Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

I remember watching an interview Rammstein gave on growing up in East Germany. It was pretty balanced - on the one hand they pulled no punches about the regime and how repressive it was, but on the other hand they said materially it was great: food was cheap; housing was cheap; there was always employment available…just that also came with the Stasi, etc.
 
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I remember watching an interview Rammstein gave on growing up in East Germany. It was pretty balanced - on the one hand they pulled no punches about the regime and how repressive it was, but on the other hand they said materially it was great: food was cheap; housing was cheap; there was always employment available…just that also came with the Stasi, etc.
Basically the GDR used different methods of oppression than your typical dictatorship. They have, at some times, had recruited several % of the entire population to report to Stasi on their neighbours and friends. Many did not actually report anything useful, but you never knew; the idea was to make everyone believe they live in a panopticum and any attempt to act against the regime is doomed before you could even try, so why don't you just give up, try to fit in and stop wasting your and our time, Mr Rebellious?
And it was pretty successful, in a low-level awful manner; a lot of potential anti-regime activities were suppressed without actually arresting people. If you have enough assets placed near everyone, you can just put out nasty rumours about anyone potentially "difficult", or pressure their friends to distance themselves from them, etc. Horrible but effective.
 
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My experience of Eastern Germany came about 5 years after reunification as roadie for a British punk band touring Germany.
At that point you could see more or less where the border was by the line of roadworks. The Autobahns for example, went from well maintained asphalt in the west to, (as I remember it), concrete with some VERY nasty potholes on the side. The band only played one show deep in the east in Bautzen, and I remember everything being very grey, the houses, the weather, the food. It was eye opening for sure. I met some great people.
However, this was nearly 30 years ago so my memory might not be 100% on the matter though.
I was in Berlin once before the wal fell, and the contrast between east and west was maked. After reunification I was in east germany in Leipzig and Berlin on business and Frankfurt an der Oder privately, and it was remarkable how different the sidewalks were. even now, 30 years later, I visited Greifswald several times privately, and over the years one could see how gradually the sidewalks transformed from deeply worn, uneven cobblestones partially covered to grass to what was more western german sidewalks, with asphalt and even and smooth. Just for one small difference. Also, things turned way less grey than they had ben 1988 in east Berlin.. Berlin nnowadays is a changed city for sure.
Growing up nowadays, not under the shadow of the bomb, with the red steamroller next door over the border, sure must be diferent. In the 80s that hanging sword of damocles sure influenced us teenagers a lot.
 
I remember watching an interview Rammstein gave on growing up in East Germany. It was pretty balanced - on the one hand they pulled no punches about the regime and how repressive it was, but on the other hand they said materially it was great: food was cheap; housing was cheap; there was always employment available…just that also came with the Stasi, etc.
The relatives I spoke to always explained the GDR in prison allegories. People just felt unfree even in times when materially everything was okay. It's little comfort to the prisoner that food, housing and even make-work jobs are provided for - it's still a life sentence. No wonder people started digging tunnels...
 
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I remember watching an interview Rammstein gave on growing up in East Germany. It was pretty balanced - on the one hand they pulled no punches about the regime and how repressive it was, but on the other hand they said materially it was great: food was cheap; housing was cheap; there was always employment available…just that also came with the Stasi, etc.
That's about how my grandpa talked about Yugoslavia. Everyone had jobs, his family had enough money to afford ten kids just working agriculture and stuff, then when he grew up and had kids of his own the "prosperity" improved enough that he owned a car and could afford a 10 day vacation to the seaside every year on a janitor's salary. They didn't have the newest TV or the newest car or anything but for him it was "good enough"
 
Part 139, Chapter 2393
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-Three



27th August 1975

Langeoog Island, East Frisian Islands

With so many pressing concerns in the city, it felt like Kat rarely got the chance to get away on a holiday. Escaping for the weekend was the best she could do, and Marie Alexandra was already on Langeoog. Unfortunately, Kat was learning that another one of her daughters had become something of a stranger to her. That much was clear as Marie had slept in until late morning then decided to go swimming before lunch. Since when had Marie ever been into anything remotely considered athletic? Eventually, Kat had gone out to the back porch of her vacation house and waited for her daughter to return while sitting in the shade.

