Archive for August, 2008

A Walk With My Brain

August 31st, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

Today was another extremely beautiful day, so I knew I couldn’t let myself just sit around the apartment again. On my walk home yesterday I noticed a really cool-looking building nearby, and resolved to go check it out today. It turns out this was the actual Rathaus that the book I’d read had spoken of, and that “Rathaus” really does mean “City Hall”. This was just another, far better-looking one.

It was only a fifteen-minute walk to get there, and I noticed that you could go inside and apparently go up to the dome at the top where there must be a pretty spectacular view of the city. I decided to walk around the building first, and found that there is indeed a very lovely area with a pond and trails all around. Much nicer than the Stadthalle.

Right across the street I noticed a pretty substantial body of water, definitely not natural because it was almost perfectly rectangular, but I had also read about this, the “Maschsee” as a great place to go jogging. So I decided to walk all the way around it.

I was feeling pretty good when I began my journey. This was definitely going to take some time, so all I had to do was walk around the lake and I could go home feeling that I had “seized the day”. But as I walked, I very quickly began to notice something very disturbing. Not only were there tons of people all around, but apparently this is where all the hot girls hang out. There were dozens and dozens of them, all out there on the edge of the lake or on the grass, in their bikinis and sunbathing, either with their friends or their boyfriends. I couldn’t walk ten feet without seeing one.

But I kept walking on, still in good spirits. There were definitely a substantial number of joggers, so I know I can head back there to jog without feeling weird. A lot of bikers. A lot of old couples. A lot of hot young girls. Don’t think about that. Just keep walking. Keep appreciating that you’re living in Germany and this unique and beautiful place is just a twenty-minute walk from your apartment.

At one point I was startled to hear the sound of the English language being spoken behind me in very thick accents. A man and a woman, neither of whom were from any English-speaking country, just walking along and talking about work in English. I wanted to turn around and say hello, just for the hell of it, and I kept waiting to hear something in the conversation that I could respond to, but it was all business-talk. They were walking pretty fast though, so just as they were about to pass me I forced myself to turn around and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help but understand you.” They smiled. “It’s just very strange to hear people speaking English, and neither of you seem to be native speakers. Are you practicing English for business?”

Well, they were very nice about being interrupted, and explained that he was German and she was French, so they had to use English to communicate because it was the only language they could both speak. They asked about me, I said I was from America and had come here to teach English. Then they walked on, the woman said, “Nice day” and I said, “Yeah, you too,” and that was that. Spontaneous human contact. No biggie, but I was glad that I had done it.

Anyway, I continued walking and reached the top of the lake, where there was a little man-made beach at the end with a bunch of sunbathers and girls in bikinis, so I didn’t spend much time checking it out. You had to pay to get in, and I didn’t even want to LOOK at it much less GO there. As I walked past it towards the trail that crosses to the other side, a really beautiful girl on a bike rode in and stopped at an ice-cream stand. For some reason she stood out in my mind. Just this beautiful girl all alone riding her bike to the Maschsee. About my age but maybe slightly older, a perfect body, long wavy black hair, and very distinct and beautiful facial features not typical of most Germans. I just walked on by.

As I was heading along the trail along the bottom of the lake (or the top, whatever it was), I was looking for a good place to sit and admire the view and take it all in and appreciate my surroundings and whatnot. Most of the benches and spots along the edge of the lake I had seen so far were already occupied, at least all the good ones. But I found what was definitely the best spot on the whole lake, under some beautiful trees and looking straight out across the entire body of water. There were four benches when I spotted them, and only two were taken. But just as I was getting there, a young couple took one of them, then a couple of bikers passed me and took the other. So I just stood there behind all the benches, hoping maybe someone would leave, but they didn’t. I tried admiring the beauty just standing there, but all I could think about was how if I had just gotten there seconds sooner…

So I started walking again, and that beautiful girl on the bike rode by me. She looked even more beautiful the second time, and this time her presence managed to bother me.

On the corner before the trail started going back up (or down), there was another really nice spot, but two really hot girls were already there. It was a pretty big area and there was definitely enough room for me, but I just figured the girls would probably be miffed if I just came up and sat there. They had found the spot first, so I should just let them have it. Maybe next time I’d find it open.

A bit further down, I spotted the bike-girl sitting on one end of a bench. There was definitely enough room for me to sit down, but I was still thinking about how it would be rude to take a spot that someone else had gotten to. But there she was, this very same extremely beautiful girl whom I’d already seen twice and who was now very much a part of my consciousness, just sitting there waiting for me to come and sit beside her. But my legs were in motion. I had about 3 seconds to decide whether or not to go for it, and since this just wasn’t nearly enough time to psychologically prepare myself, I walked on by. Immediately I began to regret it. What if that had been my chance? What if, had I asked her if I could sit there, we would have started talking and I would have found the love of my life? I mean, how often does the opportunity to go up and sit next to a really beautiful, apparently single girl, come along?

I should turn around. I should just go back to the bench and sit down while I still can. I should….oh fuck. There she goes.

And indeed she had already gotten back on her bike and was now riding away out of my life forever.

So that pretty much ruined everything. Tried as I might, my brain just wouldn’t let it go. I found I could no longer appreciate anything. I did eventually find a bench and I sat down and tried to “take it all in” and everything but I just felt shitty—physically, mentally, emotionally. To top it off, a minute after I sat down, some other woman (middle-aged and heavy-set) sat down at the other end of the bench, thus proving that apparently it is perfectly acceptable to take a seat on a bench that only one other person is sitting on. I could have done it without being imposing at all.

