Over the years I’ve had a lot of nicknames, though few have stuck around for long—Pajama Girl, Tiny Fists of Fury, and Sweepstakes. Now the people who once called me those things live way across the sea, and the names have faded into memory.
These days I have two new nicknames. The first is die alle letzte Drecksau—which means something along the lines of the biggest, dirtiest pig of all time and which I earned with a remark about how I’ve eaten enough mold (accidentally of course) at this point in my life that it no longer affects my bowels. And the second is the Hamster.
In German the verb hamstern means to hoard supplies and is used much as its English equivalent to squirrel something away. Which would probably make Hamster the most fitting nickname yet; I no longer even own pajamas, my fists have been stilled, and the name Sweepstakes never had anything to do with anything anyway, but oh do I hoard.
Hoarding is part of being a scrounger. If you don’t take something you might need when you see it and store it away, you’re not necessarily going to find it again. If there’s free scrap wood in the dumpster down the street one summer day, better take it so that when winter comes you’re ready and don’t have to shell out 50-100 euros for stove wood. My father refers to it as my “Polish peasant instinct” because apparently it runs in the family. Me, I just feel more comfortable when the pantry and the wood shed are both full because you never do know what is going to happen.
You never know, for example, when you’re going to be laying in bed, feeling like a lollipop that’s been sucked almost down to the stick and forgotten on the couch, and wishing that someone else would come along and bring you hydrating liquids and light the wood stove. And of course on the day when it does happen, the wood shed is empty. You see, I take turns sawing up logs and chopping wood with the non-plannerest of non-planners, he’s away for the weekend, and I’m too tired to haul logs.
Sick in the winter—it’s the only time anymore when the thought of apartment life sounds even remotely appealing. Heat you can turn up and down with a dial! A bathroom that is both nearby and not possibly occupied by guests from the party/concert/vokü going on right now! The nostalgia never lasts for long though. Either, like tonight, I pull myself together, borrow some already-chopped wood and kindling from the kitchen, light the stove and scare up orange juice or I revel in the fact that I live with 18 friends who are always willing to help each other out of a fix.