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Archive for September, 2008

Financial Tables Turning?

September 30th, 2008 No comments

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

It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around. Yesterday being Monday, a business day, I finally went all-out and took the page Frau Giesecke had given me from the yellow pages listing all of the language schools in town, and called six of them in the morning before my hair had even dried. Of the six, one told me to wait until October 6 when the person who could help me returned from vacation, three told me to just send my resume and wait, and two actually scheduled me for a next-day interview. This morning I had an interview with the Carl Duisberg language school, which is almost exactly like Inlingua in their method of operations except that they pay 17 euros a lesson instead of 14, and they don’t have their own textbooks. The good news is that I’m pretty much hired—they’ll start offering me lessons just like Inlingua as soon as they can. The bad news is they can’t offer me any lessons until I’ve got a work permit, which means it can’t be right away. I still need to wait for my medical insurance, at which point I can head back to the Ordnungsamt and apply for a work permit, which hopefully won’t take long to clear. Worst case scenario I’ve got to wait another month. Best case, I get it all taken care of this week and start getting lessons next week. These lessons would be mostly intensive one-on-one training for 4 hours a day, and at 17 euros a lesson (a lesson being 45 minutes) that adds up to a lot more money than I’ve been making by Inlingua. But whether it takes a week or a month is not as important as the fact that the deal is pretty much sealed, and I can expect a newer and bigger source of income in the near future.

Not to mention I’ve still got five other options pending, including another interview this afternoon. Something tells me I’ll probably need a work permit for any of these places and that Inlingua was just a weird exception, but again it doesn’t matter. It’s just a matter of saying, “Mom, I just need one more check for x amount and after that I should be on my own.” Going back to the states in shame doesn’t seem all that likely anymore.

On the Inlingua front, I finally asked Frau Giesecke yesterday about why they said they could guarantee me 80 lessons per month. I felt like such an asshole doing it because she’s so fucking nice and my question clearly caught her off guard and put her on the defensive, and she just started talking about the crash-course I’d be giving in October for lack of a clear answer, and then said she would ask the other woman, Frau Barova-Loeffel about it. After my lesson with Ms. Weiß (who finally actually showed up) Frau Giesecke was able to tell me that the person who had wrote that to me, Frau Lehman, had just been guessing, and then she really had no idea that 80 lessons was way more than the typical amount each teacher receives. I don’t know why the word “guarantee” was used but apparently she hadn’t been lying, she just didn’t know what she was talking about. Oh well, I only moved all the way across the Atlantic with the impression that I’d be able to afford to live here with just this job. No big deal. But Frau Giesecke was of course extremely nice and sweet about it and let me use the computer to print copies of my resume, and she wished me luck with my interviews and everything.

I also got the details of my crash-course with Ms. Dunsing (or something like that) which will be four days a week for two weeks starting October 13. Apparently this girl is just finishing high-school (or “Gymnasium” as they call it) and they all have to take an exam to graduate and I guess English is a part of it because she wants my help to prepare for it. So…in two weeks I’ll be meeting an 18 or 19 year old girl and working with her for two weeks.

I want to mention my dreams last night because they totally kicked ass. There was one in which I was back in the states visiting friends at some weird tropical cape-cod-shaped place that was supposed to be Long Island. There was lots of swimming around and breathing underwater and fun stuff like that, but nothing worth mentioning until evening fell and we went into a bar and I spotted Krissi who was bartending and for some reason I knew then that it was a dream. But it wasn’t like a sudden realisation for anything—it was just kind of like acknowledging what I’d known all along. “Krissi!” I yelled and she spotted me, quite happy to see me. I told her to sit next to me and not to worry about work because it wasn’t real anyway. “So, James Dudek,” I began (calling her by the name on her e-mail account, the name of a kid we knew in high school who went from total loser to folk-legend thanks to the acid-induced creativity of the ‘cool’ crowd), “you’ve made it into one of my dreams. What do you want to do? I don’t have any preference, but we can do just about anything. But you’d better choose fast because I’m probably going to wake up again soon. This dream has already been going on for a long time.” She didn’t pick anything, we just started talking. Then I woke up.