But, I thought to myself as I got up and walked on, I look and feel like shit. I haven’t trimmed my beard in over a week because the German electrical outlets and their super-high voltage killed my beard-trimmer and I haven’t bought a new one yet. Plus I had just thrown on a shirt this morning that didn’t match with my pants so I looked like a fool. She would have just laughed at me. Had I sat down, I would have just sat there staring at the water, trying to think of an excuse to turn and talk to her, but she would have got up before I would have done so and rode away. Then I would have felt even worse. True as they were, these thoughts were not much consolation.

The rest of the walk sucked. This side of the lake was much nicer than the other side had been, a lot less people and a lot more green, but I couldn’t appreciate it. I just kept looking around hoping that girl had stopped at another bench. Occasionally another really hot girl would come along and pass me by.

Finally I completed my circuit around the lake. It had taken about an hour and a half to get all the way around, and my legs were fucking tired. Now I crossed the street back to the park at the Rathaus, and tried to admire its loveliness but my brain was just being a total bitch so I didn’t stop at any one spot for long. I also knew that it would be pointless to go inside and up to the dome and admire the view, as I couldn’t admire anything anymore. I stood looking at the Rathaus across the pond, and in my entire field of view, with all those trees and water the building itself, all my mind was focussing on was the hot girl sitting on the steps of the building.

I realised I just had to get back to my apartment, smoke a cigarette to help hasten along my intensely, intensely desired death, and unload all of this crap into my journal.

I took a wrong turn on my way back of course, but shortly after I noticed things didn’t quite look right I pulled out the map I had taken with me just in case, not at all wanting to wander around the city again, and got back on track. And I made it back, smoked that cigarette, and now here I am and I’m getting it out of my system.

The biggest consolation was looking in the mirror and confirming that I do indeed look like shit, that had I tried to come on to that girl she would have almost undoubtedly repelled my advance anyway, and then I would have felt much much worse. But at least then I could have felt good about having tried. I can’t deny that there had been that opportunity, and in having only 3 seconds to decide between having balls or a pussy, I made the pussy-decision. I am totally fucking hopeless.

The next time I go back there I will be looking at every bench, just hoping to see some other beautiful girl sitting by herself, and then I will be very much prepared to sit down and try to talk. Of course I know that if I’m mentally prepared for it, the opportunity most certainly won’t come about. Fucking hopeless.

Anyway, it could have been a really nice day. I went out and took a lovely walk through a beautiful area, surrounded by trees and water and beautiful buildings and everything. But my fucking brain wouldn’t stop bitching, and the whole experience just ended up sucking big-time.

Why am I even alive? What good am I for anybody? The only people who love me are A) my parents, to whom I am currently nothing more than a drain on their bank account, B) my grandparents, to whom I am nothing but a constant disappointment, C) the rest of my family who I almost never see so they don’t count, and D) my friends who I am only in touch with through e-mail so I’m not doing much for them either. I am certainly not doing any woman any good by providing her with my incalculable tons of stored up Love, nor am I doing any good for a child whom I could also give my Love as well as clothe and feed and teach about the world. I am a completely useless, worthless individual. Just sucking up more of the planet’s oxygen, spewing out more carbon-dioxide to hasten global warming, draining the world’s water and energy ten times faster than two-thirds of the world’s population, and imposing my miserable and depressing presence upon all who know me.

Meanwhile, good and wonderful people, or at least people who are loved and needed by other people, are dying every day. And I just keep on living. Oh Death, what the fuck is wrong with you? I’m right here!!! What the fuck are you waiting for!!?!?!?

First Sight-Seeing in Hannover

August 30th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

It’s the afternoon of the same day on which I wrote the last entry, and although I’m still “sick” I feel a lot better after giving myself a nice dose of Deustchlandsleben, which probably isn’t a real world even in German but “life in Germany” should translate to that. I was going to go to the Rathaus, but apparently “Rathaus” means something other than “City Hall” which is “Stadthalle”. So I used Google to find where the Stadthalle was, wrote out some directions and headed out.

As soon as I got to the city centre I realised things were a lot more festive than usual. That was to be expected for a Wochenende but I couldn’t remember there being this many extra Bier- and Wurst-stands last Saturday, and there certainly hadn’t been any stages set up for musicians. But I worked my way through the crowds until I was back on normal streets, now on the East Side of town, heading towards the Stadthalle. The East Side, I discovered, is extremely nice. Much much nicer than where I live. Lots of trees and fields and whatnot. I walked along the edge of the Eilenriede, the City Forest, on my way to the Stadthalle and resolved to check it out on my way back.

Without any incident at all I reached the Stadthalle (the walk took just under an hour) which was not as impressive as the “So Schön ist Hannover” book I had been perusing the other day made it sound. Just a really big dome on top of an otherwise normal-but-still-pretty-nice stone building. But around back was a really nice Stadtpark, with a lot of little trails and flower gardens. I sat on a bench opposite the Hall with a view of the two reflecting ponds surrounded by flowers laid out behind it. It was pretty nice. I just sat there and let myself appreciate all the nice places my life had taken me including this one, though the longing for death was still very strong.

Once I’d let that sink in enough, I headed back the way I came and as planned, entered the Eilenriede. This was really nice, probably the nicest place I’ve seen in Hannover so far. There were a lot more trails than I would have liked, but just being surrounded by big beautiful trees that have been undoubtedly been there for centuries was awesome. I came to a little pond and sat on a bench to watch the ducks, but these were the most boring ducks I’ve ever seen—just sitting there looking at the water and not moving at all. So I took a little bridge across the pond, where there was a bronze statue of a billy-goat at one end. Interesting, I thought. This must be the actual bridge where the billy-goats in the fairy tale outsmarted the troll. Before I wanted to I reached the other end, and was back on the street where I’d gone in.

