like going through the control on the airport - but surprisingly without passport or ID control. If you want to visit the Bundestag in Berlin or the Landtag in Stuttgart or the European Parliament you first have to send an application or to be invited by a member of parliament.
Here we just went in.
The prison on the other hand was intimidating and depressing. So many have died in there and couldn't even leave after death. Even their graves behind high walls... In Germany life sentence means 25 years at most, but here it's different. What may life be like knowing there's no way out?

Tonight Uschi wanted to show us the old town of Elk Grove. But that wasn't so easy, she didn't find it. We drove around this endless scenery for about half hour until we came into one street that was indeed a bit narrower and the houses were a bit older. All in all perhaps a quarter mile. I didn't expect to find an old town, but I expected the town to have something like a center, with the city hall, post office, market place, some cafés, I don't know, 160.000 people just spread out in their neat little houses or big villas, their gated communities, the broad boulevards, unbuilt-on areas in between and of course shopping centers, seems strange to me.

Tomorrow morning we are going back to San Francisco. We'll have two full days there and on the third we "hope" to leave, always stand-by.

I'm not looking forward to go from 97 F (36° C) to 50 F (10° C), from vacation to work, from carelessness to everyday worries.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Stores, stores and more stores

Is Elk Grove a typical town? I don't know - What I see here are an uncountabe nummer of agglomerations of stores with huge parking lots, unused areas in between, some parks with a playground, some widespread areas with single-family houses, no "downtown" or any kind of center.

And today we literally passed our day in these endless stores. We left the house at 10 am, had a break for a burger at an In-N-Out and returned here after 5 pm. It's unbelievable. How can anybody pass his time shopping in grocery and thrift stores? Today I did, but just because it would have been impossible to go anywhere alone without car. The distances are too big and I had lost orientation because everywhere seemed the same to me, just the names of the stores around a parking lot changed. And these are the sites worth seeing here?!

The highlight of the day was the evening service at the church my sister attends when she's here. It wasn't bad - but I was the youngest of the 20 people there tonight. They all were very friendly but definitely not my generation.

I hope Sacramento will be more interesting tomorrow.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


More than half of my time here has already passed.
So many new impressions, I've seen so many new places, and time passes too quickly.

I'm now sitting in Billy's house in Elk Grove near Sacramento. I haven't seen much of the town because we arrived here at 11.15 pm after a two-hour drive.

Today was a strange day. When we woke up the wonderful view from the villa was hidden by fog and it was cold. Until about noun it stayed like that, but in the afternoon the sun was shining bright again. Practically we haven't done many things. We passed two much time in the car looking for a parking space. But it was Saturday, Obama was in San Francisco (we didn't meet him) and it was the last day of the Fleet Week. Again there was an airshow, but from where we were we hadn't a good view. People were watching from rooftops, wherever there was a good spot to watch it was packed with people. But my sister said: "I don't understand why you're so excited. I'm a pacifist. Think of all the good things they could do with that money." I know that the same planes throw bombs on people. And when they hear the same noise it's a very different kind of excitement.

Today we had to meet another friend of Billy. He has a shop stuffed with all sorts of things. You can hardly walk in there and I don't know how anybody finds what they are looking for. Cheap souvenirs, clothes, suitcases, kitchen items, dolls,.....
Nearby, we went to a Nicaraguan Fast Food. Billy and Uschi ate with appetite but the rest of us couldn't eat it.

I wanted to buy a metallic case for self-made cigarettes. The tobacco shop had to offer a lot of things but they had never heard of such a thing. Instead they wanted to sell me plastic cases for joints.
Meike finally found the Harley Davidson T-shirts for her father, we tried to go to Chinatown, but it
was impossible to park anywhere, drove through the famous Lombard Street, visited the Palace of Fine Arts and found the street along the Pacific coast to the beaches where Billy insists that it is too dangerous to swim and nobody is swimming there.

We had to leave the city quite early. Billy's Chinese friends expected us for dinner in a Malaysian restaurant. So we tried some strange new foods, some quite good, some not really, and some just strange, like the dessert: crushed ice with coconut, beans, peanuts, corn and different kinds of jelly.
I clearly prefer American Food, as far as I've tried it.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


I seem to be the only one who needs 6-7 hours of sleep. Everybody else needs a lot more.
This is the quiet hour I have for me alone, to write and to read. Yes, I still try to read, but I just can't finish the book I've startet nearly two weeks ago!

Today was sight-seeing day at San Francisco. What a unique beautiful city!! The landscape, the houses, the colors, the feeling, the sun, .....Now I understand why everybody tells me that this city is different from other cities.

We startet our day by changing our rented Jeep with a rented Kia Van. We're one person more and tomorrow we'll have to leave to go to Sacramento, because our hosts will leave for three days.

Then we climbed on the Twin Peaks. The road was closed because of the airshow during Fleet Week. It was worth it. The view from up there is fantastic! After lunch in a small café - luckily far from any tourists, we drove to the Golden Gate Bridge.