But when I was already lucid when I went into my next dream, and having no clear objective I just went along with the flow but constantly aware that I could control whatever I wanted. It was great. The basic plot of the dream was a class-trip to the planetarium, but we never quite made it there because stuff kept happening along the way. When we reached a cool spot by the water I just said we should stop and hang out here because we were obviously never going to make it to the planetarium—I know how dreams like this work. So we chilled out by the water. There was a kid who dunked a big toy pick-up truck underneath the water and you could see the surface of the water in the back of the toy truck still underneath the water. Bubbles started rising to the top, and we all started doing things like dunking cups underwater and watching the same thing happen. The bubbles felt really good and I remarked about the possibilities in terms of sexual pleasure. The “teacher” told me to watch it but I said “Who cares? It’s not real anyway” pointing out how real bubbles form from air and would never just continuously form like that.

Knowing my alarm was set for 9:00, and that the last time I woke up my clock had said 8:07, I figured we didn’t have much time left so we might as well head back to the school. It had felt like way more than an hour had past, but judging by the ratio of dream-time to waking-time we were still probably nearing the end. We got back to the school very quickly and rather than go inside I invited some of the people there to fly around with me. I’m usually the only one who can fly in lucid dreams but this time I was able to explain the process and get a couple of others, including Charisma who had been in my under-water dream a few weeks ago (and whom I got back in contact with in real life the day after). I just said to picture yourself swimming through the air, and soon enough three of us were breast-stroking through the air until we landed on the top of the school. “I should be waking up any minute,” I thought, and saw that the clock on the school read 8:59. “Let’s see if we can fly to the ocean before my alarm goes off,” I said, and we took off and flew away, soon enough reaching the water’s edge. As we were approaching I heard the sound of an alarm, but I said to just ignore it, let’s dive into the water before I wake up. So I flew out to sea a bit further as the sound of the alarm grew louder, then plunged into the water and woke up.

Hitting the alarm on my phone I was shocked to see it was already 9:37. I was going to be late for my interview. But another clock said with was only 8:32, and another said it was 10:26. But the time on all these displays were flickering like the clocks in the movie Waking Life. Ironically this didn’t even clue me in, and I was just about to call the language school to let them know I’d be late when I woke up for real, checked my phone and saw that the actual time was 8:55.

It was just so fucking striking, in a very good way, just how incredible the mind is. I don’t know if dreams are something spiritual, consciousness detached from bodily existence, or whether they’re just the product of a complex process of neurons firing all over the place, but they sure are fucking fascinating sometimes. And to be totally aware while you’re dreaming, to be able to consciously study the phenomenon while you’re still technically unconscious, is just mind-bogglingly awesome.

So anyway, between the kick-ass dreams and the interview this morning, I’m finally in a good mood again.

Eilenriede

September 28th, 2008 No comments

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

Today has been even more fuck-you-in-the-ass beautiful than yesterday, so naturally I had to go for another walk. It was a choice between the Maschsee and the Eilenriede, and since I’ve been around the Machsee thrice and only through the Eilenriede once, and just a small fraction of it, the choice was not difficult.

I checked out the city forest a few weeks ago when I went to the nice but ultimately disappointing Statdhalle, and was quite impressed by it. But because it’s a half-hour walk just to get there and Mary Poppins Park as well as the river are much closer, I haven’t been back since. Now that the leaves are starting to change I figured it would be the perfect time to go back and explore it more thoroughly.

The weather was even a bit better than yesterday because it was a tad cooler and the sky was about half-full of clouds (or half-empty if you prefer) so the sun was not constantly shining. The forest was even more beautiful than last time as the leaves were a mixture of green and yellow, with fallen leaves lining the paths. I quickly walked through the area where I’d been before and found it to be too full of paths and people, and crossed a couple of roads that run through the forest until I reached the “Naturwald” or the part of the forest that is the most natural out of the whole thing. Now the paths were much less frequent, and there were even some just-barely-a-trail trails running deeper into the woods. I took these little paths and ventured off the track several times, going deeper and deeper as the sound of the surrounding roads faded further and further. Finally I got to a point where I couldn’t see anyone and the sound of traffic was just a slight whisper. I could almost believe I was in the middle of a forest in the wilderness. There was almost nothing at all to indicate that I was actually in the middle of a large city.

