[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]
My sickness is worse than usual this time. I’m even too tired to look for a doctor. Well, that’s just laziness on my part but I did do a quick internet search and found that there’s no quick, easy, click-here-for-a-list-of-english-speaking-doctors-in-your-area website or anything. I’ll have to call doctor’s offices and ask the almost certainly non-english speaking receptionists if the doctor speaks English and if I can make an appointment. Of course, I don’t really have any time next week to make a doctor’s appointment anyway, and it’s a little too late to set one up for tomorrow (my laziness-justifying assumption) so I’m just going to try to ride this one out like the last 76 times and hope that it’ll be gone by Monday when I have to start travelling all around Hannover and teaching multiple lessons a day for two weeks.
Yesterday I went back to Planeo to sign some contracts and get more information about these lessons. When I got there, the ladies in the office (the woman who interviewed me wasn’t there) hadn’t prepared the things at all even though I called hours earlier to let them know when I was coming, so I had to sit and do nothing for awhile. But while I waited, Frank came to tell me that unlike the normal payment method in which I’d hand in my papers at the end of the month and receive money by the end of the following month, he was going to expedite the process by paying me as soon as the papers were in because of my current tenuous financial situation. Needless to say, I was extremely grateful and I remain quite in awe of his understanding and helpfulness (not very characteristic of the German businessman).
He also said he might have a few lessons for me to teach full-time after my substituting is done. He asked me how familiar I am with legal terms, and I said I had a very basic knowledge (a couple of years of mock-trial, and many years spent watching lawyer-shows will give anyone a familiarity with the basic vocabulary). He gave me the English-for-lawyers textbook and said to look through it and see if I’d be comfortable giving one-on-one lessons to a “very attractive” lawyer woman. I read through them and I still haven’t decided yet. I said I knew about 80% of the terms in the book, but I’d still need to study a lot on my own to get ahead. He gave me the number of her former tutor and said to call him and find out how demanding she might be as to the knowledge of her instructor (she’s only paying for a basic instructor anyway—it would cost her a lot more to learn from an actual legal professional). I called the guy and left a message but he hasn’t called me back.
The ladies finally finished making those sheets for me, then they came to try to explain everything, which was very difficult for them because their English wasn’t great. But we muddled through and I took home the contracts which are in German because I couldn’t pretend to understand everything just by skimming it, and they gave me a list of my lessons and the names and addresses of the businesses, and said they’d e-mail me directions for how to get to them. I could accompany one of their teachers, an Australian woman named Amanda, to one of her lessons the next day (today) just to see how they do things.
Knowing that I always get lost when I go to new places, and not wanting to be late for the lesson the next morning, I reluctantly decided to spend that afternoon before my lesson at Inlingua practicing getting to the place. I checked the internet and saw that the place was about 8 miles away so I probably shouldn’t walk there. I went and bought a tram ticket and for the first time since I’ve been in Hannover I used the public transportation. The tram was 2.70, ridiculously expensive, and I didn’t even realise until today that I’d only bought a one-way ticket and it had been illegal for me to use the same ticket on my return journey. But nobody checked the tickets so I lucked out.
Anyway, the thing about public transportation is that you’re stuck in a little box with a bunch of other people for an extended period of time. It’s never an extremely long period of time. Just enough to fall madly in love with the most beautiful woman/girl in sight, and then watch her walk away out of your life forever. I didn’t fall in love on the initial tram ride, but I had to get off and take the bus for the next part of the journey, and I fell madly in love on the bus ride before having to get off and let her ride far far away.
The directions I’d received from the company only got me to the bus stop closest to the building. I had only my memory of the google map to get me from there to the building and that memory didn’t turn out to be so good. I asked a couple of people where Max-von-Laue Strasse was, but nobody knew. I finally gave up and called Planeo, and not without some difficulty they were able to walk me to the right street and after handing the phone to Amanda, the woman who I would be meeting for the lesson today, I finally found the right building.
As I was walking back towards the bus-stop, this unbelievably beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous Asian chick walked right up to me holding a piece of paper in her hand, and in broken German asked me, “Excuse me, if I turn right here, will I get to Max-von-Laue Strasse?” The irony struck me instantly and a million thoughts of fate and destiny burst through my mind as I just said, “Ja” very enthusiastically and then started to try to explain in my own broken German how I had just spent the last half-hour looking for the same street, but I didn’t get very far into it at all, as she just said “Danke schön” and walked away from me in mid-broken-sentence. I was just too excited. I would have had a better chance if I’d gone on in English.
Anyway, fast-forward to this morning, when I got up and made it back to the business-place with near perfect timing, only falling in love once with a girl on the bus who sat facing me, and whom I stared at nearly the entire time because I don’t think she noticed. I waited in front of the building for awhile, then went inside to ask the receptionists about the woman who teaches lessons and maybe she got here already and what-not, and they didn’t seem to know what I was talking about, but Amanda came while I was there and brought me to a different building where the lesson was being held. The business, by the way, was an energy company called E.ON.
I introduced myself as we walked to the classroom, talking about how Inlingua was the reason I was in Hannover and how they’d screwed me over. Amanda said Inlingua is evil and I should stay away from them. She’s heard stories. Apparently they fired someone because she was too fat, and then brought in another guy from Ireland who moved all the way to Germany on what little money he had, then they didn’t give him any lessons because he walked with a limp, which didn’t “project the right image”. The guy was stuck here—he couldn’t even get home. I remarked about how they would be sued if this was the U.S.A., but she said it’s a very different world here, and apparently a company can get away with firing people for being fat or disabled.