So I walked all the way back to the city centre where the festivities were now really under way. Bands were playing, big-assed girls were shopping, Germans were drinking and eating bratwurst, almost everybody was smoking…a merry old time indeed. I’d had it in mind to try and stop at a Getränkemart (liquor store) on the way back home because I’d Googled it and found that there should be one on a street near where I live. I got to that street and walked up and down it but couldn’t find it. I did see a sign that said the name of the festival that was taking place today (don’t remember—some word I don’t know that starts with an ‘S’) so I confirmed that this was a festival and not just a normal Saturday in Hannover.

On my way back I found myself walking through the Flohmarkt, which does take place every Saturday outside a Schloß (palace) which is about a block from where I live. A whole bunch of Germans selling their junk at cheap prices. I bought myself a Weißbier glass for 1.50, thanking myself that I hadn’t bought the one I saw in Karstadt the other day for 9.50. Then I came back and saw that only 2 and a half hours had gone by since I left. It had felt like 7 hours. Maybe because it was about 4 or 5 times the typical time I’ve been spending outside of the apartment.

Anyway, I certainly enjoyed myself. The atmosphere out there was one of those distinctive “nowhere else but here” feelings, so I feel as though I’m at least getting some of my parents’ moneys’ worth out of this experience so far.

Oh, and I finally saw joggers! Two of them in the Eilenriede and one just jogging along the street near the Flohmarkt. So I guess it’s not against the law.

And out of the hundreds of girls I saw today, only about 5 or 6 were really hot. The hottest was walking along with her German father and Asian mother. She really got the best possible mix of genes out of that deal. Seriously. But other than that, nobody else really made me want to stab myself, which is good. I like living in a place where I’m not bombarded by unbelievably gorgeous and unavailable women every time I turn my head. The only really hot Germans I see on a regular basis are the ones on TV, and they’re all terrible actresses (you can tell even if you don’t speak the language) so you know there can’t be too many of them if the TV people have to settle for such untalented women in order to find those with looks that can draw an audience.

So now I’m really tired, but that won’t stop me from enjoying the rest of the day, feeling like I actually fucking did something finally, and drinking out of my new Weißbier glass tonight in spite of the mildly sick state I’m in. All I know is that going on long walks through the city is something I definitely plan on doing a lot more often.

Random Things from Dreams and Real Life

August 30th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

I’ve felt a little sick for the past week. Nothing major, just feeling a little less than perfectly healthy. Nothing new either, as all summer long I went through 3 to 10-day periods of the exact same thing. I just feel extremely tired no matter how much sleep I get, and my throat hurts. The cause is nothing I can put my finger on. Maybe allergies. But unless I’m allergic to my own underwear, there’s nothing in my environment that has remained the same. Maybe eating meat again? But it started before that, and now I’ve even given up on trying to eat red meat again because it’s just not worth the diarrhoea. Beer? I wasn’t drinking beer back home, and this began only after two days of not drinking beer here, and I haven’t drank anything for the last four days and it’s still stayed the same. In our last conversation, my mother offered the possibility that it’s psychological, the result of the complete lack of certainty and security about my life that I’ve been feeling ever since I left Santa Barbara. It seems a little ridiculous that something so physical could just be psychological, but it’s the only thing that seems to correlate. I stopped getting sick once I found out about the Germany job, and I got sick again the very afternoon after method training, on my way home after being told that I just had to sit and wait for them to call me before I could start actually working. So maybe that’s it. Maybe as soon as I get a course to teach, I’ll start feeling better.

Or maybe I’ve got some terminal illness in its earliest stages, but thanks to my lack of medical insurance I haven’t been able to find out. God, I hope it’s that. I want a deadly disease more than anything—even more than a woman. To know for certain that death is coming in just a few years or months…what unbelievable peace of mind! To absolutely know that no matter what you do, you won’t live to see 30…God I hope I’m dying.

But I want it too badly for it to be true, so I can’t count on that. All I know is that it’s extremely annoying, it’s preventing me from fully enjoying what would otherwise be an incredibly enjoyable few weeks of my life: the first few weeks in Germany during which I will have more free time than any subsequent weeks to come. I have been forcing myself to go out for one reason or another every day, but I just never feel like it. So one day I take a walk to see if there are any Laundromats in the area. Another I go to Karstadt to buy closet-hangers. Or to the Pennymarkt for some groceries. Nothing that ever takes more than an hour and a half. Today because I have absolutely no practical needs that need to be taken care of, I will take a walk to the Rathaus (city hall) which is supposedly the nicest building in the city. But if I was feeling perfectly healthy, I would most certainly have gone there already, as well as done a lot more exploring and sight-seeing. As it stands, most of my day is spent inside at the computer writing journal entries and e-mails, learning German with the Rosetta Stone, listening to lectures on religion that my grandfather loaned me and I ripped onto my hard drive, and at night watching downloaded TV shows. Every afternoon I get so tired I take an hour-long nap. In the evening during dinner I watch two episodes of the Simpsons in German and an extra hour of German TV to help me with the language. That’s my routine. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all of it, but…well isn’t it obvious? This is not a life. This doesn’t even resemble a life.

The most interesting parts of my day are my dreams. Last night I had another really good one. It started off badly: I was back at the Doubletree, still fired but having to work one more night shift before they let me go. I was there in the back with one other person, don’t know who he was. I was nervous about getting the phones because it had been so long and I didn’t remember how to do anything. The first call was from Tanya, one of the actual front desk employees, asking to be connected to Ronan, another actual employee. I couldn’t figure out how to make the transfer, but the other guy there helped me do it. The next call was from a guest looking to get a room as part of some group, and I tried to log into the system but I had no idea what I was doing so I said that for group reservations they would have to call back after 7:30. Which is totally true in real-life.