Because there was no place to sit, I had to just stop and eternalise a moment while standing, which I did when the sun peaked out from behind a cloud and rays of light came shimmering through the leaf ceiling. I stood there and let the beauty of the woods sink in, felt the crisp breeze as every now and then it gently blew and brought a shower of leaves floating gently to the ground all around me. Just beautiful.

I stood there for a good five to ten minutes until the sun went behind another cloud, then I figured it was time to head back. I was pretty much completely lost, but I knew I had to go west and since it was the afternoon all I had to do was follow the sun. I did this until I reached a path and an intersection with a sign. One of the paths led to the Stadtpark, which I knew was near the Stadthalle because I’d seen signs for it a few weeks back, so I took that path. I thought I was approaching one of the roads I had crossed earlier, but when I saw that the path emerged onto a much busier street I thought that maybe I’d been going the wrong direction.

As I approached the wood’s edge I saw the last thing I wanted to see: a girl sitting alone on a bench. I was hoping this opportunity wouldn’t present itself today. I just wasn’t in the mood. But here it was—I was lost and she was sitting there alone so I guess I had to ask her for directions. But when I did reach the edge of the woods I saw the Stadthalle across the street so I instantly knew exactly where I was. Now I had about five seconds to decide whether to stop and talk to her as I walked by. She wasn’t terribly attractive—not like the bike-girl at the Maschsee but she wasn’t ugly either. As I approached she turned and looked directly at me. I smiled. She looked away. I kept walking.

It took about five minutes before it started to bother me. At the time I really hadn’t had any desire to go up and talk to anybody, let alone a girl who was only somewhat attractive and who didn’t exactly give off the vibe that she would appreciate being approached by a stranger. Still, had I stopped and talked to her she probably would have talked to me back and it’s possible I could have finally made a friend. Making a friend was just the last thing on my mind at the time, which is of course why that’s when the opportunity came.

So I’ll chalk that up as strike 2. It wasn’t nearly as bad as not talking to bike-girl, who had already been in my consciousness before the opportunity to sit down and talk to her arose, but it was still a failure on my part to overcome my shyness. I didn’t even say “hallo” when she looked directly at me. I just smiled what was probably an awkward-looking smile. Had she smiled back, maybe I would have stopped. Had I found her as attractive as I found bike-girl, I’d like to think I definitely would have. But she wasn’t even as attractive as Victoria (Ms. Läer) and I’d already decided that she wasn’t worth the trouble. It’s extremely likely that this girl wasn’t worth the trouble either. Had I tried to have a conversation it would most likely have just been a very awkward struggle to understand each other until we reached a mutual understanding that this was going nowhere and then we would have parted ways. Of course, even with such a non-result I could at least give myself kudos for trying.

So what would have been a perfectly lovely walk got ruined by that little non-encounter. Not that I didn’t really enjoy the walk, but the memory of it will no longer just be about a pleasant experience I gave myself, but about how once again I failed to take advantage of the rare opportunity of actually meeting someone new.

I wish I knew why it was that even when I’m perfectly content to be alone, my brain still beats me up over not doing anything to change it.

Großer Garten

September 27th, 2008 No comments

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

Today is one of those fuck-you-in-the-ass-it’s-so-beautiful days, the kind you get in Santa Barbara 9 days out of 10 but here only 1 out of 15. It’s the kind of day that says to you, “If you don’t get out and walk around and take in some beauty, you are a complete waste of a life” and the fact that Fall is here and the leaves are just starting to change makes it all the more imperative because there won’t be many days like this left, and the foliage changes so quickly that you know this kind of day is just once-in-a-year, and ADD to that the fact that you probably won’t be here next year so pretty much you’d better get the fuck outside and DO something.

So I did actually go out today for a nice long walk. Not until after I watched the presidential debate of course, and read a few commentary articles about it, and wrote to Corey for a far longer amount of time than I would have liked on the subject of pornography, but after all that was done it was only 2:00 p.m. (14:00 by the German reckoning) so I took my shaved ass off the couch and out the door.

It was about a five minute walk to the Georgengarten, or “Mary Poppins Park” as I like to call it, and as expected there were lot of people about, but it was sparse enough to have plenty of space and be comfortable. Lots of families and little kids playing. Lots of attractive young ladies lying in the grass reading books, or sitting on benches and making out with their can-it-be-more-obvious-how-much-of-a-douchebag-I-am boyfriends, but the lovely trees and the flowing streams and the cool breeze in the air was enough to make none of that bother me. Of course I was keeping my eye open for attractive young ladies sitting on benches alone just waiting for me to come along, but because I had my eye open for it I didn’t come across any.

