Bicycle in Germany Without Breaking the Law


In Copenhagen last summer, we tried to rent a bike for Diva and were turned down flat. “It’s against the law,” the guy at the bike shop told me and when I pressed for more information — the Danes, after all, are cycling queens — he said it was forbidden for kids under 6 (or maybe it was 8) to be in the bike lanes. Since no bikes are allowed on the sidewalk, either, the only place a kid might bike is at home, in the driveway or the courtyard. No wonder cargo bikes are so popular and school kids all arrive on Razor scooters.

Back home, in Germany, I breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t need to continue trucking around in an old Christania cargo bike. They look sweet and all but pedaling one of those is like riding a stationary bike … unlike Long Duk Dong, I got nowhere, fast, and slowed down a lot of people on the Danish autobahn as a result of my wide-girth and slow-spinning wheels.

For many morning school runs, I pop Diva’s princess helmet on, pull her pink princess bicycle back out of the basement and off we go, cruising down the sidewalks to school, dinging our bells to let everyone know to get out of our way. Although this seems to be par for the course here, a British woman I went out to lunch with a few years back took serious offense to this behavior, cussing out a 6-year-old for being “on the pavement” before diatribing about how truly awful the Germs and their manners were. “Think their kids take precedence over other human beings, do they?” So when a policewoman came to Diva’s Kindergarten a few weeks after we got back from Denmark, I had to ask: can kids ride on the sidewalk in Germany? What are the laws here (because you know, it’s Germany and every damned thing is regulated)?

The answers she gave were really surprising. Here, in brief, and not fact-checked, is what the law says:

1. Kids under the age of 8 MUST bike on the sidewalk.

2. Kids CAN ride on the sidewalk until the age of 10 (which she recommends because of sightline problems for drivers).

3. Parents who follow their children on the sidewalk are breaking the law — even though there is most often a row of cars between the sidewalk and the bike lane (if there is a bike lane), therefore separating kid from mom or dad — and can be fined heftily for it (though she admitted that most police — and every annoying ass old biddy you pass on the way — will just warn you against it).

Not a big deal, right? Excepting that Germany has no mandatory helmet requirements so even Diva’s classmate, a 3-year-old kid of an emergency room nurse at the children’s hospital WHO HAS SEEN THE RESULTS OF BIKE ACCIDENTS FIRSTHAND doesn’t wear a goddamned helmet while not properly strapped into his seat on the back of his mom’s bike (bitch is insane, I swear), seems pretty straightforward. Except:

Kids aged 7 and up are not allowed to be on their parents’ bikes in street traffic anymore. So that cargo bike? Or that extra-special imported-from-Holland bike seat meant to hold kids over 22 kilos? Verboten. (I can’t wait to tell Diva’s dad this — he just dropped over 1000 Euros on a cargo bike to take her to school in but won’t get much use of it soon.)

So legally, when a kid turns 7 and wants to ride a bike, he or she absolutely positively must do it on the sidewalk. And from the ages of 8-10, he or she can still keep his or her wheels on the sidewalk (recommended by the policewoman, who also admitted that after the bike accidents she has seen, she doesn’t even let her kids bike).  That’s what I’m going to do. And I’m going to find that law and print it out and laminate it and show it to every old biddy who lectures us to get off the sidewalk for the next four years.


How to Parent Like a German, According to Time

1. Hang your children off a wooden dragon 20 feet above a sand pit.

2. Huddle with all the German parents drinking coffee and don’t pay attention to your kids.

3. Ignore Amis screaming “Achtung, Nein!” like the lunatics they are.

4. Do not be stereotypically strict (whatever that means) but instead “place a high value on independence and responsibility.”

5. Do not join the free range parenting movement because you’re already free range (tell that to the local news media here, which has just discovered the free range trend).

6. “Don’t push reading.” Or, in other words, let your kid’s teachers teach them how to read at school.

7. Don’t freak out when your kid gets two (two!) breaks to play outside during 4.5 hours of instruction (well aware of all the studies saying kids’ concentration levels dip after 45 minutes and are at a bottom after 90.)

8. Let your kid light off  fireworks on New Year’s.

9. Let your kid walk to school without you. Worry about traffic and not kidnappings.

10. Celebrate the kid’s first day of school.

11. Go outside everyday (see 1).

How’s your ranking on this list (condensed from and based entirely on this truthful bullshit in Time Magazine)? I failed miserably. Those Ami lunatics screaming Achtung get me every time.