Then a whole bunch of other real and not-real front-desk employees came in and I was talking to them about my new job in Germany and how it was weird to be back here and how I couldn’t wait to leave. After a short while a few of them set up a webcam and began filming some joke video for YouTube. They were all talking German. Actual, correct German, as well as I can speak it. That’s when it all became completely clear to me. “Thank you,” I said to them. “Thank you for…well, you know what, and I know you can’t admit it, so I’m going to go now.” I took a couple of steps towards the door and then changed my mind. “The window is as good a place as any. Bye.” So I jumped out the window, fell to the ground, and landed painlessly on the grass.

I began flapping my arms and took off into the night sky, flying over the hotel and out to the beach, which was much bigger and nicer than the real one. I got the urge to go swimming, but I didn’t want the water to be cold, so I just imagined it was the temperature of the water in the Caribbean, and it actually changed to that turquoise colour as I dove in and swam around in the extremely convincing brain-simulation of the surf. When I got tired of that it was daytime again and the beach was full of people. I walked around looking for a fake dream-person to hang out with. Seeing as how I was in southern California, I figured maybe Krissi would be somewhere. And there she was. We said hello, and I asked her if she wanted to take a flight with me. She said sure, and I held onto her and tried to just lift myself up by thinking about it, but only got a few feet off the ground. “It’s no use, I can’t make it work without flapping,” I said. So we each held on to each others’ waists, locked our legs together like in a potato-sack race, and I flapped my left arm while she flapped her right. Worked like a charm. We took off into the sky and began flying East, over the desert, the mountains, almost all the way across the country. She offered me a chocolate bar. I took it, but as soon as I started eating it, the simulation stopped. It was like I was waking up, but I could still taste the delicious chocolate bar in my mouth, so I just concentrated on that sensation. In total darkness and nothingness I just kept eating the chocolate bar. Then I fake-woke-up and continued dreaming, no longer realising I was dreaming.

Fun stuff. So anyway, that’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to me all week, something not even real. In real life yesterday, I tried to figure out why my internet connection was so slow. I had been trying to watch the speeches from the democratic convention on, but it would take about ten minutes just to download ten seconds. I went to an O2 store (the name of my internet provider) and asked if there was something I could buy to make it go faster. Using only German I got from him that my signal was probably weak because I live on the fourth floor, and it usually weakens after the 3rd floor but I could call the hot-line and there was something they could do to boost the signal at my address. So I called the hotline, asked for the English-speaking department, waited ten minutes and got an English-speaker who for some reason felt he needed to transfer me to another English-speaker, and I waited another 20 minutes until the money on my phone card ran out and I got cut off. So I went back out again, put more money on my phone, then began the call again on my way back to my apartment, expecting another 40-minute wait. But I got an English-speaker who could actually help me just as I was getting into my apartment, and after finding my account information he told me that I had exceeded the 10 Gigabyte monthly-download limit and so was bumped to a slower connection for the remainder of the month. Luckily, the month is almost over, so the speed should be back to normal starting Monday. But the fact that I’m limited to 10 Gigs a month (he said they are working on their service and the limit should be raised soon) sucks for me. I download a lot of shit. But whatever, it’s the same old thing. Nothing is easy, and when you do get a solution it’s only half-satisfactory. I’ll just have to watch Obama’s stupid speech a few days after he gave it.

Monday is also the day I am supposedly meeting with Ms Weiß to give her private English lessons, but I didn’t hear back from Frau Giesecke after confirming that I would do it so I don’t know where to meet her or even if it’s all set. Maybe she changed her mind or something. So the uncertainty is still all up in the air.

Meanwhile, I am still all alone and isolated from humanity, though having a rather pleasant time of it in spite of everything, including this god-forsaken psycho-somatic sickness.


August 28th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

Yesterday I sent an e-mail to the Sprachschule asking how long I should expect to wait before I start getting courses to teach. Frau Giesecke, the woman who “hired” me wrote back today saying as soon as they had lessons for me they would contact me. No time frame.

But she did say something that immediately improved my mood: would you be interested in giving private lessons to a young lady, Ms. Weiß, who would like to meet twice a week to improve her communications skills? Fuck yeah I’d like to give private lessons to Ms. Weiß! Just tell me when and where to meet her!

Also, a student would like a two-week crash course in October to help her study for her exams. Would I be interested in that? Fuck yeah, I would!

So starting Monday I will finally begin actually doing what I came here to do, and teach English for money. Not only that, but I’ll be giving private lessons to a young lady. Of course, she may not be attractive or interesting, but I’ll bet she knows people who are. That she can tell me where attractive and interesting young women like to hang out in this fucking city. In any case, this is very good news and I am very much looking forward to meeting Ms. Weiß.

So that’s two of the things that were bothering me now off the list of things bothering me. What does that leave? Oh yeah, nothing. Those were the only two things. Not knowing when I’d start teaching and not meeting any girls around here. Problems solved. Tentatively. You just never know.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

Neighbor Trouble

August 27th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

Perhaps I can’t enjoy it too much. I decided to listen to music while drinking last night instead of watching TV shows. Because it was a Tuesday and not a Friday I made sure to keep the living room door closed and the music at what I assumed was a reasonable volume. Yet around 11:00 I heard some banging on my door. Not knowing what it was, figuring it might just be some kids going around banging on everyone’s door, I simply switched over to headphones and continued to enjoy the music by tapping on the glass table here in the living room with my fingers. After about ten minutes, there was more banging on my door as well as a ringing of the doorbell. At that point I was about as buzzed as I could be, and I really didn’t feel like going to the door and getting yelled at by whoever might be there. I got the message: don’t listen to music at night, don’t even tap on your table.

Then my phone started ringing at this same exact time. Holy shit, what the fuck is going on here? Well, the phone turned out to be my mother, calling at 6 p.m. eastern which is midnight here. I was pretty freaked out when I answered the phone but I calmed down, had a nice conversation, then finished listening to music on my headphones without tapping on a damn thing, except maybe the glass of beer I held in my hand. Then I went to sleep.