As Kat watched Marie emerge from the sea, she saw that her daughter had not bothered with anything that might be considered remotely superfluous before going into the water. While that was perfectly permissible on this side of the Atlantic, it bothered Kat for other reasons. For a young woman who was painfully shy around people, Kat was amazed Marie could also be so bold in other respects. When Kat was that age she had hidden her body under bulky clothes and made herself as unattractive as possible. She had been told that had really been armor used to protect herself from the world by Erma Tangeman and it had much to her surprise that Erma had not encouraged her to do something else, like everyone else had at the time. She had said that Kat would do something else when she no longer felt she needed to protect herself that way.

Kat really missed Erma at times like these. She had known exactly what to say and had understood things probably better than anyone. With Tatiana, Marie, and even Angelica, Kat felt like she was continually messing things up. Things had gotten a lot better with Sophie once she had discovered cycling, something which she was inarguably good at and that had made a world of difference.

Marie had put on an old, oversized T-shirt that hung down to her knees and padded back to the porch on sand covered bare feet, her hair mussed and wet, salt drying to her skin. Kat looked back to the book that she had been ignoring as Marie approached.

“Your book is upside down Momma” Marie said, her voice full of amusement.

“Your Grandmother would have a heart attack if she knew that you were swimming au naturel” Kat said as she put the offending book aside.

“Good” Marie replied with a slight smile. That smile was a reminder that she really did favor Doug when it came to her features. Kat was also aware that this was one of the rare times when she was seeing Marie with no cosmetics or artifice, basically who she was laid bare. Often, Marie could appear as several different people over the course of a day. As Kat had that thought, it occurred to her that she wasn’t the only one who had worn armor.

“Margot is quite the charmer, isn’t she?” Kat asked, knowing that it was probably unfair for her to say that to Marie. Her mother-in-law could be vicious at times, Marie would still need to live with her for the sake of Doug’s father Malcolm.

“Starting next week, this beach will be crowded with people on their Summer Holiday” Marie said changing the subject, nodding towards the mostly empty expanse of sand. “I figure that I might have to go somewhere else for August.”

Kat nodded. It was nearly August and while many people had the last week of July off, the first week of August would be when the season really kicked off. The East Frisian Islands, along with much of the North Sea and Baltic Coastlines would be overrun with tourists.

“Any idea of where you might go?” Kat asked.

“Tatiana might have had the right idea in going backpacking in the Pyrenees Mountains last year” Marie said.

Kat considered making a comment about how she had no clue as to where Tatiana had actually spent last summer. Her contacts in Spain had told her that no one matching Tatiana’s description had been seen in that region. While it was entirely possible that she might have been missed, Kat figured that with her oldest daughter’s tendency to shoot her mouth off every time she didn’t like something, someone would remember having to deal with Tatiana. Kat might have followed up with further inquiries, but Tatiana was an adult now. It was something that Kat would need to remember if she ever wanted that relationship to improve. Still, she didn’t like being fed such an obvious lie.

“You worked briefly with Jack Kennedy in Ireland” Kat said, “Any thought of doing that again?”

“Have you met Jacqueline?” Marie asked in reply, “Every second I am in Jack’s house, endless questions. That girl loves to talk and talk.”

Kat almost laughed at that characterization of Jack’s daughter but figured that Marie would take it the wrong way. “Of course, I would know her” She replied, “She’s one of my God daughters.”

“My God” Marie said, a look of horror on her face. “That means if anything happened to Jack and Bridget she would come live with us.”

“For someone who says she has no interest in acting you are certainly good at it” Kat replied.

Marie blew a raspberry at Kat before getting up and walking into the house, presumably to shower before lunch.
 
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For someone that thinks she is always messing up, I think she is doing far better with Marie than with Tatiana. She thinks a lot of things she isn't saying, where as with Tat, she said what she thought without considering the consequences. Thanks to Margot, they have a common touch point too.

I think that knowing that she doesn't have to worry about Marie means she isn't going into over protective rabid tigress mode, whereas with Tat, because she knows the field, the potential for damage, and still, some of the players, rabid tigress mode is almost the default meaning they will, as we've seen, butt heads hard.
Tatiana is very clearly her mother's daughter.
 