The Sexism of German Bureaucracy

On my first trip to the foreigner’s office nearly ten years ago, I had two visa options:

1. Take a 1-year residency permit limiting my working ability to whatever I had to do to fulfill my Fulbright obligations (teach); or

2. Request a spousal visa that would give me the ability to both work and live in Germany for however long the person filling my application decided it should be good for.

So although I had my application form there in front of me, I didn’t fill it out. I didn’t know which would be the better deal. Before I even had a chance to discuss the differences, the beamter assisting us decided for me: I would be on a spousal visa, full stop. In the long run, this was the better deal but this woman, when she decided for us, didn’t know anything about us or our plans. She didn’t know, for example, that although my ex-husband had a German passport in his possession, he hadn’t lived in Germany since he was 11 months old. Or that he didn’t speak the language. Or that he dreaded being in Germany with every ounce of dread possible and was only supposed to stay for a few months because he couldn’t imagine ever living here. That he only had the passport because three months earlier I had read that German citizenship laws had changed again and he could get one while still maintaining his US citizenship.

For me to get the Fulbright, I had to speak B1-level German and attend culture lessons. I had to read Faust in the original Goethe German, for fuck’s sake, and write a four-page statement of motivation in German. I would have been better off, at least in this meeting with her, standing on my own merits. But since I walked in with a man, she refused to talk to me. Instead, she turned to him and said, “Does your wife need integration classes?”

I said no. She said, “I’m not asking you.” And so I translated for the ex, who looked at me and said, “I don’t know. Do YOU want to take integration classes?”

I said no again, and tried to explain that I was answering because his German wasn’t good enough, and she just stared at me. It wasn’t the first time. In the airport, when a security officer had asked him to boot up his laptop before we got on our connecting flight, they laughed and called him a dumb Turk who couldn’t speak the language (he isn’t Turkish and he didn’t understand the racist bastards, luckily).

“Can he take the integration class?”

“No. He’s already German.”

Somehow, don’t ask me how, the integration classes for me were waived and I got a two-year work and residency permit. When I went back to get it renewed, this time in a different office with a different caseworker, she said, “Your husband has to be here,” and so we had to go back again another day where again, they didn’t speak to me but to him.

I get it, I guess. A spousal visa requires the spouse. You have to give proof that you live together, that you both earn money and pay taxes and love each other and whatnot. That’s not the sexist part. The sexist part comes when you try to get a permanent visa.

Because to get a permanent visa after three years of being here (this varies, btw), I needed to have my husband’s support and he absolutely, vehemently refused to give me it. He said if he signed the paperwork allowing me to stay in Germany without him (as a permanent visa would do), that I would leave him. He might’ve been right, but I’m not the kind of girl to marry for a Green Card. We were clearly having issues, but because he wouldn’t sign the visa paperwork, I had to stay on another two-year visa tied to his passport. I could have left him but it would have been harder to get my visa renewed. They assumed — wrongfully in my case, but not without reason — that the male was the breadwinner and so without his income, I would become a charity case and charity cases do not get permanent visas.

By the time we got to five years, to renew the visa, I again needed his signature but he left the country before I could get that. I went to the foreigner’s office to see what I could do and it was a no-go. Spousal visas can’t be converted to work visas, especially for freelancers. So even though I originally arrived on a visa tied to a grant I’d received and I had worked and paid taxes the entire time since (more than my ex could say), I had to leave the country. And so I did. And then I came back.

My second attempt at the permanent visa was different because this time, I didn’t want my visa tied to my ex. He was still out of the country when I came back and so they tied it, this time, to my daughter. Germans love it when little Germans are raised in the Fatherland and so they made it easier for me to get my visa to stay here and work. Also, I had paid taxes and social services for five years prior, so that was a plus. And then three years later, I could finally apply for my permanent visa.

Here’s the sexist bit: because my divorce had not yet officially been documented (the court had not yet sent the paperwork to the city hall), I had to get written permission from my ex-husband that he was okay with me being in Germany. Wie, bitte?