That, of course, is a must-do. We stopped after the bridge for photos and at a small yacht harbor. Next stop Sausalito. There Billy said for the first time, that he needed a nap.

Just driving through the town is impression overload. Wherever I look is something interesting, different, beautiful. On our return to the city we stopped again after the bridge. An other round of photo shooting. And, surprise, the airshow was still going on. Now with 6 airplanes together. I hadn't expected to like it, all day we saw
some planes doing tricks, but they were quite far away, not that impressive. But now they flew several times very low above our heads, made spectacular tricks over the Bay, came back. It was exciting. For my sister it was a waste of kerosine, for my brother-in-law it was dangerous. Both true. But I admire their skills and discovered the beauty.

After that Billy and Uschi wanted their nap. Susan and Meike wanted to go shopping. Of course I joined them while Billy and Uschi parked somewhere and tried to sleep in the car. What a waste of time!

We strolled through Haight-Ashbury with it's variety of shops and people. I could have stayed for much longer to absorb the feeling of the city, but the program said Fisherman's Wharft. Billy parked about 2 miles away from there fearing not to find a place nearby. So we walked along the piers. I've no idea how many miles I've walked today, but it must have been a few. Billy wanted to eat Clam Chowder. Obviously a local speciality. I didn't try. I don't prefer soups in general and I don't eat clams.

Finally we arrived at the wharft. It is nice, expensive and touristic.

No night-life for us. At 8.30 pm Billy reminded us, that we have to go because Philipp and Lisa are waiting for us to go to bed. So we just walked back the two miles, drove about 40 minutes to Hillsborough and that was the end of the day.

One problem is obvious though: the number of homeless people. I don't judge them. They don't disturb me. I just wonder how many of them chose to live like that and how many fell through the non-existent social net.
I haven't seen anywhere else signs like "no loitering", "no soliciting". That doesn't mean anything, I haven't seen too much of the world, but still.

And there are other unknown signs: "No smoking at the seated area (outside!)" or "Smoking only on the curb at least 15 ft from the entrance". They sell "medical" Marihuana in shops, but you can't smoke a cigarette on the sidewalk.

Friday, October 9, 2015

From Monterey almost to San Francisco

Now we are almost at San Francisco. We can see the Bay Bridge from here. Here, that's the house, or better the villa, of my sister's friends. It has 5 bedrooms and each bedroom has it's own bathroom. So for the next three nights I'll have my own room and won't bother anybody with my snoring.

The friends are Chinese, just as my brother-in-law, and they're all talking Chinese. Billy and Philipp went to school together in Malaysia - now the one lives in San Francisco and the other one in Germany. But they kept their friendship over 50 years!
Their English is even worse than Billy's German.

The day startet with a good self service breakfast. Again it was a sunny, even hot day. Monterey is a very nice town, I fell especially in love with Pacific Grove. A town where "real people" live in beautiful houses in many different styles. But we read in the local newspaper that on Tuesday the police shot fatally a man near the harbor of Monterey. It seems unbelievable. The town seems so neat and quiet.
We didn't go for whale watching, because $40 per person is a lot and three hours were to long. Nor did we visit the aquarium (about the same prize).
In Connery Row we ate at a Bubba Gump shrimp company. While waiting for the really delicious shrimps we had to answer questions about Forrest Gump  Just everything reminds the movie.

It wasn't far to Santa Cruz. Another town I fell immediatly in love with. So beautiful! Susan and Meike went shopping, while Uschi and I went for a walk.The famous rides were closed. In October they open only on weekends. I didn't mind.
Again I would have loved to go to the beach, but no, again we had to leave.

The coast is so beautiful, the rocks, the dunes, the beaches, the very interesting and for us unknown flowers and trees. I look around and I can't help but praise the creator!

We hoped to see the sunset at Half Moon Bay, but about twenty miles before we found ourselfes suddenly surrounded by thick fog. We couldn't see nothing else than just the street. But God is great - just when we arrived at Half Moon Bay, the fog dissolved and the sunset was the most beautiful I've ever seen!

And as we were watching this natural phenomenon, Meike was sure to have seen the blow of a whale. For sure we all saw 5 dolphins.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Nature day

Today was our nature day.
For Meike and me the morning was relaxed sitting near the pool, Meike knitting, me finally writing my blog, sending messages. We finally found the opportunity to learn to know each other better.

When Uschi and Susan returned from Hearst Castle we continued our journey along the coast. When we had traveled about 5 miles we saw real zebras grazing together with some cows on an area where I couldn't see anything they could eat because were was no gras at all. Everything was dried up. I did expect ot see animals - but zebras?! Remnants of Mr Hearts zoo... Not even half hour later we arrived at the point where hundreds of young elephant seals were lying on the beach. Pelicanos and seagulls flying above us and the wild coast constantly changing appearance. Short time later we stopped to take a photo and we discovered two dolphins playing in the water not far from the beach.
Landscapes like deserts change to forests, wide sandy beaches to rocks, little bays, few houses, miles without any village or town. At some point we arrive at the waterfall. A fantastic view rewards us after a short walk.