After a couple of interesting nightmares, one involving a girl I knew in high school accusing me of being a womanizer and just directing all sorts of unwarranted hostility my way, and another involved me being held captive in my home in Glen Gardner by a violent cult of muscular black men who shot me and cut me several times over the course of the dream, just as I finally struck back and was slitting the throat of their leader, the sound of a single ring of my doorbell woke me up. But this wasn’t the first time that’s happened, and again I wasn’t going to answer the door. I just continued to lie down and even though it was 9 a.m. I have nothing to do today and wanted to sleep in as long as possible, so I just continued to lay there until 10 when I figured I should get up.

I ate some breakfast and hopped in the shower. No sooner did I get in the shower than my doorbell rings again, this time multiple times. Well, what the fuck do you want from me? I thought. I’m in the fucking shower, can’t you hear? You expect me to come to the door NOW? I just went on showering but the doorbell kept ringing, again and again and again. So I turned the water off and shouted, “Ich dusche! Ich kann nicht kommen!” and turned the water on again. But then I heard a woman’s voice loud and clear. She had opened up the mail-slot and was saying something. It was definitely the same woman from Friday night who had rung my doorbell while I had been listening to music then and had said something incomprehensible to me. She was equally incomprehensible this time, so I turned off the water again and shouted “Was?” She continued on incomprehensibly, but I got two words loud and clear: “nacht” which is “night” and “Polizei” which is obvious.

That was about ten minutes ago, so for all I know the police could come busting in here at any moment to talk to me about respect for my neighbours and all that. And I will have to somehow use my extremely limited German to explain to them that I got the point, that I had already resolved not to tap on my fucking glass table anymore and what the fuck is this bitch’s problem anyway? Of course she may have only been informing me that if it happens again she’ll call the police, in which case there’s no problem. Or maybe it had nothing to do with music or glass-tapping at all, and she just needed to let me know that the police are coming for a totally unrelated matter, but judging by the correlation between my listening to music and hearing from her, I’m pretty sure the glass-tapping is the issue. Which makes perfect sense. It didn’t seem to me that lightly tapping on the surface of a glass table which sits atop a floor rug would be much of a bother to the people below me, but I suppose even the faint sound of rhythmic tapping could be annoying to someone trying to get to sleep at night. Which is why I fucking stopped. Can we just leave it at that?

Anyway I’m fucking pissed. All those years I spent living with loud neighbours—in college, in Frankfurt, in college again, in Santa Barbara—and now I’m the loud one? All those years I just let it slide, kept it to myself, let them enjoy their music which I felt they had every right to do, and just tried to put it out of my mind…now I can’t play my music out loud even at what is to me much less volume than I’d prefer? I can’t even lightly tap on anything connected to the floor to get into the music? What the fuck? It just doesn’t seem fair, goddammit.

Anyway…what else is going on in my life? Oh yeah…nothing. I suppose I should go out and try to find out about getting a driver’s license and all that but I so do not fucking feel like it. I’ll just make myself do that stuff anyway. I really wish I had a job so I didn’t feel so fucking insecure right now. I’m just supposed to wait for a phone-call from the language school, but I wasn’t given any indication whether that would be days or weeks or ever. My mom told me on the phone that I should probably look into bussing tables or something that will allow me to make some money instead of counting completely on the language school thing. I don’t know what her obsession is with bussing tables, but she brings it up all the time and even told my brother that he should do it. It’s like she won’t be happy until one of her sons has done the worst job I can possibly imagine, which is to clean up the nasty nausea-inducing remains of other people’s food.

Well fuck that. I’d rather sit out on the street with a hat and a sign reminding people that Jesus wants them to give me their money. Not that it would ever come to that. I could just return to the U.S. in shame, having drained my parents of thousands of dollars for absolutely nothing but a horrifically unpleasant memory of the time I thought I had gotten a job overseas but was actually just being jerked around.

Waking Life

August 26th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

My favourite dream so far came last night.  Once again, it took place in high school (it’s really as though my soul never left that fucking place) and it was near graduation and the entire senior class was there at night in the gym to hang out and watch movies as some sort of way of preparing to part ways or whatever.  Not really important.  But afterwards, when morning came and we all began heading home, I got into a religious debate with a couple of religious people who don’t really exist, and I was backed up by my atheist friend from high-school Lars, who really does exist.  But Lars wasn’t taking it too seriously while for some reason I couldn’t help but get extremely passionate.  My opponent was trying to tell me about how the only way to salvation was through Jesus Christ, and I was boiling with rage trying to explain to him what an ignorant, horrible, evil proposition that was as well as being just completely irrational and indefensible.  Naturally, my opponent wouldn’t budge.

I got so worked up that I just started running around screaming “God is dead!” at the top of my lungs, stopping my fellow classmates who were now a bit more dispersed but still pretty much all together as we walked through the streets, and yelling at them about how they needed to stop believing in God because it was wrong wrong wrong on every possible level.  I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I know my arguments were eloquent and rational and if I could remember them verbatim they would probably make perfect sense in the non-dream world as well.

Well, all my running around and preaching the atheist gospel actually did have an effect, but a horrific one.  Some of my classmates began taking out guns and shooting others.  A few angry people started yelling at me that this was my fault, that by destroying the belief in God there was nothing to stop anyone from killing each other.  One of them took out a gun and aimed it at me, and for an instant I felt myself paralysed with fear, with the thought “what have I done?”  But I snapped out of it immediately and walked right up to the guy, saying “Shoot me!  Do it!”  I grabbed the gun in his hand and shoved it into my chest still pointing at me, goading him to do it.  “If the fear of God is the only thing stopping you from shooting me, then just pull the trigger because I don’t want to live in that fucking world.”  He didn’t know what to do.  He wouldn’t fire.  I let the gun go and walked away.

