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Milestones of 2008

December 31st, 2008 No comments

It being the last day of the year, and me having nothing better to do, I think it’s a good idea to post an entry looking back at everything that’s happened. 2008 was a year full of milestones, a year in which my life situation changed more dramatically than almost any other. I’ve lived in three different places and had three different jobs, lost a few friends and gained a few more, left behind an old life and began a new one. All in all, a major turning point in the greater context of my life.

These are the dates of my journal entries that paint the full picture of the way things developed, including all milestones and major events. Feel free to click on the links to the archives and read anything you think you might find interesting.

What the Fuck am I Doing With My Life?

1/20/08- I ended the year in such a radically different life situation than I’d envisioned, as when it began I was still working at the Doubletree in Santa Barbara and taking teacher education classes, expecting to be in the exact same situation for the next two years. In this entry, I explain why I dropped out of the teacher education program and decided on a different course of action which also didn’t come to pass—returning to graduate school to pursue a career in the field of Philosophy.

2/6/2008- Although I’d already decided not to teach, I was still on the call-list for substitute teachers, and this entry recounts the first and only time I got called in to do so, which I’ll always remember as one of the most out-of-the-ordinary experiences of my life.

2/26/2008- The departure of Krissi from Santa Barbara is what sparked the later events which would totally throw my future up into the air.

2/29/2008- This was the day I got fired from my awful job at the hotel, which may not have been “planned” exactly but which I clearly did deliberately, as with no hope of getting into grad school for another year and a half, and with Krissi gone, I just couldn’t stand the idea of continuing that horrible job for such an excruciatingly long time.

3/9/2008- In this entry I’m considering another possible future, of moving down to San Diego to once again be near Krissi, an idea which didn’t last very long for various reasons, including my having long since grown tired of Southern California, as well as the unsettling nature of the idea that my life would more of a result of Krissi’s decisions than my own.

3/29/2008- The actual future finally comes into focus in this entry, when I discuss my reasons for deciding to go the route of overseas English teaching, reflect on my time in Southern California, and look to the immediate future of returning home to New Jersey to get my old pizza delivery job back while working on my certification and finding a job.

4/6/2008- A party thrown by a co-worker from the Doubletree marks the last time I saw most of the people I worked with for well over a year of my life.

4/23/2008- My final entry from Santa Barbara recounts the last time I ever saw Krissi and my thoughts regarding the wide open future ahead of me.

Transition

4/29/2008- My first entry from New Jersey briefly recounts the drive across the country and my feelings regarding the new, albeit temporary life situation.

5/19/2008- This is my longest journal entry of the year, and also probably my favourite. This is the detailed account of the sailing trip I was able to go on with my dad, his brother, and a few of their friends for a week in Antigua, which in spite of all of the other awesome experiences I had might just be the highlight of the year.

7/5/2008- Following a slew of introspective entries regarding my sexual frustrations is this one which actually describes some real events that happened during this period, including a canoe trip down the Delaware and the only time in my entire pizza-delivery career that I was invited into someone’s house for a beer.

7/28/2008- This is a dense entry that includes a revelation regarding my sexual peculiarity as well as a few little events such as my last visit to my grandparent’s house in Upstate New York and a drinking party that my little brother’s friends threw at our house while our parents were away. This also marks the first time that Hannover, where the year would eventually take me, is mentioned.

8/12/2008- My final entry from New Jersey provides a detailed account of the trip I took with my family to Niagara Falls.

Hannover

16.08.2008- This entry recalls what can only be called the biggest milestone of the year, my arrival in Hannover and the very beginning of the craziness that would become my struggle to get myself situated in this new life.

18.08.2008- My hilarious misadventure to Berlin over my lost passport that wasn’t really lost is recalled here, as well as a brief account at the beginning of my first meeting with my landlady in which she didn’t ask me for any money which would lead to some dramatic happenings a few months later.

19.08.2008- Not really a milestone but a great entry nonetheless, describing what happened when I realised that my lost passport hadn’t been lost and I’d gone through the entire Berlin fiasco for nothing.

25.08.2008- This is also nothing major, but it does recount the Method Training for Inlingua, the only actual “training” I would ever really have for teaching English before I started doing it.

30.08.2008- I suppose my first real adventurous walk through Hannover is somewhat of a milestone, as this entry about my walk to the Stadthalle, through the Eilenriede, and around a street festival indicates.