The last time I took a walk through that park when I came to the edge I reached the Großer Garten (“bigger garden) which is a gigantic fully-landscaped area surrounded by a moat that you have to pay to get into. Last time I was like, “fuck that, I’m not gonna pay to walk somewhere” but this time I figured “fuck it” I spend my money on far far less worthwhile things. So I walked around to the North entrance, talked to the lady at the Information desk in German who told me that it wasn’t worth it to go in today because it was closing early due to a fireworks show tonight. But when the fuck else am I gonna go? I may never feel like going again. Besides, there was still a good hour and forty-five minutes before it closed and there was no way I was going to walk around by myself in any garden, no matter how groß, for nearly two hours.

So I coughed up the 3 euros anyway and went inside. My first impression was that I wasn’t going to get my money’s worth because this ultra-landscaped environment, as impressive as it was as far as landscaped environments go, couldn’t really compare to the much more natural environment of the Georgengarten which was free to walk around in. Still, I was glad I came because I knew I’d never go back and today was probably the best possible day to check it out anyway.

The north side is dominated by flower gardens but you couldn’t walk among them because the area was closed off while they set up the stuff for the fireworks show, so I didn’t spend much time there although it certainly was quite beautiful. Lots of exotic flowers amidst white statues of cherubs and that sort of thing. But it was also the most heavily populated area so I wandered about and zig-zagged among the hedges, passing by this little fountain and that, observing all the old ladies sitting alone on the benches in these quiet areas, then back out to a more populated area with bigger fountains where there would be young couples on benches making out or families playing. And finally to the biggest, most impressive fountain of all in the centre of the whole place, a giant man-made geyser shooting water at least 40 feet into the air. Again, lots of young couples and families, even some Japanese tourists who for some reason always travel in large bands of 10 or more.

I wanted to find a nice place to sit down and take in the scenery so I found an unoccupied bench facing the fountain but the view of the fountain was blocked by some trees so I didn’t sit down there. But right next to it was an opening to a quiet little area completely surrounded by hedges and shrouded in the shade of the trees. I could immediately discern that this was the spot. By that I mean the spot—the best place in the park. The spot I had been looking for to sit down and take it all in. The little path led to a small circular garden with three unoccupied benches all around it. I sat on the one that gave me the nicest view of the foliage, and sat down to “eternalise the moment.”

Having just finished my lectures on Buddhism, I decided this would be the perfect time to practice my zen, which I suck at because my mind never ever shuts up and the best I can do is try to slow it down enough so that it only focuses on one thing at a time, and dwells only on the most profound and insightful thoughts it comes across. One of the first thoughts that came to me surrounded by nature in this totally landscaped environment was just how bizarre the nature of landscaping is. Humans didn’t control any of this. And although I could hear people, from where I was sitting I could only see natural things (other than the benches and path). And yet none of it would be here if it weren’t for humans. Then I realised that because this was most likely all built during the Nazi regime, it probably wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for Hitler. My grandmother having come to America because of the aftermath of WWII, I’ve known for quite some time that I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for Hitler either, so it kind of struck me pretty profoundly to think that here I was, this living being with awareness, completely surrounded by other living beings and that none of us would exist if it weren’t for the life and the actions of one particular man—a man many consider to be one of the most evil people to have ever lived. (I just looked it up and found out it wasn’t actually built by Nazis—but much earlier in 1689 which in many respects is much cooler)

After that my thoughts started drifting towards the more mundane stuff like it would be nice to share this experience with a loved one, but because everything was so beautiful and I felt so good just being out there I was able to push all that away, get deep into zen-mode and focus on just one thought. The words are not as important as the meaning, but the thought was simply this: what I desire and don’t have I can do without, but what I have is more than I desire. Which is basically in the same vain as the thought that has occurred to me before: despair is to focus on what you can’t or don’t have, and to lose focus on what you do have just by virtue of being alive.

Anyway, I eternalised that moment, let the now surround me, felt the undeniable all-other-bullshit-aside beauty of that one particular instant in time, and then with a deep breath let it go. I got up, walked around a little more, then left the park and walked home. And then I wrote about it.