Part 139, Chapter 2394
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-Four



28th August 1975

Jena, Thuringia

The death of Zella’s namesake grandmother hit her particularly hard. Yuri had tried stay around, to be supportive but the feeling that he was out of place had only increased and Emil had told him that it would probably be for the best if he went back to Berlin. Now it was looking like that may have been a mistake as Zella had really fallen apart once Yuri had left. As if Emil needed more proof that there was more to Zella’s relationship with Yuri Kozlov than she was willing to admit.

Emil was unsure how to handle the situation. Zella had arrived at her grandmother’s funeral unsteady on her feet, reeking of cannabis and alcohol. Maria wanted to get someone to take her home that instant, but Emil knew that they would regret it if they did that. Peter had suggested that they sedate Zella, but Emil figured that might just make things worse and he had told his brother no. Then a few minutes later, Zella had wondered aloud if because her grandmother had made her wishes to be cremated known well in advance, would there be a few seconds where she would be medium rare or well done before she was burnt to a crisp? He recognized the bitter cynical humor his daughter was extremely capable of. Perhaps having Zella doped to the gills on tranquilizers wasn’t the worst thing, but by then it was a bit too late.

So, they were stuck in the Church during the funeral with everyone staring at them as Emil and Maria had Zella between them in an effort to keep her out of trouble. Emil and Maria’s grandchildren, Annika and Peter were asking what was wrong with Aunt Zella in the unthinking manner of children as Walter was telling them to be quiet far louder than he probably intended. Karina, Walter’s wife looked completely mortified. Far from causing trouble, Zella was sitting there quietly weeping.

With a bit of reluctance, Emil got to his feet to deliver the eulogy. As the oldest son it was expected of him. Maria nodded as she took ahold of Zella’s arm. Emil knew that if their daughter were determined to get up and do something crazy, there was little that Maria could really do to stop her.

Seeing hundreds of eyes staring at him, Emil looked at the obituary written by his wife which he had clipped from the local newspaper. It had run in every major newspaper primarily due to Maria’s influence the day before in the Sunday Editions. There was simply no way he could top this.

Come to think of it, this was possibly the worst fix his had gotten himself into without someone shooting at him.



Hohenzollern Castle

The elderly Oberst commanding the Hohenzollern Province’s single Reserve Infantry Regiment finally retired this year due to his advanced age. Kiki might have asked for a replacement except he had done his job without fanfare and had seldom asked her for anything. Unfortunately, his replacement, Oberst Meins was not nearly as easy to work with as Kiki was discovering as she was having to take time away from preparing for an important regional conference in Konstanz. It seemed that his ambition had been what had gotten him assigned here and that he had not left that in Wunsdorf-Zossen. He struck Kiki as a man whose ambitions far exceeded his actual competence. If the Epione was not moored in Lindau and the Meta was not being moved up the Rhine to serve as an administrative and living space for her expanded staff Kiki would probably be quite cross with Oberst Meins. Still though, the idea of throwing him into the castle’s oubliette until he learned a bit of humility was appealing. If Royalty still did that sort of thing, that is.

“This Province is far wealthier and has a larger population than it did fifty years ago” Oberst Meins said, “There is no reason why it cannot be expanded to an Infantry Brigade, and what is this business of being subordinate to the 16th Division in Trier?”

“I would be exceeding my own authority if I tried to help implement any of your suggestions” Kiki replied, “You will need to make the proposal to the Landtag and the Minister-President. I would suggest that you have a details about exactly how you would intend to pay for that. As for the Hohenzollern Provence's Regiment being a part of the 8th Army Corps, that has always been the case and there is no way that is going to change.”

And she watched as he stood there blinking for a long moment. Too many people had the assumption that members of Kiki’s family were Autocrats, and they could make things happen with a wave of their hand. It came as a slap to the face when Kiki started talking about her actual authority as the Princess of Hohenzollern.

“I have not been introduced to the Minister-President or the members of the Landtag for that matter” Meins said, “If you could help…”

“No” Kiki replied, “My position involves choosing my battles carefully. Getting into a fight with the Landtag over what many of them regard as an indulgence to my family is the exact opposite of that.”