31.08.2008- My second adventure through Hannover was somewhat less enjoyable than the first though also a milestone, as my non-encounter with a beautiful girl on a bike during my walk around the Maschsee continues to stick in my mind as the quintessential example of a missed opportunity due to my being a pussy.

02.09.2008- This entry is another true milestone, recounting my first actual English lesson, although it was with a student who I’d only have four actual lessons with before she seemed to drop off the face of the earth.

12.09.2008- My first lesson with Mr. Dörge, thus far my longest-lasting student, is recalled here as well as the first time I got serious about looking for work outside of Inlingua.

15.09.2008- This is not a milestone at all but I just like this entry. Why is it so fucking hard to find a can-opener in Germany?

27.09.2008- Also not a milestone, but a very nice account of my first walk through the Großer Garten is in this entry.

07.10.2008- A true milestone is recounted here, as I was interviewed by Frank for a position at Planeo, the language school that basically saved my ass and provided me with enough work to earn enough financial security to remain in Hannover and not end the year by returning to New Jersey in defeat.

09.10.2008- A hell of a lot of events are squeezed into this one entry, the most significant being the first time I met Amanda during which I sat in on one of her classes, which was also my first taste of what it was like to conduct an actual business-English lesson.

13.10.2008- The first of two entries that could be said to constitute the “climax” of the year as the sudden reappearance of my landlady and demand for way more money than I had on what just happened to be the first day of a two-week torrent of substitution lessons for Planeo was a prelude to the high drama of the following day.

14.10.2008- This may just be the entry of the year, which recounts both my first actual business English lessons ever as well as the heart-pounding, mad-dash-to-the-finish-line struggle with the banks that could have plunged the entire year into disaster but ended up allowing me to squeak by and continue living in Hannover for at least another month.

17.10.2008- A detailed recollection of my first week of business English lessons is given here, which includes such milestones as my first lesson in Helmstedt as well as the first time I tried to actually make a friend, although nothing came of that particular try.

24.10.2008- The only actual milestone in this entry recalling my second week of business English lessons is my first meeting with Alan that occurred right at the end of the week, and our resolve to go to a Tuesday night Quiz Night thingy which didn’t actually happen until a couple of weeks later.

04.11.2008- Quite a big day in the history of my life, as well as the world. Not only was this the day that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, but it was also the day where I officially found out for certain that I’d be getting the money I needed to remain in Hannover indefinitely. Finally, the biggest milestone of all is the first real socialisation I had in Germany, at Quiz Night with Amanda and Alan.

05.11.2008- Barack Obama! Yes we can!

15.11.2008- Not a big deal, but the first time I had my class with the apprentices in Helmstedt.

19.11.2008- The deep reflective entry on the big 10-year anniversary of the most significant date in my life, the day I met Aimee.

24.11.2008- Also not a milestone at all, but my second walk through the Großer Garten on the morning after a snowfall was definitely an experience worth remembering.

30.11.2008- Here’s a good one. This entry is the account of Amanda’s crazy flat-warming party, which is quite possibly the most unbridled, rip-roaring fun I’ve had all year. Jesus loves vodka!

06.12.2008- This is another great entry describing the Planeo Christmas party, including the go-kart-racing madness, the brief appearance and disappearance of the wunderschöne Petra, and more drunken fun with Alan and Amanda.

15.12.2008- I decided to post my journal entries online.

Kemstone’s Online Journal

17.12.2008- This is the first entry I wrote after Corey decided to end our friendship after reading from the online journal archives, and it also mentions what would be the last time hanging out and drinking with Alan and Amanda of the year.

23.12.2008- My last entry from Hannover recounts my last lessons of the year, my decision to leave my apartment, and more thoughts regarding the ongoing (possibly forever) Corey situation.

24.12.2008- My first entry from what has become the Final Destination for the year, the house of my German relatives in Ichenheim, describes the night and the possibility of moving to Freiburg, an idea I’m currently leaning away from.

31.12.2008- The year comes to an end. Goodbye, 2008. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Dark Cloud Still Lingering

December 29th, 2008 No comments

Nothing too interesting has happened in the past couple of days. Saturday was completely eventless, mostly spent loafing around, finishing reading my journals from the year, and some very light drinking at night. Yesterday, a couple of old women related to Ursula came by for another gigantic lunch, the afternoon was spent loafing around, and at night the six of us (me and the Pfeiffers and Neumanns) drank beer and played Phase 10, my favourite card game which they introduced me to four years ago.