I guess if any of this has any point at all, it’s that seizing the day is good and everything, but all you really need to be able to do is seize the moment. When my life is flashing before my eyes while I’m dying, that’s going to be one of the moments I see. I have many moments like that. And in the end that’s what life is all about. So all the bullshit and loneliness and depression and sickness and financial woes aside, I think I’m waaaay ahead of the game as far as beautiful, worthwhile moments go. And I’ve never needed anybody else to share them with.

In that entire park filled with all those people, the one place I gravitated to, the place I knew instinctively to be the place where I would stop and absorb my surroundings, was the one place in the entire park from where no other people could be seen.

More Angst

September 24th, 2008 No comments

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

The fear that I might have to just fly home for lack of the ability to afford the cost of living over here managed to seep into one of my many dreams last night. I was driving back to the Glen Gardner home, I almost pulled into Domino’s to talk about getting some hours but I nearly hit a car pulling out of the parking lot so I just went all the way home. Everything was shifted around so I had no room of my own anymore. I kept wondering what the fuck I was doing there, why I had just given up and come home. I knew I hadn’t exhausted all of my options so what the fuck was I doing back there?

Anyway, the dream goes on but it’s not important. I just now got a call from my mother and she told me again to get another job to support myself. I tried to explain to her that employers are not exactly going to be tripping over themselves to hire someone with a first-grade speaking ability in German, and that if I did work anywhere here where I had to speak German exclusively I would be constantly struggling to communicate, customers would ask me questions all the time and I would have no idea what they were saying and it would just not be good. She said that I wouldn’t have to know much German to bus tables, and I said I would rather give up and live on the street than bus tables but she still doesn’t quite get that.

But basically, she just told me everything I’m already thinking. I should ask Inlingua what the fucking deal is because they told me I’d be getting a minimum of 80 lessons per month and I haven’t even gotten half that so what the fuck? And I should look for another apartment and other jobs and so on but above all not give up because the worst thing I could do would be to come home again and deliver pizza. Thanks, Mom. I hadn’t thought of that…

Anyway, I’d be much more motivated to get out and go apply for jobs all over town and whatnot IF I WASN’T FUCKING SICK ALL THE TIME, so that’s another thing.

Oh, and of course she asked me if I had been meeting people so I told her about exchanging my number with one of my students and she jumped on that and told me to call her, call her, don’t wait, just call her myself. I tried to explain it was just a matter of politeness, I’m not interested in her and I don’t really care if I never see her again, but she said that didn’t matter because maybe she knows someone who knows someone who would think I’m the greatest person in the world. I don’t know, maybe she has a point but I really don’t feel like calling her.

I really don’t feel like doing anything right now. I’m sick. It’s cold. I slept for 9 hours last night and I’m still tired as hell. I’m depressed. I’m angry. I just wish I was dying so I wouldn’t have to think about where the fuck my life is going.

Categories: Personal Tags: , , ,

Looming Financial Peril

September 23rd, 2008 No comments

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

Well, I will almost definitely NOT be going to Ichenheim this weekend, not because I don’t want to but because I can’t afford it. I just checked the prices for train tickets and the normal fare there and back is 198 Euros. They have super-saver rates starting at 58 Euros for the whole trip, but of course there are none of those available. The only savings rate available is 158 Euros, which is still ridiculously expensive. I wrote to Myriam, the one who can speak English, and told her the bad news. Unless I get a response saying, “Oh don’t worry, we have plenty of money. We’ll pay 100 Euros for the trip so you only have to pay 58 and then you can come” then I won’t be going. The thing is, they’re really nice people so they just might make me an offer like that. When I visited them from Frankfurt and normal fare was only about 58 Euros, they gave me 50 Euros just out of kindness to cover the trip. So the idea that they would offer me money in advance to help cover the cost is not completely out of the question. I just feel shitty accepting charity from anybody, especially really nice people whose food I will be eating and beer I will be drinking the entire time I’m there.