Gunshots from somewhere else.  People screaming.  I run towards the sound and got hit in the stomach by a stray bullet.  I collapse to the ground in pain, holding my hand over the blood gushing out of me, absolutely overjoyed that this this was it…that in just a few minutes I would be dead.  A small crowd of people gathered around, waiting to see how the atheist reacts in his last moments.  “Oh my God!” I exclaimed, “There’s a tunnel, and a bright light, and…ha ha ha!  Just kidding!  There’s nothing.”  I was so happy I could even make wisecracks at such a time.  Someone there asked me what I did see, and I told them what it was like.  I seemed to be seeing the whole world through a red lens, and with each passing moment the images grew crisper and a feeling of adrenaline was rising.  I compared the sensation to tripping on acid, and remarked about how I’d never felt more alive.  The red changed to yellow, to green, blue, and finally violet, and I knew I was nearing the end.  Finally the world was swallowed in darkness as I collapsed on the ground and waited.

Yet I remained conscious.  I expected my consciousness to cease at any moment, or at least for SOMETHING, to happen, but I just lay there still very much alive and no longer feeling the pain from the bullet.  I sat up again and said to everyone, “Well, that’s too bad.  If this wasn’t a dream I would really know what death is like, but I guess I’ll just have to wait.”  I got up, left them all behind, and moved on to the next, entirely unrelated part of the dream.

All that happened yesterday after method training was that I finally opened a bank account and got internet service in my apartment. Today I copied the e-mails I’ve been writing to Krissi and Corey into this journal, and these are the first words I’ve actually written exclusively for the journal. I felt too shitty to go out and see about the driver’s licence and stuff, but I did e-mail Myriam in Ichenheim to ask her about things like medical insurance, taking out an ad, and meeting Germans my age. Then in spite of my feeling shitty (which only started a day after I stopped drinking beer every night, so I have no idea what it is but it’s nothing new because it happened all the time over the summer and I had assumed it was something to do with allergies) I decided fuck it I’m going running. So I went out and ran along the river, once again the only person jogging, then came back, studied German, and took a nap. Tonight I’ll go out and bring home a Döner Kebab for dinner, do some drinking and watch my downloaded TV shows like I’ve been doing every night. Every day has been pretty much the same kind of routine with minor variations, which is how I like it. I’m very comfortable in this apartment now, and still not really lonely from lack of friends. This is a nice little chunk of time I’m in, so until things actually start happening, I intend to enjoy it.

Categories: Personal Tags: , , , ,

Method Training (Twice)

August 25th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

My dreams have become deeply fascinating since I got here, as I remember them much more vividly.  One dream last night had me back in high school for the umpteen-millionth time, but this was different because I was actually back in TIME and my old high-school-age self was still there, and it was during the build-up to the Aimee crisis.  She was there too of course, and naturally even my current self felt overwhelming amounts of unwarranted love for her.  I was trying to convince my younger self that it wasn’t going to get any better, that he should go with his impulse and kill himself now.  Naturally I woke up before anything was resolved.

The next dream was much more fun.  I went to the Method Training for the language school, and it was a bunch of people my age, mostly girls, and it was being run by one moderately attractive girl who I don’t think is based on any real life person and her face kept undergoing slight changes.  I was trying to ask real questions like should I buy a monthly pass for the subway to get to these places and to really learn how to conduct a lesson, but nobody else was taking it seriously.  A very short time into the lesson they all decided to take a smoke break, so we went out to another room and there were even more people out there passing around a bong with what looked like red skittles and weed.  I was conflicted—on the one hand I wanted to be clear-minded for method training, but on the other hand…so I took a small hit and got a tiny bit buzzed but nothing major.  As I sat there I noticed the girl who had been running the “training” was looking at me, and I was looking back at her and smiling and she was smiling at me and I could hardly believe it.  This moderately-attractive girl was actually, unmistakably interested in me.  But we never said anything to each other, and we never did go back to training.  We just kept passing around the bong until it was time to board a little raft-boat thingy that took us on a crazy ride through a rapidly flowing river surrounded by glaciers.  Man, I thought, teaching English abroad is fun!

Then I woke up and went to ACTUAL method training which was a lot less fun.  It was just me and an older south-African woman, and an even older British guy conducting the training, which was basically very common-sense but useful tips on how to conduct a lesson using the Inlingua method.  I learned that some of the places I will be going may be in other towns altogether, that I would indeed most likely need a monthly subway pass (depending on where I will be teaching), and that the lessons are actually an hour and a half, and I get paid 14 Euros for each 45-minute “lesson” of which there are two per lesson.  So 80 lessons per month actually means 40 lessons a month and 28 Euros per lesson, which sounds good to me.  I also need to get medical insurance because it’s mandatory here, and I might need to get my driver’s license converted to a German driver’s license so I can take the company car if I need to go to another town.  A lot of shit to think about.  When the training was over, nobody was there to tell us when and where we would be starting, but we were just told by a secretary that they would call us and let us know.

And that’s where things stand right now.  The south-African lady was really nice and gave me some advice which I found EXTREMELY interesting.  Apparently I can just advertise myself as a freelance English tutor in a newspaper and charge my own price for private lessons.  She charges 15 Euros per private lesson at a home, and 60 Euros for lessons at businesses.  So apparently I can do this too.  The only problem is figuring out how to take out an ad, but it’s so common-sense that I can’t believe I didn’t realise it: I have a skill with a monetary value in this country, and all I have to do is sell it to make money.  No affiliation with a school is necessary.

So while I wait to get lessons, I must figure out all this shit about driving license, medical insurance, and newspaper ads.  A pain in the ass for all of them I’m sure, but what the fuck else am I gonna do?