Right now I’m the only one here while the rest of them are going to a funeral for a guy in town who died on Christmas Eve at the age of 46 of lung cancer. He wasn’t particularly close to the family at all, but I guess in small towns just about everyone gathers for funerals. A bit later we’re all taking a drive to Europa Park for the Weihnachtsfest which should be nice.

I’ve been having a particularly hard time sleeping this past week. I only had one unbroken night of rest which was Christmas Eve, but the rest of the time I’ve been waking up around 5 a.m. and tossing and turning for at least 3 hours until the others wake up and I can hear them walking around right upstairs, which makes my subsequent 5-10 minutes of sleep at a time that much harder. I don’t know what my problem is but I think I just have an over-active brain. As soon as I wake up and the brain has five minutes to return to full consciousness, it starts thinking about things and refuses to shut up. It’s not like I only have this problem in Ichenheim. Sleep has always been difficult for me and sometimes even sleeping pills don’t even do the job.

One thing that’s been constantly weighing on my mind is this bullshit that’s happening (or rather non happening) between me and Corey. I haven’t written much about it here because I feel like if he reads this journal it would just make things worse, but it’s the kind of thing I would normally write about to try and make my thoughts about it clearer to myself. I considered writing about it but not posting it online, but I figured that would set a bad precedent of only including stuff that I want other people to see, thus making my online persona another mask and totally defeat the purpose of putting all my open and honest thoughts online for all to read. Of course, I haven’t even really told anyone about this journal other than Corey, Loren, and Krissi, so you could say it’s kind of pointless already. It’s not something I’d want most people I meet to read, let alone anyone at all from my family. So who am I really kidding by acting like publishing my journal entries online means I’m living more openly and honestly? Doing this only makes it possible for people to find out things about me that I’d probably rather they not know. Perhaps I should just take it all the fuck down. What do you think, readers? Post your answers in the comments! Right…I don’t have any readers!

Anyway, regarding Corey the whole thing makes me feel like shit. I feel like I SHOULD be feeling guilty but I just don’t see what I’m supposed to feel guilty about. My only real transgression was under-appreciating his friendship, but that would make ours one of at least 12 billion friendships on this planet that go underappreciated by one of the participants from time to time. I think he’s also upset that a few of the things I wrote seemed to indicate that I don’t really understand him, but it’s not like he’s incapable of explaining and trying to HELP me understand. And if there is some other problem he has, such as my even mentioning this stuff or putting my journals online thus allowing other people to read it and get my skewed perspective on him, he’s also perfectly capable of telling me this himself, and if it really bothered him a lot I would totally consider taking them down. Fuck knows that this is not really accomplishing anything anyway. So far the only result has been the possible destruction of one of my deepest, longest-lasting friendships.

But I can’t help but be angry at him for being angry at me and just not even talking to me about it. Like he’s just decided that nothing needs to be said—the friendship is over—done deal. I understand why he would be angry at me or offended by the absence of appreciative remarks in my journal, and even why he might need some time to just brood over it, but it’s still sucks ass that he won’t even say a word to me. He won’t even tell me, “Dude, I just need some time to sort things out in my head.” All I got was an angry “I’m offended” e-mail and then a complete break in communication. Leaving me to just feel like an asshole for an unspecified period of time that for all I know could be forever. But if he really has decided already in his mind to end our friendship forever, I think eight years at least warrants some kind of declaration, some written words like “Fuck you, we’re done” or SOMETHING.

A few philosophers including Jean-Paul Sartre promote the idea that emotions are not as uncontrollable as they seem, and that we in fact adopt them as “strategies” for dealing with life. When somebody does something to offend us, we deliberately choose to get angry so that the other person will respond differently in the future. I don’t know how much I buy into that theory—personally I hate the idea that I’m completely responsible for the way I feel about things, particularly vis-à-vis love—but if it’s true it means that Corey has CHOSEN to get angry at me over this when in fact he could have decided not to let it bother him very much at all. And then I’ve CHOSEN to respond to his anger with anger of my own when I could instead pick compassion or at least some measure of guilt. Guilt is a strategy we adopt to punish ourselves for things we believe we did wrong. I guess I’m perfectly willing to feel guilty over this, but again I just don’t see what I did wrong. From my perspective everything was just fine between us until all of a sudden he dug something up, some mouldy old thoughts I wrote down almost a year ago, and decided to get so offended that he wouldn’t even do me the courtesy of talking to me about it. That makes me angry.