I feel pretty shitty about the whole thing already. Just thinking about my financial situation…it’s pretty bad. I had that interview with the Volkshochschule yesterday and it turns out I missed the big fall-semester recruitment push by several weeks. They’re completely staffed for the next few months, so I can’t expect much. What they will do is let me sit in on a few classes just to see how it’s done, then let me substitute for any teachers who are sick. Another possibility is that they’ll refer individuals looking for private lessons to me, because they’re not supposed to give private lessons (it’s a state-run public service thing, unlike the corporate Inlingua) so they hand them off to some of their freelancers. The best possibility is that one of their teachers gets a better job or becomes pregnant or seriously ill or something that would prevent them from serving out the term, in which case I might get an actual job. But of course I really wouldn’t count on anything like that.

As for Inlingua they’re a bunch of lying bastards. They said they could guarantee me 80 lessons per month at the beginning. It’s almost the end of the month and so far I’m up to 32 (over half of which came from just last week). Ms. Weiß seems to have disappeared, and unless she shows up again I won’t have any more lessons at all for the rest of the month, but even if she does it’ll only be 36. That’s less than the cost of rent alone, and I’ve been spending roughly 40 Euros a week on top of that. I feel like the U.S. economy, sitting on a bubble that’s going to burst sooner or later. Even if my parents continue to give me the financial life-support I’ve needed so far, that’s not going to last forever. Once again the possibility of having to return to America in shame looms over my head. And I won’t even have approached the 100 hours minimum experience that most real fucking language schools are looking for. Meanwhile I’ve got to refrain from doing anything extraneous with my money like visiting my family who are half of the reason I came back to this country in the first place.

It pisses me off is all I’m trying to say. I’m the most to blame obviously. I just rushed into this without much thought or planning at all, hoping it would all just fall into place. It’s looking more and more each week like that’s not gonna happen, that this is going to end with a premature flight home and thousands of dollars of my parents’ money gone with almost nothing to show for it.

To Bother

September 22nd, 2008 No comments

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

I suppose in most cases it’s best not to over-think things. I just finished my last lesson with Victoria (a.k.a. Ms. Läer) and while we were walking out of the building everything just came quite naturally out of my mouth. “Do you ever hang out in Hannover? Do you have friends here that you come and see?” Yes, sometimes, but most of her friends are in the town where she lives. “I’ve only been living here a month and I haven’t made any friends yet. Maybe if you’re coming to town sometime you can send me an e-mail.” Sure, do I have your phone number? Let me take it down. Okay, is this how you spell your name? Your phone should be ringing. Okay, it works. “Great. Well, if you’re ever in town…” “…I’ll give you a call.” “Great.” Bye. “Bye.”

So damn simple. No nerves, no pressure, no awkwardness. And now I’ve done my part. We parted ways on polite and friendly terms, and it’s completely up to her if she ever wants to hang out with me or not. Maybe I’ll get a call from her soon. Maybe I’ll never hear from her again. Frankly, I don’t really care all that much. It would be nice if she DOES call, because that will mean that she liked me which is good for my ego. And it will give me a chance to finally go out and socialise and perhaps meet new people, but with the safe feeling of having somebody I’m already acquainted with nearby.

Mr. Dörge is going to India this week, and Ms. Weiß has stood me up for our last two lessons. I’m supposed to have another one with her today, but I’ll call Frau Giesecke when she gets in to confirm it, because I’m not going to go unless we’re absolutely sure she’s coming. Before that I have an interview with the British guy from VHS, but regardless of how that goes I don’t expect to start getting lessons from them this week. So even assuming Ms. Weiß does show up for her lessons today and Thursday, I’ve got nothing else to do. In total contrast to last week, I will once again be on non-paid vacation, my bank account slowly draining away.

This weekend I might go visit my family in Ichenheim, which will plug up that drain for a little bit. They always reimbursed me for the train in the past so I expect they’ll do so this time as well. And food and beer are free, so that’s a big help too.

The only thing is that I’m still fucking sick or whatever it is, and I don’t feel like doing anything, least of all spending the weekend with my German family and trying to pull whatever German I can out of my muddled and tired and cloudy mind. The odds of this being gone by the weekend are about fifty-fifty, but I’ll probably have to make a decision before then. And I’ll probably decide to go, if only for the human-contact aspect of it.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

To Bother or Not To Bother

September 21st, 2008 No comments

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

Friday was supposed to be my last lesson with Ms. Läer, with one in the morning and one in the afternoon, but because she couldn’t make it in the afternoon we rescheduled for Monday. So tomorrow if I want to, I have to ask to hang out with her some time. Asking wouldn’t be a problem at all. If I decide not to, it won’t be from fear, but from my own lack of interest. She’s nice. She laughs at my jokes. And that’s about as far as it goes. Over the course of our lessons I occasionally dropped in a few philosophical concepts (if a word she was learning applied) or mentioned something about politics, the two things I actually enjoy talking about, but she never responded with much interest. She did say that she doesn’t follow the news, which in itself is not a bad thing but as far as friendship-compatibility goes, you’ve got to have at least a few topics of conversation that both people are comfortable with. And I just can’t think of anything we could actually talk about.