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,


August 23rd, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

Thankfully, nothing interesting happened yesterday.  I decided to celebrate my first week in Germany with a good old fashioned drink-beer-and-sing-along-to-your-music-night.  At first I started playing it from the TV because I’ve got the lap-top hooked up to it, but there was a stereo sitting right there so I decided what the hell I can give it a shot.  And for the first time since I got here, something actually worked!  I was able to play my music from the computer through the stereo!  I didn’t have to run around the city and buy special items or anything!  Just plugged the things into the aux ports and out the speakers came the music!  Incredible.

At one point my doorbell rang, and I assumed it was a neighbour telling me to keep it down.  I figured I would use my German to say, “Its Friday night, asshole.  Can a guy play loud music in his own apartment on a Friday fucking night?  I know you don’t have to get up and go to work tomorrow.”  But when I opened the door it was some old lady already on her way down the stairs, who looked up at me and spoke some incomprehensible German (the only word I understood was “nass” which means “wet”) so it might have had something to do with the storm outside.  Or she could have been telling me to keep my music down.  I may never know.  But I continued blasting my music for another hour and nobody complained.

My dreams last night were pretty interesting.  In one of them I was a woman (yet another fantasy come true) living in some unspecified historical time period before this century.  I was being traded by my husband for somebody’s daughter, and my new owner beat me.  I remember getting really really angry that I lived in a world where I and all the other women were property.  I woke up genuinely upset that millions of women have actually really gone through that, and that some still are.  Fuck the human race.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

Around and Around

August 22nd, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

No actual events have happened since my last e-mail other than my going to the river and running for the first time, so most of this e-mail will just be an expression of my thoughts and feelings so far.  As for the running, it felt FANTASTIC but kind of weird too because I was absolutely the only person running.  Everyone else was either biking or walking their dog.  One unleashed dog ran up to me and maybe it almost bit me.  Its owner stopped me and said something.  I couldn’t understand a word, I just kept looking at his teeth (or lack thereof).  I imagine he has never even heard the word Zahnartztin (dentist), and he probably has never owned a Zahnbürste (toothbrush).  He might have been telling me I wasn’t supposed to run there because of the animals, but I just apologised and said I was from America.  “Ach so” (I see) he said, and moved on.  Nobody else stopped me, so I plan on continuing to run there unless I come across a better place in my wanderings.  But come to think of it I haven’t seen anyone else in this city jogging anywhere.  There were plenty of joggers in Frankfurt, so I don’t get it.  Whatever.

Speaking of Frankfurt, I have mentioned that there were a lot more English-speakers there, and this is currently my main concern.  I know it’s early, and maybe one morning I’ll wake up and realise I’m fluent in German, but until I can comfortably communicate without asking, “Was bedeutet…?” or “Wie sagt man…?” (“what does…mean?” and “how do you say…?”) every other sentence it’s going to be pretty fucking tricky finding people to hang out with, LET ALONE a girl, which seems even more impossible than ever right now.  I assumed I would be teaching at a language school where I would find plenty of people who could speak English or speak it good enough to hang out with and understand, but now that I know I will actually just be going to businesses and not meeting fellow teachers, it’s going to be a lot more difficult.

I still haven’t gone out at night, but I think I just need to get a little more comfortable here before doing that alone and besides I really shouldn’t at the moment anyway because nothing drains the money faster than going to a bar.  And even if I go to a bar, what am I supposed to do?  Walk up to the most fun-looking people I see and use my broken and horrible German to ask them if I can join them and sit awkwardly while they carry on in a language I can barely understand?  Try to laugh when the rest of them are laughing even when I don’t understand the joke so as to not make them uncomfortable?  Try to respond to their questions to the best of my ability but never saying anything interesting because I lack to vocabulary to do so?  I would just be imposing an awkward presence on anyone I approach, so right now I just don’t think I can accomplish anything by going out at night.

As for the girls, I forgot just how cold and stand-offish they are, ESPECIALLY those my age.  They all have this permanent expression like they are pissed off at the fact that you are even thinking about them, and way more times than I am comfortable with they have started laughing when I make eye contact, probably at something their obligatory not-as-hot-friend-walking-beside-them said, but it’s incredibly easy to imagine that they’re laughing at me.  It was hard enough to picture myself intimately involved with ANY girl, but a GERMAN girl…absolutely impossible to imagine.

At the university in Frankfurt I took classes mostly having to do with American literature, which were mostly filled with English-speaking German girls, several of whom I actually hung out with.  Those kinds of girls are not as easy to find here.  They may in fact be around, but it seems the only way to find them would be to walk up to all of them and say, “Do you speak English?” and then if I miraculously get a “yes” follow up with, “I just moved here from America and I have no friends yet.  Would you be my friend?” And just the thought of doing that…I mean maybe I could theoretically start doing that, and maybe it could theoretically work, but I would have to drink a lot of beer before growing the necessary hair on my balls to do so, and by then I would probably come across as a complete bucket of drunken sleaze, some dirty American out on the prowl for German pussy.

Anyway, those are the thoughts that depress me at night.  But happily they are well counter-balanced by the thought that HELLO…I live in fucking Germany!  I actually LIVE in Germany.  I mean, come on!  I don’t live in New Jersey.  I don’t live in some bullshit town called Glen Gardner that even people 10 miles away have never heard of.  I live in a city in Germany, a city that’s existed for a millennium, a city that even the King of England in 1492 knew about!  I just decided to live in another country, did what I needed to do, and now I’m here, actually doing it!  To quote Radiohead: “This is really happening.”