I’m sick of writing about this, I’m sick of thinking about it, and I’m sick of waking up in the middle of the night and pondering it for hours. But the longer this silent period lasts the more it will weigh on me, and the angrier I will get at him for putting me through this psychological turmoil without even bothering to explain to me why it’s all my fault. It may be true that it is. And if so I’d be more than willing to accept responsibility and apologise. I’d like nothing more than to apologise to him and be done with it. But until someone can tell me what I’m apologising for, all I can do is stay angry.

Wine, Food, Family, and Wine

December 27th, 2008 No comments

I must have drunk a total of at least two bottles of wine to myself yesterday when you add up all the glasses I had. The entire day, from lunch until late into the night, was another big family gathering, and just as I’d predicted my mood shot up and down three or four times through the course of what can only be called a pretty enjoyable day overall.

As is the custom in Germany if not nearly all of Western Europe, lunch is the biggest meal of the day, and yesterday’s lunch was the biggest of all we’ve had so far. Ralf’s parents and Gerlinda and Hans came and we had a meal of two geese, mashed potatoes, red kraut (Frederic joked about how they were also krauts) and some other things too. All of it was fucking delicious of course. Before the meal, while I was still in bit of a haze from last night’s drinking having just woken up only slightly more than an hour beforehand, they handed out glasses of Sekt, which is like champagne only it actually tastes good. I hesitated before remembering the best thing to do in these situations was always to just fucking go with it, and I took it and after two glasses I was already feeling nice and buzzed, better able to appreciate the “gemütlich” atmosphere, which is a word that has no direct English translation but basically means “warm fuzzy feeling you get from food, drink, and friends”.

After the meal, as we were all just sitting around drinking wine and talking, the subject of family history came up and I figured now was a perfect opportunity to learn the answers to some questions I’ve been meaning to ask forever. How old is Ichenheim? Apparently nobody knows for sure but the first documents date back to about 1200. Who was the first Fäßler (my grandmother’s family name) in Ichenheim? Gerlinda brought out a book that traced the family lineage of everyone in Ichenheim, like something out of the appendix of Lord of the Rings only with real people instead of imaginary. For instance, there’s an entry for Emil Fäßler, my great-grandfather, his date of birth and death, his wife, and the names and birthdates of each of his thirteen children ending with my grandmother. Apparently her grandfather Anselm built the house that she grew up in, which is still standing and which I’ve been to. And it was her great-grandfather, Johann Michael Faßler, who first came to Ichenheim around the year 1746. I also learned I’ve got relatives who’ve died in just about every war Germany has been involved in including the Napoleonic wars. Fucking fascinating stuff.

Shortly after that discussion a few of us went out for a little walk through the village where I was shown a few things of interest involving the farming that still goes on, and we also went back to the cemetery where Gerlinda pointed out the war memorial on the cemetery wall with the names of every dead or missing soldier from Ichenheim in every war, including my great uncle Franz Fäßler who died fighting for Hitler in WWII. It’s so damn cool to have a family history.

After the walk we came back for Kaffee und Küchen, and I was shocked to find that I apparently still had room enough in my stomach to fill with some delicious black forest cake. There were another few hours of wine and conversation, then shortly after sunset all the guests shuffled out leaving only the Pfeiffers and the Neumanns, excluding Ralf who had a cold but popped into the dining room from time to time.

When the night was no longer young and I had crossed that fine line between buzzed and drunk (the point at which I no longer notice I’m speaking German and I somehow understand everything that’s said) someone mentioned something about how tomorrow (now today) was the birthday of some woman they know, and I blurted out the fact that it was also the birthday of my first love. Today is indeed Aimee’s birthday, but I’d forgotten she was my second love and not the first. Anyway, they said I should call her, an idea which I heartily laughed at.

The conversation then became about girls and why don’t I go ahead and get one? The same went for Frederic, who is 31 and still single, having only had one seven-year relationship in his life but whose parents, like my mother, are always on his case to find someone and give them grandchildren. Dieter is worried because Myriam doesn’t seem to be fertile at all and he wants to have some descendants to pass on the things he’s built. He said if Frederic can’t find someone then I should find someone.

Myriam pointed out how finding a German girl wasn’t really compatible with my plan of travelling the world, and I said that if I did find a German girl I’d have no problem just staying in Germany. That made Dieter all the more determined to help me find a girl. Apparently there are a lot of them in the village, and wouldn’t it be great if I married someone from the place where my roots are?