The lesson itself was actually rather fun. The group consisted of three young women, none of whom were the least bit attractive (apparently all the hotties were out riding public transportation) whose English varied from somewhat decent to pretty terrible. Amanda had centred the lesson around jokes. She told a joke, then asked if anyone else had a joke including me, but no one did. I’ve heard thousands of jokes in my life but I couldn’t think of a single one when put on the spot. Then she had them take pieces of “the funniest joke in the world” according to a web-site which allows users from around the world to rate jokes, and put them together into what we thought the joke was. Even with my help we didn’t get it. Then we read a blurb from that web-site about how different cultures in different parts of the world find different things funny and she explained all the difficult words, writing them up on the board. There were some interesting things in the blurb—apparently the British prefer jokes with a fantastic element like animals behaving like humans, and Americans and Canadians like jokes with an element of superiority where one group gets the laugh at the expense of another.
Then we were given cards with the number one joke from each country and told to read them and say them out loud in our own words. The funniest to me was Scotland’s favourite, a one-liner: “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming in panic like his passengers.” Finally we played a little game where we worked in pairs, got one of the vocabulary words on a card that we’d discussed, and tried to form a sentence one word at a time (She’d say “When”, I’d say, “someone”, she’d say “does”, etc.) while the other group had to guess what it was. And she ended the lesson by asking everyone what they planned to do on the weekend, making a big deal of the fact that she’s going to New York City for two weeks. What was I going to do? “Stay in my flat and try not to spend any money” I said. The truth.
So apparently that’s the basic idea of how these lessons are conducted. Much more informal than I’d pictured which is good, and apparently the students are all very nice. After the lesson Amanda talked to me a bit about it and it was all very reassuring. Now I’m much less intimidated about doing it myself. She also asked me a lot about myself and as so often happens when I talk about myself it turned into a somewhat philosophical conversation, which was fucking fantastic because I haven’t had anything close to a deep discussion in…I have no fucking idea. I mentioned how I write of course, and I gave her the address of my web-site because she actually seemed interested in “Synthian Truth” so maybe she’ll read it and give me some feedback.
Anyway, rather than wait a half hour for her next lesson which she said might not even happen because the students don’t always come, I came home and made it the entire way without falling in love with anyone.
I think I’ve concluded that I’m actually three different ages. While physically I’m 24, mentally I’m 34, and emotionally I’m 14. I’ve always been ten years ahead mentally, and emotionally I’ve been stuck at 14 ever since I was 14. That’s the age when you fall in love with everybody, when you’re emotions are just completely overwhelmed with desire—desire for love, desire for sex, desire for whatever—and your mood constantly fluctuates from one extreme to another to the point where you’re either blissfully praising life and all that exists in this lovely universe, or imagining with great enjoyment your own suicide. My self-imposed social-isolation is probably the biggest cause of my stunted emotional growth, and the net result is that I can’t meaningfully connect with anyone my own age. The people I can connect with mentally are at least 10 years older than me and I don’t desire them. The people I can connect with emotionally are 10 years younger than me and that’s illegal and immoral and wrong and evil and bad. Yippee.
I spent the afternoon getting my mind on much less important things by absorbing myself in political blogs off the internet. Following this presidential election has become such a disproportionately large part of my life that it’s finally seeped into my subconscious, and Barack Obama has started appearing in my dreams recently. I’m always either following his campaign or one of his advisors or something. Last night he was at a fundraiser with some asshole kid who gave him a few dollars and gave John McCain five billion dollars, and Obama made a snide remark and left, which the press made a huge deal out of and basically saying his campaign was over. I was telling him not to give up, that that kid was an asshole bully and the people would be behind him, that if anything he should get really mad at the kid and show some anger. Then he went and beat the crap out of the kid, and I knew then it was really over.
I had an even more interesting dream before that though. I was driving back from California with Corey and we stopped in Texas for some event, the nature of which I forget (perhaps an Obama rally) and I was there with his family, including his father who appeared as this fat redneck guy who was ridiculously high and who didn’t even notice his son was there. And everyone was fat and unattractive and even downright repulsive, but in a way I liked it because I could finally be in a public place and not feel any desire for anyone.
I have the day off tomorrow, except I plan to go to Üstra, the company that runs public transportation and buy a card that’ll get me around for a month without having to buy a ticket every time (I found out this morning that a day-ticket is 5.10—absurd), maybe practice how to get to the places I need to go Monday (though I have all weekend to do that so it depends on how lazy I feel), and the only thing I have to do is check out another apartment in the afternoon, which will hopefully be wonderful and perfect and beyond my wildest dreams but of course it won’t be and I’ll still rather stay here. But now with this whole Planeo thing it might turn out to be the case that staying here for the time being is the smarter option, seeing as how moving out will not only require giving money to the new landlord (assuming they’re not like the current one) but also squaring up with the current landlady, and no matter how much I make from Planeo this month I won’t be able to afford all that without some parental help. If I stay here, on the other hand, I might not be asked for any money at all. The landlady might not even contact me because November 1st (the date the lease contract ends) has come and gone. As of now, the only indication I have that she remembers I exist is that occasionally someone drops my mail through the slot. It might actually be smarter financially to stay here until I can afford to pay her all the rent I owe and then move to another place.
Or maybe that’s all a bunch of bullshit and I’m just trying to think of excuses so I can stay here.