And basically it kicks ass.  I’m just too damned realistic not to realise that eventually the novelty of it WILL wear off and then I will just be left with the fact that I have no friends and my chances of finding a girl are lower than ever.  But luckily, I have never had many friends anyway, and I have always considered my chances of finding a girl to be 0%.  And I can not understate just how much I love living alone.  The joy of not sharing my place with anyone…of being able to walk around naked, to shit with the bathroom door open, to cook whenever I want to cook and shower whenever I want to shower and ALL of that…I will never stop appreciating that.  So right now I could hardly care less about not having friends or a girl.  The fact that I do let it bother me this early in the game is kind of absurd.

So that’s where I stand right now on everything.  My current life can best be characterised as a long vacation interspersed with periods of frustration, my spirits mostly good but occasionally brought down by loneliness, but never far enough to truly bother me.  I am up now, but by the end of the day I will have gone down again, up again, and down again at least three more times.  My brain will just sit back and try to enjoy the ride.

Angel at the Ordnungsamt

August 21st, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

Two days ago I learned from the bank that I might be able to open an account even with my old and invalidated passport, but first I had to go to the Bürgeramt for an official document with my Hannover address.  Yesterday I went there and learned I had to go to the Auslandstelle to get the paper from them, but naturally they were closed.  I went back to the internet place to ask if I could pay in cash or with a credit card, but apparently they don’t want my money unless it comes from a German bank account.  Whatever.  This morning I went to the Auslandstelle, totally expecting to be told that I couldn’t register with them until I got my new passport.  There were only two people in front of me, but I waited about an hour and a half (once again the book on atheism turning out to be a blessing from heaven) until I got called in.  The girl working there seriously looked like an angel.  Pale skinned and pale-blue-eyed with blonde hair and without a single imperfection on her face or body.  God what a beauty.  I was so tempted to ask her out but she barely spoke a word of English and I wasn’t sure I wanted to date someone with whom communication would be a constant never-ending headache.  Plus I’m apparently still a huge pussy and her angelic beauty was just too overwhelming.

As she typed away at her screen my stomach tied itself into knots.  At any moment I expected her to turn to me and say my passport was no good and I had just been wasting my time by coming here.  But an angel she was, and the next thing I knew I had my piece of paper with which I could take to the bank to open an account, with which I could FINALLY get the internet in my apartment.  Of course the bank doesn’t have an opening for an appointment until Monday, so I’ve got at least another 4 days to wait, but today for the first time, PROGRESS has finally been made and I can see the light at the end of this absurd tunnel.

The only other thing going on is the apartment situation, which like everything else has only come to a half-resolution.  I met the landlady at the rental agency, and while my man Herr Klinger was unfortunately absent the guy there managed to explain to her that if a guy is paying to live at your apartment is it kind of expected that you remove your personal belongings.  She agreed to come by later and take more stuff out, which she did.  So I won’t be leaving early, but now I have more closet space, the refrigerator is free of that awful-smelling spice, and I now know how to work the oven (a ridiculously over-complicated yet do-able process that involves leaking gas and lighting matches) and get the TV on aux so I can hook up my computer and Nintendo Wii.  The TV, however, is old and doesn’t seem to like the Wii, and even with my doo-hikkie that allowed me to attach it to the German TV (of course they have different audio/video inputs) it only came through either really blurry or in black and white.  A ridiculous process of me going back and forth to the electronics store twice (which is luckily only five minutes away just like everything else) ensued and I finally found a cable made specifically to attach a Wii to a German TV.  Now it comes in clearly but in red-tones and some inverted colours.  This just confirms the rule of thumb of Germany: nothing can ever be simple, and when a solution is found it’s only half-satisfactory.  So now I can play Mario but he is wearing Luigi colours and the levels make it look like he’s on acid.  But hey, that might just make it more fun.  At least my computer hook-up works and I can watch my downloaded TV shows on the TV with the sound from its uncharacteristically good speakers.  I just can’t download new stuff until Monday, but with my wonderful foresight I made sure I had plenty of already-downloaded stuff before I came here.

My such triviality.  Anyway, I won’t be moving out early.  There are a few things that still bother me but they are really minor, and the place is getting more and more psychologically comfortable every day.  Besides, there are many advantages to her having left her stuff there, like me not needing to buy anything like dishes, towels, sheets, shampoo and soap yet.  She even left an umbrella, though I doubt I will ever use it because I love being out in the rain anyway.  Maybe when winter comes and the rain isn’t so warm and nice I will need it.  But I can’t escape the major advantage, which is location.  Not only is it 5 minutes from everything I could ever need, its right by the river and and Old City.  The spectacular dome of a huge church dominates the view from my living room window, which needless to say kicks ass.

And the best part of all is that she STILL hasn’t asked for any money, and now she’s going on vacation until September 1st, by which time I might have an income anyway, so I am free to spend spend spend!  Not that I’m going to, but it’s oh so nice to know I can.  So yeah, here I am living in a nice apartment in downtown Hannover with nothing to do but enjoy myself and wait until I can start my job which is going to be pretty enjoyable as well—every day will be a new adventure to a new business where I will meet new people to whom the service I render will be invaluable and greatly appreciated.

What the fuck have I been complaining about?  Except for the nightly pangs of excruciating loneliness (which are so familiar that I barely feel them), my life is unbelievably fantastic!  It almost makes me want to thank the God-who-doesn’t-exist and let him laugh at me all he wants.  So I lose my passport and go through mega-shit which I didn’t need to go through anyway because of it.  So I have to wait awhile and run about here and there before getting the internet at my place.  So I can’t get a perfect picture on my Nintendo.  So I’m sharing an apartment with an Arab lady’s things.  All of these are incredibly small prices to pay when I look at the big picture, which is that I AM LIVING IN FUCKING GERMANY and all I have to do is help some businesspeople learn English.  Laugh all you want, nonexistent God.  All in all, it’s a pretty sweet fucking deal indeed.