“There is far more to it than that” Meins said, “This Regiment exists for times of emergency, so we aren’t totally dependent on our neighbors.”

“That sounds pretty good” Kiki replied, “You have already figured that out?”

“Oberst Schwenke told me that right before the changeover of command occurred” Meins said.

“I would suggest that you tell the Minister-President that” Kiki said, “Be very persuasive, or else I figure that he would be inclined to go the other way. Do you care to guess who will get the blame if that happens?”

Meins gulped, perhaps the reality of his situation was finally dawning on him.
 
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What the Oberst doesn't know that the only reason that Kiki has a lot of influence is because she doesn't use it.
Her father, the previous Kaiser knew that he couldn't directly influence policy so when he had briefings from the Chancelor, he would ask questions upon questions from different points of views in order to get his point across without making it look like he was dictating policy to an elected official.

It is no surprise that Maria wrote a loving and literary obituary on her late Mother-in-Law because from the first time that Maria visited Emil at his family's home in Jena, they both had an affection for each other and more importantly Marcella approved of Maria becoming more involved her son.
 
Zella breaking down is not really a shock unfortunately. She seems to have lived on the ragged edge of self destruction since her late teens. She is headstrong and needed direction.
Unlike Kat, Maria was mostly able to set boundaries that were essentially constructive and could be changed as circumstances changed. However, unlike Kat she had a stable and mostly safe upbringing and that will have had a significant impact on her decision making process.
Like Tatiana though, Zella is very definitely her Mother's Daughter.

I know she's retired, but this looks like a situation where Kiki's old mentor could be a great help. Get Zella some counseling. There's a lot of insecurity that needs treating there I think.
 
Honestly, when the fuck will Zella grow up?
Depends on what you consider "growing up". I would argue that an admittedly stupid comment while grieving doesn't change the fact that she's an independent adult with a successful career.
What 1962strat says. Zella is a highly successful professional woman who’s well-regarded in her field, lives, stands and manages things herself, and is thoroughly independent. She’s already grown up just fine: reacting poorly to a major family loss doesn’t take away from that.
 
What 1962strat says. Zella is a highly successful professional woman who’s well-regarded in her field, lives, stands and manages things herself, and is thoroughly independent. She’s already grown up just fine: reacting poorly to a major family loss doesn’t take away from that.
It's not the medium rare part that I have a problem with, it's showing up to a funeral drunk and high that's the peoblem IMO. That's just childish behaviour
 
It's not the medium rare part that I have a problem with, it's showing up to a funeral drunk and high that's the peoblem IMO. That's just childish behaviour
Wow, she uses coping mechanisms that she’s used before to cope with a massively traumatic event, and grief impaired her judgment. How fucking childish.
 
It's not the medium rare part that I have a problem with, it's showing up to a funeral drunk and high that's the peoblem IMO. That's just childish behaviour
People grieve in different ways. Some bury themselves in work, others in family. Some cry, some don't. Some get drunk after the funeral, others before it. Some people continue to function according to societal norms and others don't. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. If you haven't learnt that by now, perhaps use this work of fiction as a learning opportunity.
 
Zella ever since the lost her unexpected and unwanted pregnancy by her unscrupulous professor, has unresolved deep feelings of guilt, first by falling for his blandishments which exposed how unworldly Zella was in the first place, and later the loss of her unborn child and the relief that she felt over it just made the guilty feelings she had even stronger
Zella has always had a strong sense of right and wrong, and that wrong should be punished, with that in mind, Zella has feelings that she has escaped punishment especially since the people closest to her has never admonished her or blamed her for what had happened,
Zella wants forgiveness from people who think that she did nothing wrong and she is unwilling to forgive herself for failing to meet the extremely high standards that she has placed on herself.
Because of that, Zella thinks she deserve someone like Yuri who loves her unconditionally and to have a family of her own.
The death of her namesake Grandmother has brought all of feelings to a head, leading to the self-destructive behavior at the funeral, maybe a stint at the clinic that her Uncle Peter sent her godmother to, will help her.
 