A woman who works and pays taxes and raises a kid on her own is obligated to get permission from a deadbeat, not-quite-ex-husband about where she lives? Eventually, I got the letter written, though not without a power struggle, but the whole process really had me thinking about all those holiday wives that wash up here… you know, the women from exotic southern locales who show up on a German’s arm after he’s taken a long holiday. Or women who are abused by their spouses. While I get that you don’t want people marrying just for Green Cards, if I’d already proven that I paid taxes and worked and had already filed for divorce and yadda yadda, what in the devil did I need my ex’s permission for?

Turns out, the reforms that were made in custody laws several years ago were the culprit in my case but I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around how this whole thing works. See, when two people are married and they have a kid, that kid is automatically 50/50 mom/dad custody (Sorgerecht). When they get divorced, it’s understood that unless officially decided otherwise, the kid will live with mom and the dad gets visitation (umgangsrecht). To get it officially stated otherwise, the dad has to sue the mom for something called the Aufenthaltsbestimmungsrecht — the right to decide where a kid lives. If the dad doesn’t sue — as my ex didn’t — then there is never any official documentation as to where the kid should live and so I have to, it turns out, with every move I make, have my ex put it in writing that he is understanding of the move. And so it was with the visa. My ex had to agree in writing that he was okay with me living in Germany with our daughter. I got off lucky. I’ve been doing research into The Hague Convention and those custody battles sound terrible. But seriously, Germany, there has got to be a better way to figure this shit out than to have a woman get a man’s permission to do the most normal thing: live somewhere. Seriously, women are their own people.

Alleinerziehend: Today’s #dailydeutsch

I am exhausted. Again.

A couple of years ago, at an outing with all of the parents at the Kita, one of the dads turned to me and said, “Gosh, raising your kid all alone must be tough.” To this dad, who had never met my ex, I was doing everything by myself, hence his word choice: alleinerziehend. There’s not really another word for a single mom (which is why the English phrase single mom has, to my chagrin, been adopted here in Germany).

On my other side sat another dad, one who also didn’t know my ex but who’d had a kid and then separated from his baby mamma and then continued to raise his kid with her, co-parenting so that both of them had the kid 3-1/2 days each week. And so this dad, based on his own experience, answered for me. “It’s not tough. She’s not alleinerziehend. She’s not doing it all on her own.”

Oh. Um.

Compared to my friend, whose baby daddy lives in LA and doesn’t ever visit or pay child support, he’s right: I am not completely alone. Diva’s dad every so often has picked her up to go have fun in his garden and he pays his laughable minimum according to the Duesseldorfer Tabelle (doesn’t get any more frugal than that, with a maximum per kid payment of 334 Euros if you’re an upper bracket earner). I guess I really haven’t been doing all the work myself.


A kid is around 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And I’m having a hard time believing that I’m not in it alone, as I am currently doing all the housework and getting the finances in order and working and looking for new work and making sure Diva gets all the love and attention she needs while also getting her ready for her future school days, not to mention making sure she is cleaned and bathed and fed and well-slept each night while her dad has, once again, gone off the radar. Since January, he has seen her five times. Five. My lawyer tells me this is not enough. She tells me Diva needs to see her dad more.

You see, Germany has adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and as a result, one of the firm beliefs in German custody laws is that the child needs to have both parents in his or her life. So technically, on a legal level, there should never ever be an alleinerziehend situation. At least not on paper. And if, then only because the kid was placed in severe danger by one of the parents or paternity was absolutely unknown. And so, even when Diva is living with me and spending 24/7 with me, we are technically legally splitting custody 50/50. There is no way around this.


Erziehen is translated as the process of raising a child. Custody is not erziehen; it has nothing to do with instilling morals and values nor on where and how a kid is brought up. So although legal custody is limited to who can decide which school a kid goes to and who can sign her passport application — if there are two names on a birth certificate, both of those signatures have to be present on all official documents — erziehen falls under the everyday nonsense that comes with bringing up a kid and that is not necessarily decided on by a court but by the parents. And unless the parents get along and are willing to do the so-called “Prenzlauer Berg” model in which a kid shifts homes every Sunday, spending one week with mom, the following with dad, the erziehen really is done by the person with whom the kid stays the most.

In our case, me. And so when her dad isn’t around, as has been the case for over a month now, I don’t understand how this cannot be called alleinerziehend. I’m alone. I’m raising her. Five out of 120 days doesn’t feel like 50/50. So how is this not alleinerziehend? Is this a semantic issue or what am I missing (besides sleep)?