We payed $10 for the 17-mile drive. Practically we payed to see where the wealthy live and it is worth the price, not because of the villas and the golf course but because of the nature and a gorgeous sunset.

Now I'm sitting on my bed in a Motel in Monterey. This one isn't as idyllic as the previous ones, but the bed is okay. Of course it's just me who is still awake, again.

Along the Coast

Sitting on a bench in the sun, smoking a cigarette while waiting for the others to get ready for our trip today. Slowly it becomes clearer that our interests differ. Susan and Uschi want to go to Hearsz Castle (and pay $30 per person), Meike would like to go shopping, see some city, and I would like to go on the beach.

We walk again through this imitation of a village and I just don't have the same appreciation for it as Uschi and Susan do. It's all so unreal and kitschy. Our breakfast was "Danish" and the water here is undrinkable, to brush teeth was a challenge and Meike couldn't drink her tea. As coffee it was bearable.

My eyes on the ocean, the wind in my face, the sun high above and shining bright. There are only few people on the beach at Pismo Beach, even fewer in the water. Of course I had to go in. The waves aren't really high, but strong enough not to let me pass to reach deeper waters.
I'm really enjoying to be here, it's amazing!

The others didn't even touch the water. They just sit on there towels and read, It's fine to read, but doesn't this gorgeous ocean pull them in?
They are very picky. No, the water isn't turquoise and unmoved, no, there's no shower, no cabin to change, no bathroom nearby, no shadow anywhere. I don't mind. I love to look at the waves, to walk along the water on this very fine sand. So beautiful!

It's 9.30 pm and all three have gone to bed. Incredible. For about half hour I tried to connect to the internet, for about 2 minutes I was connected, long enough to read my daughters message, not long enough to answer. Surely not enough to write my blog post. To think about uploading some photos is rediculous. Perhaps when we'll stay at my sister's friends' house. I hope so.

We had a great lunch at Pismo Beach. The shrimps I chose were not only very tasty, but I couldn't believe how many there were on my plate, not to mention the fantastic dip. No need for dinner tonight.

Tonight we are staying at San Simeon. We went to watch the sunset, but the wind blew so cold that Uschi and Meike went back to the room. There were three fireplaces above the beach and soon the was crackling a nice fire to warm us. It was nice to sit there by the fire and watch the sun go down and the sky go red over the blue sea while listening to the waves.
This day just ended too soon.

Everybody tells me that San Francisco will be much better than Los Angeles. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Barbara in Santa Barbara

Now we are in a Motel in Solvang. A very strange village. They seem to think it is Danish, small timber-framed houses, kitsch everywhere, illuminated trees and houses as if it were Christmas time and shops full with kitsch. No normal houses anywhere. Do people actually live here? I doubt it. Nearly all the shops close at 5 pm. We arrived here at 7.30 pm - too late for this place. After a walk through two or three streets we found an open pub, ate something, had a drink and now we are at the motel. A very typical thing just as I know it from TV. A small room with 2 king size beds, a TV a small bathroom. That's it. For one night it'll be okay.

We've seen a lot today. The morning started with bright sun and again a walk at Venice Beach. Wonderful! What a calm atmosphere, what serenity! I could have stayed there for a long time.

But we had to leave. Next stop Santa Monica.
On our way north we stopped at the Getty Villa. A building like an ancient greek palace. Interesting.

And then, what I had been waiting for: on the beach for a swim at

But my sister didn't want to get wet, Meike neither, Susan tried, but because of some small rocks in the water she preferred to sit on the bench. So I was all alone. Not really. There were some surfers. but nobody else was just swimming. 20 meters from where the rocks were there's only sand. The water wasn't cold at all. I really enjoyed it! But it was a short joy. After one hour joy at the most Meike had become quite red, Susan wanted urgently something to eat...

Next stop Santa Barbara: very chic. My sister found it very beautiful because of all the builings in Mexican style. I liked the harbor when the sky was red from the setting sun. But I didn't like the general atmosphere. It's just too much. Too clean, too quiet, too...I don't know.

I had hoped to love it because of the name. But it seemed unreal and lifeless to me. Of course the beach was appealing. But no time for that.

Now we are her in this fake village. What a strange thing. Like a museum. Again it's unreal and fake. Looks nice, but somehow it's strange: first the internationality of Venice, then the "upper" class in Santa Monica, still "upper" in Malibu.
The American Dream come true (for some), a reminiscence of Mexico in Santa Barbara and now "Denmark" at last. All in one day.

At some point the road left the coast and suddenly there were people at work on the fields, huge fields with strawberries and raspberries. In October!