Of course most of our time is spent talking about the English language, so I really have no idea what her actual interests are. But from where I’m sitting she just seems like your average, completely un-extraordinary twenty-something German girl. She’s majoring in economics and brushing up on her English because it’s a useful skill in the business-world. She’s lived in the same 30 km radius her entire life and her future is as predictable as a swim-competition involving Michael Phelps: she’ll get a job at some business, get married, have kids, and live a completely average, un-extraordinary life. She’ll be a good person and have a good family and a good life but she’ll never have anything interesting to say.

So should I ask her if I want to hang out with her? I probably should, if only for the sake of actually doing something sometime, but I just don’t see us really enjoying each others’ company that much. When I try to imagine it, there’s just a lot of dead, awkward silence. Worth it? I don’t know.

It probably is. I should probably just go ahead and do it because I really have nothing to lose at all, except that if it doesn’t work out I’ll have this to refer back to as a perfect excuse to not try and look for friends for the next few weeks or months.

Categories: Personal Tags: ,

Persistent Sickness

September 18th, 2008 No comments

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

Yesterday was my busiest day of work so far, with a combined total of 6.5 hours of lessons. Three days in a row of having to get up at 7:45 were beginning to take their toll by the time I started Ms. Läer’s afternoon lesson, but I got a little reprieve when the British guy from VHS called me during that lesson and said he was really busy and could we reschedule for Monday? So I was able to take a little nap before my lesson with Dörge at 5:45. Also, half-way through the day I began to feel sick again. That same, extra-tired, throat-hurty feeling of sickness that seems to come around every two weeks and can last about two weeks so now it’s like I’m sick literally half the time. God, I hope I’m dying. I got my application for medical insurance yesterday so maybe soon I’ll be able to go to a German doctor and they can tell me what’s wrong with me in words I won’t understand.

In spite of the oncoming “sick”ness I drank beer last night anyway because I’ve been waiting patiently for the last three days to do it and it’s quite obvious that there’s no correlation whatsoever between alcohol and whatever this is. The first time this sickness thing happened while in Germany also came after a three-day period of not-drinking. And when that happened I abstained from drinking until I lost my patience with this never-ending sickness and learned that alcohol doesn’t aggravate the problem anyway.

I had been expecting to watch PULSE in honour of Rick Wright but I just wasn’t (and haven’t been) in any sort of Pink Floyd-compatible mood. I did listen to it yesterday and I did enjoy it but nowhere near the deep level I do when I’m really in the mood. Last night I only listened to “Wearing the Inside Out” and “Echoes” from the Dave Gilmour DVD, some of his last performances. And I enjoyed them, and they got me in the right frame of mind for some more due appreciation of Wright’s contribution to the world of music, but it was not any kind of deep or profound experience.

All I have to do today is go to one lesson with Ms. Weiß at 5:00, but there are a couple of other little things I can also take care of. I feel quite shitty, both from the beer from last night (which will wear off by the afternoon) and the return of the sickness, which in itself is not so bad except for the fact that I know this is just the beginning of another two-week stretch of feeling tired and shitty all the time for no apparent reason. I mean, I go jogging multiple times a week to stay healthy, and this is what happens? It’s really not fair. I want my fucking money back.