Latte Macciato Mums

A couple months back, I was walking down the street with a friend of mine who’s been trying unsuccessfully for years to have a kid. It always sucks a little bit to talk to her because our conversation always has something to do with kids and seriously, what do you say to someone who’s dealing with infertility issues? “Oh hey, I see you’re not pregnant yet. Still trying? Let me just bitch a little bit about my little darling so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.”

On this occasion, it was especially awkward because my friend was taking me to a partners’ massage at the Thai Massage studio which meant that in T-5 Minutes, we were going to be seeing each other naked, which I am still a bit shy about. So anyway, just as we were about to walk into the massage parlor, I realize another Mom from the Kindergarten is standing right by the door locking her bike. What’s the proper protocol for this greeting? Acknowledge the mom with a nod and a smile? Say hello and continue walking? Attempt small talk (which I despise) despite our rush? We never saw each other outside of the kindergarten but since it’s a tiny parents’ run Kita, we see each other there every month at parents’ night.

I decided to say hello and keep walking, noting that if she seemed offended, I could explain later how uncomfortable I was and how we were running late. So I said hi. And she did nothing. Not a nod. Not a smile. Not a word. She just looked right through me. And since we were like two feet away from each other and I am totally unique, it’s not like she didn’t recognize me.

“That was weird,” my friend said. “Who was that?”

“A mom from the kindergarten.”

“Oh man,” she said. “That’s why if I do ever get knocked up, I’m not raising the kid in this neighborhood. These moms are bitches.”

For like half a second, I defended the mom. It’s a habit I’m trying to create — to not talk shit about people or get offended by what I consider impoliteness. After all, this woman was probably feeling just as awkward as I was, right? I let it drop but made a note to try to play nice with this mom at the next parents’ night. Because one of the things I’m learning beyond the it’s not just me philosophy is that these moms who are bitches are probably going to be in my life for a while. If Diva wants to play their kids, I gotta be nice to them. If Diva doesn’t want to hang with their kids but we still have to keep seeing each other at playgrounds and soccer games, I gotta be nice to them. Cologne is small like that. My neighborhood even smaller.

And I have spent most of the last year in a selfish haze of bad fucking moods that I am sure has made a few people wonder what bug crawled up my ass so I have to start trying to make good with the mummies here again. The sun is shining and I have to hit the playgrounds with Diva again. Imagine my difficulty, then, when I overheard one of the new moms at the kindergarten talking about our kindergarten at the playground and the phrase “Latte Macciato Mamas” was used. Clearly this woman did not know that I was one of the Moms in question — we hadn’t yet attended a parents’ night together because I have been avoiding those like the plague this year — and the statement made me take a step back. It’s bad enough that people who know me don’t like me but at least I get that. I’m not always fun to be around. I’m not everybody’s cup of tea. But a pauschal hatred based on the Kindergarten I chose to send my kid to? A judgment about me because of the neighborhood I live in or the clothes that I wear?

I have a sense of humor. I can make fun of myself. Self-hatred is not a uniquely German trait. But how do you address this without sounding like a complete asshole? Hu-hu, heard you call me a yummy yuppy and just wanted to let you know, I’m just as broke as you! Whatever. It’s not important what this new mom thinks. We’re out of the insanity of the kindergarten next year and into the strangeness that is the German school system, complete with its own PTA problems so I don’t really need to prove I’m too lactose intolerant to be a latte drinker or that the Armani sunglasses I hide behind were an appeasement gift given years ago by a woman who felt guilty for flirting with my husband.

But the experience does have me thinking a bit about these relationships we’re building with the people we encounter every day. What are we doing to each other by cutting each other down? What purpose does this mummy hate serve? What are we teaching our kids when we’re throwing around casual judgments and talking smack when they’re in earshot? I understand the harm this does and though I haven’t been at all perfect, I am going to try to be better. Kill ’em with kindness. Starting now.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch, du Arsch?

Another day, another expat writing about her inability to fit in in Europe. If she were a Mexican writing in Spanish but living in the U.S., there would be an uproar. If she were Tunisian writing in Arabic but living in Germany, there would be people calling for her to go “home.”