Part 139, Chapter 2395
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-Five



2nd August 1975

Charlottenburg, Berlin

With her mother angry and her father just saying that he was disappointed in her, Zella had come back to Berlin the day before and tried unsuccessfully to push the events of the prior week out of her mind. It had been a long train ride home with her car still parked at her uncle’s house and she didn’t care that she had blown through an absurd amount of money in the club car.

The trip to Jena could not have gone in a more horrible direction if it had been planned that way. Zella could deal with parental disapproval; it was something that she had lived with countless times. It was the sudden loss of her grandmother, that had been a gut punch. She had always encouraged whatever Zella had been doing and had made a point of calling Zella after every broadcast to let her know what she had thought. When Zella had ridden her motorcycle out of Berlin, her wanderings had frequently taken her to Jena to visit the care home where her grandmother had lived. Trying to numb herself with wine and cannabis had helped, but that was what had resulted in her parents getting upset with her.

Her other grandmother was still alive and living in the same apartment that she had once shared with Zella’s mother. They were not close though. This was because she had not approved of Zella’s mother getting married to a man more than a decade older than her. That rift still persisted more than thirty years later. Zella had considered contacting her but had realized that would likely be compounding the mistakes that she had already made over the prior days.

Watching television in her apartment, Zella had turned on the evening news and saw that they were covering the debate on the set of interlocking treaties that were had been hammered out in Switzerland over the last few years over the proposed Customs Union and Legal Standardization. The prior Government had been deeply involved with that process and now the new Government was trying to renegotiate key portions if those treaties and the other National Governments who were party to them were not happy with this turn of events. That was when the reporting shifted to two politicians arguing with each other and the Anchor doing nothing. It was the laziest form of journalism and as much as Zella wanted to turn it off, her head felt disconnected from her body. Laying on the couch passively watching was about all she could do. Besides that, if she waited the evening news would end and perhaps something better would come on.

It was after Zella stopped paying attention that it occurred to her just how lonely she was feeling. She also remembered why she had unplugged the phone earlier that afternoon. Her mother had been calling to check on her. Then she had called Kiki and her friend had asked her to call back in the morning when she wasn’t so drunk and high after offering her condolences. It had been when she had called Aurora and it had just rung with no one picking up that she remembered that Aurora was out of town on a holiday to the Baltic Seaside. That had prompted her to unplug the damned thing. Now, laying on the couch, it occurred to Zella that she was getting halfway sober for the first time in days and that was not a good feeling.

That was when the doorbell rang.

With great reluctance, Zella peeled herself off the couch and shuffled to the front door. Opening it to Yuri standing there. She saw that he had his keys in his hand, which included the one to the front door of her apartment. So, he would have come in regardless.

“Your mother asked me to check on you after you stopped answering your phone” Yuri said as he stepped in.

“There’s nothing to drink or smoke left in this apartment” Zella said with some exasperation. “You can tell her that.”

“There’s no need, you can do that yourself” Yuri said, “And you running out of drugs and alcohol tonight might not be a bad thing.”

For lack of anything better to do, they watched television as the evening news went into the weather report. As Zella sat there with Yuri’s arm around her, she didn’t care about tomorrow’s weather. She was just glad that she wasn’t alone.



Boston, Massachusetts

For some odd reason Bill Stoughton liked doing business in an Irish themed restaurant in his home District. Today, James Hendrix was along for the ride, and he was looking at the unfamiliar items in the menu questioning what exactly was any good. It seemed that Irish food went far beyond corned beef and cabbage or shepherd's pie.

“Do you have any recommendations?” Hendrix asked the waitress as she walked past. He instantly noticed that she was hot in a “Don’t fuck with me” sort of way and had piercing blue eyes.

“The chicken curry and chips” The waitress replied with an Irish accent. That was a bit of a surprise on a couple different levels. How was curry Irish?

“I’ll try that” Hendrix said, “And you are Irish, for real?”

“We all come from somewhere Mister” The waitress replied before vanishing into the kitchen.

Big Bill heard that and laughed.

“The owner of this establishment hires students from Irish colleges for their summer vacation” Stoughton said, “Now going back that bullshit going on in the Appropriations Committee.”

Hendrix was a bit annoyed, but it seemed that Stoughton intended this to be a working lunch.
 
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