R.I.Pink Floyd

September 16th, 2008 No comments

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

Richard Wright, Pink Floyd’s keyboardist and possibly my third-favourite musician of all time, is dead. I’m not as sad as I had imagined I might be when a Pink Floyd member (excluding Syd Barret) finally died. I mean, I didn’t know the guy personally. I love his music, but it’s not like that’s dead. He was 65 and he died of cancer after living what most would consider a charmed life. I’m sure he suffered a lot—no one can write such beautiful music without understanding pain—but not especially more than the rest of us. His wife struggled with depression, which is what inspired most of Broken China, and he struggled with cancer, but he had fame, fortune, and millions of adoring fans, even if most of them didn’t even know his name. He was able to bring an incredible amount of beauty into the world. So many people have been deeply moved by “The Great Gig In The Sky”, “Us And Them”, and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” that it’s impossible to think of his life as anything more than a huge success. Even when humanity has perished from the universe, Dark Side of the Moon will continue to exist as data in the Voyager spacecraft, always with the potential to be played and heard again should some intelligent civilisation ever come across it.

Anyway, I’m sure tonight I’ll set up a playlist of every Rick Wright contribution to Pink Floyd as well as the best of his two solo albums and pay him a proper mental tribute, but it’s not going to affect my day or my disposition in any major way. This morning I had another lesson with Ms. Laeer which went very well. There was a lot of breaking from the actual lesson and just talking, and we seem to get along quite well. I can make her laugh pretty easily, which is good. While thinking of a sentence for the word “rely” she said, “If I ever need help, I can always rely on my husband…not that I have a husband” so that confirms she isn’t married at least. I think chances are looking better that this might have the potential to turn into at least a casual friendship once the week is over.

That Elusive Döse-Öffner

September 15th, 2008 No comments

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

Want to know the main difference between Germany and the United States? The other day I bought a can of food from a grocery store, and realised when I got back to my apartment that I had no way of opening it. Today on my way home from work I stopped into seven—that’s right, seven—different shops and not one of them sold can-openers. Grocery stores, drug stores, even stores that sold cookware. “Nein, haben wir nicht.” What the fucking fuck? You sell cans! How does anyone open their fucking cans in this country?

Meanwhile, in the United States you can walk into just about any store, drug store, grocery store, probably even a goddamn book store or magazine stand, and they’ll have a whole section with a wide variety of can-openers of any shape, size, color, or price you want. You don’t even have to GO anywhere! Just walk out on the street and in just a few minutes the can-opener salesman will be coming by with his merchandise! Fuck, just open a box of cereal and there will be a free can-opener inside!

Anyway, now I’m a flag-waving republican. The U.S. is the best country in the world and every other country can go fuck itself. We’ve got can-openers, goddammit and even if we have to bomb the shit out of you by God you’ll soon be selling can-openers on every street-corner too! We’re gonna open up a big ol’ can of DEMOCRACY on your ass!

That aside, I had my first lesson with Ms. Laeer today (another version of the spelling of her name I saw) and as expected she was nice but not that beautiful. Like most Germans, she had a good body but a face with a bit to be desired. I mean, she was definitely what most people would consider very attractive, but I’m extremely picky when it comes to faces and hers, like that of most Germans, just didn’t fit my own particular aesthetic preferences. But her English was great, so as to the possibility of hanging out with her outside of the school-environment, it’s still POSSIBLE but unfortunately unlikely to be much help to me because she lives in a town 30 km away. She comes to Hannover every day for school, but it doesn’t seem likely that she participates a great deal in the night-life around here. But it’s still worth a shot, so on Friday I’ll ask her if she does hang out in Hannover and if she does can I maybe tag along sometime. Totally non-threatening and if she has no interest in getting to know me she has the easy out of saying she doesn’t spend much time in town. And I won’t be utterly crushed or all that disappointed because I’m not attracted to her.

Tonight I have another lesson with Ms. Weiß, which by this point will just be business as usual….scratch that. Just now Frau Giesecke called and Ms. Weiß apparently can’t make it today. She wanted to reschedule for Wednesday but I definitely can’t because I’m actually completely booked. I have Ms. Laeer from 8:50 a.m. to 3 p.m. (with a 1-hour break), an appointment with the British dude from VHS at 3:30, and then Mr. Dörge from 5:45 to 7:15. That’ll be a fun day. Tomorrow I’ve just got Laeer in the morning. Thursday I’ve just got Weiß in the evening from 5 to 6:30. Friday I’ve got Laeer all day again from 8:50 to 3:00. And on Saturday I’ve got Dörge from 11:00 to 12:30, and as of twenty seconds ago, Ms. Weiß from 12:30 to 2:00. Holy shit, it’s like I’m some sort of actual grown-up who actually has a job!

Now if I could just find a can-opener…