Because this immigrant on a spousal visa in The Netherlands speaks English as her first language, however, she regards herself as “cute” and her readers — worldwide but for a website based in New York — see her life as exotic, unique. It’s not.

It’s not cute to not be able to speak the language of the people around you. These people whose lifestyle you’re proud to be adapting to are not exotic. You are not unique. Your life is not enviable.

I know because I’ve been there, been through all the stages of being a foreigner in a country I’d always fantasized about living in. I thought I was cute. I thought Germany was exotic, my life unique. It wasn’t. It isn’t.

Unlike many “expat” women, I did not come here for love and have the great German-language-speaking husband waiting for me here to handle the bureaucracy. I am not a traveling spouse. I did not get a shit ton of money and offers of language courses because my (ex-)husband had made some brilliant career back home and a three-year stint abroad was the most logical next step in a globalized world.

Although we arrived in Germany right after the integration courses became mandatory for immigrants, I somehow managed to talk my way out of them (likely because I spoke mediocre German, studying for a year before I arrived). By nature of his German citizenship, my ex wasn’t allowed to attend them, although he knew less about the country than I did and could barely order in a restaurant when we arrived.

I’m saying this because the opportunities for language learning were not handed to us in the way that they are to many English-speaking immigrants and yet both of us managed to become fluent in German. We managed to learn not only how to speak but also how the culture and society works and though some things — like the necessity of wearing slippers indoors and keeping your kidneys covered at all times — still baffle, it broke down a lot of barriers here. Barriers in our own minds.

I’m saying this because the level of willfulness that many English speaking immigrants who come here willingly show in their refusal to integrate has reached its peak and its getting frustrating to read.

Despite having a load of German journalists on hand in the country, the Wall Street Journal has its English-language correspondent tweeting about an inability to understand the concept of airing out your apartment. EVERYBODY IN GERMANY UNDERSTANDS LUFTING, JUST ASK A GERMAN. Their expat blog published a bit on the Sunday quiet rules. THIS SHIT HAS BEEN COVERED ALREADY, THANKS.

Get out of your expat bubble. Take a German course. Talk to a German. Stop bragging about your inability to speak the language and therefore fit in.

I’m not saying don’t keep up with your English. I’m not saying don’t hang out with the other ladies from the American Women’s Club nor am I telling you to stop watching your movies in English. Some things need to stay as they are, and we all know the dubbing in those movies is terrible. But at least fucking try. Enroll yourself in one of those ueber-cheap, over-filled classes at the VHS. Get yourself a tandem partner. If you have kids, have them teach you the language they can more easily pick up. Stop telling yourself that you are “genetically unable to learn a second language.” There is no such thing.

And for heaven’s sake, stop assuming that just because everybody speaks English to you that they don’t think you’re an asshole. It’s cute when you’re a tourist but not a permanent fixture.

On My Fear of Flying

I didn’t get on a plane for the first time until I was old enough to drive. I had been living with an aunt in Florida, working as her nanny while my parents got a divorce, and suddenly, two days before Hurricane Andrew made landfall, I had to make my way back home without getting stuck in a natural disaster. My dad booked me a flight and after a summer spent realizing there was more to the world than my tiny-ass country bumpkin town, I gladly got on it. Flying, I realized, would be my ticket to the outside world. I ordered a sparkling water, a drink that tasted terrible to my Coke-adapted tastebuds, and I drank it down imagining the people around me on the plane thought I was far more glamorous than I’d ever imagined myself to be. After all, those were the days before everyone was flying and I was the only “kid” on her own on that plane.

When I moved out to Boston half a decade later, I realized that flying wasn’t as exotic as I’d made it out to be. Yes, airplanes took me to Europe and across the country, but they did that same thing for everybody who could afford them to. As I moved up into the middle-class, I finally realized that the costs of flying didn’t make it the luxury it had once appeared to poor little me. I flew to Chicago and Los Angeles and Charlotte. For fun. Because I could. Because all my middle class friends expected that of me. I was a worldly woman, sophisticated, I traveled on a whim, went away for the weekend. I took a near empty commuter shuttle between Boston and New York City in late August 2001 because my sister was having a hard day and I wanted to do some shopping.

When I visited her a month later, I took the train. On my morning walk to work just a week before, I had crossed a bridge from which I could see planes taking off from Logan Airport. And that afternoon, on my walk home, the only sound I heard were fighter jets cutting through the air above me. After that, flying felt like less of a luxury.

“Just calling to make sure you weren’t on your way to LA,” my friend said into my answering machine. I wasn’t but an acquaintance of my sister’s was. I guess that’s when you could say my fear of flying began.

In the meantime, I’ve flown quite a bit. I took a short break from it, but it’s a part of the middle-class life I’ve adapted since living in Boston. Upon moving to Germany, I knew I’d have to keep flying, hopping the pond at least once a year. Working as a freelance journalist, I knew I’d have to grab a flight to Leipzig for a day spent filming or a quick appearance at a Fashion Week. But it hasn’t been easy.

I had a panic attack on a short-haul flight ten years ago — the first I’d ever had — and the OCD rituals to prevent them from ever happening mid-air again began. Checking the safety records of every style of aircraft before settling on Airbus 320/330. Checking the safety records of every airline imaginable before choosing which to fly (Lufthansa, always Lufthansa). Choosing only direct flights (avoiding stopovers), never flying through England, the list goes on, has grown longer each year. It got so bad two years ago that I would have nightmares just even thinking about booking a flight; my hands would shake so badly I couldn’t book my tickets online and yet I would somehow book them. The Dramamine tablets I would take for motion sickness in the air would be swallowed before we’d even get on the train to the airport. A friend who saw this, whose brother was a pilot, admonished me for the rituals. “You fly too much to be afraid of flying,” he’d said. “And it’s way safer than driving.”

I know these things. But panic and logic are two completely separate ways of thinking and the parts of your brain handling those two things do not communicate. Panic, if you’re wondering, comes from one part “thinking too much/too catastrophically” and one part being so stressed out you can’t cope with life’s little things anymore. It wasn’t surprising then that my fear of flying grew uncontrollable when I was already being treated for exhaustion. What was surprising was that the doctor treating me for burnout also prescribed me some sleeping pills to help keep me calm during flights. If I were really exhausted, as he claimed, I shouldn’t have continued flying everywhere. A doctor looking out for my best interest would have told me not to go to Lebanon at the start of the Syrian civil war and to get more sleep instead. Instead, I got magic blue pills, a medication so strong it can cause amnesia even after small doses.

I flew more in the year following than I had ever done in my life. With those pills, I had the same terrible fears but none of the physical symptoms. I could worry that something was wrong with the plane without having to puke. I could feel the turbulence and my heart wouldn’t race. The pills dulled my senses, made flying feel finally okay again.

Portugal Beach

What the doctor didn’t tell me was that those pills had hideous side effects, that they were so addictive, they weren’t something for recovering addicts like me. I found out the hard way while lying on a beach in Portugal staring at the rolling surf while feeling completely out of my mind as I’d only felt when coming down from a high as a teenage junkie. I knew, before I’d even talked to a doctor, that it had to do with the pills. I also knew that it had to do with me, with feeling overwhelmed by this middle-class life and by having catastrophic thinking.

Since I came back from Portugal 18 months ago, I haven’t flown. I haven’t gone to the US. I have turned down lucrative job offers in other cities, taken a ten-hour train ride instead of a two-hour plane ride, avoided holidaying with friends I haven’t seen in ages, all in order to not have to get on a plane. It’s given me the time I need to recuperate from the exhaustion. To learn how not to catastrophize in my thinking. To prioritize. Do I really need to be in Copenhagen for Fashion Week again? Can I not just live here in Germany and ignore the rest of my family in the US?

And I have to admit: it was working. Taking the stress out of my life was a great step, even if it hasn’t gone far enough yet. Therapy to retrain my thinking was working, even if the voice now judging me in my head is my therapist’s (auf Deutsch, too, which makes that voice so very harsh!) I was just about to book tickets to Portugal for the summer break. And thinking about Christmas in the US. But after this week, I realize I still have a ways to go. Although in reading all of the news reports, I’ve realized my fear of flying has less to do with the realities of flight than with panic. All the OCD rituals in the world can’t prevent things from happening. And though I don’t want to make this about me, it’s hard not to feel it when it’s that close to home again. I — and I think a lot of other people — need serious time to digest what the fuck has just happened.

What about you all? How are you coping with the tragedy?