I don’t know exactly how it came up, but I think when they were asking Frederic about why he hasn’t found anyone yet he said something like “she might have been there yesterday evening” and I couldn’t help but blurt out that I’d had my eyes on someone who had been there yesterday evening (at the male voice choir) as well. And so it was that I learned all there is to know about the mystery girl from yesterday. Her name is Elena, she’s Ursula’s niece, she’s 21, and she just started living with her boyfriend Sasha who is apparently a good guy but according to Frederic “a bit of a sleeping pill”. Elena also apparently has some Fäßler blood in her, so I said I should forget about it because we were distant cousins, but they brushed that argument aside saying we were distant enough for it not to matter. Nor did it seem to matter that she has a boyfriend. They really liked the idea of me and Elena getting together. And much to my chagrin I learned that I’ll see her again on New Years’ Day when we’ll be doing something with her family. Apparently I should talk to her then. Yeah, okay. I’m so fucking good at that.

But they all agreed that she’s got a beautiful face, and Frederic even said she was one of his first loves, that normally she’d be “under his protection” but he’d “make an exception” in my case. I guess the fact that she’s ten years younger than him doesn’t matter. When he was 24 she was 14. And I thought it was so wrong and immoral and when the girl I loved was 6 years younger than me. Seriously, what the fuck? I guess it’s not as much of a taboo here for older men to be interested in much younger girls. I obviously grew up in the wrong place and time.

As for time, they at least acknowledged that it’s a lot harder to get a girl nowadays than it used to be when they were younger. Women are always looking for something more, not willing to settle for a man that they don’t perceive at first as perfect. And apparently Elena is no different. After expressing their initial enthusiasm, they acknowledged that Elena is a bit of an “airhead” and probably wouldn’t be interested in a quiet, thoughtful person like me. So it goes.

Anyway, after our eight billionth bottle of wine, it was time to go to sleep. I offered Frederic a cigarette, which he accepted even though he recently quit, and we went out to the garage and spoke for awhile in English, bonding over our mutual problem with the female sex. He’s got the additional problem of being short and bald, but we’re both too nice which is something women don’t really go for anymore. He said we’re better than most of the men who get the girls, but we’re not aggressive enough so we never get them. We have to change our behaviour, he said. I said that was true but if you change yourself too much they wouldn’t really be in a relationship with you but with a mask you wear. You have to be honest, I said, but of course not too honest, to which he expressed complete understanding and agreement.

And that was the day yesterday. I learned many interesting things about my family and this town, and confirmed that German girls are every bit as difficult as I figured. I think Dieter and Ursula are going to be trying to set me up with someone but I know nothing will come of it ultimately. Dieter said to me, “Alles ist möglich” which means “Anything is possible”, but I didn’t bother telling him my own version: “Everything is impossible” i.e. There is no hope.

Another Day and Night With My Brain

December 26th, 2008 No comments

The overall warm and fuzzy feeling of being here again has worn off, and now it’s just a more or less pleasant vacation. I’m not in a particularly good mood at the moment, but that could easily change three or four times by the end of the day. I don’t know what if anything is planned for the day, but I can always keep myself occupied no matter what.

As for yesterday, there was plenty of good food as expected, and in the evening we went out to see the annual Christmas concert of the male voice choir that Gerlinda’s husband—Hans—sings in. Before we went to the school where it was held, however, we walked around the village for awhile. We started at the cemetery where we paid our respects to Opa George, Ursula’s father whom I met at Christmas four years ago about two weeks before he died. Even then he was very sick and he was expected to die relatively soon, so I remember feeling strange that I was meeting him on what would almost certainly be his last Christmas alive. Four Christmases later and I was standing at the foot of his grave. That’s time for you.

After that we went into the church to check out a beautiful, intricate little nativity scene with at least a hundred hand-carved wooden figures made by one guy many years ago and rebuilt each year by the church. The craftsmanship was definitely something to be admired, although one couldn’t help but laugh on the inside at the absurdity of nativity scenes in general. It was all complete lies—a fantasy deliberately constructed for the sake of religious propaganda. And it was still in full effect today, as one could clearly see from the carving of baby Jesus with his bright blue eyes, flowing blonde hair, an expression of pure holiness and with his arms outstretched as if to bless every other wooden figure on the scene. Another amusing thing about it was that it was supposed to have an active waterfall, where if you put a coin in the slot the water pours for a little while into the little river carved out on the table. Dieter put one in but nothing happened, and a good deal of time was spent banging it and shaking it to try to make it work. The little baby Jesus figure did nothing to help out, and they never did get it to go. Glory be to God.

When we got out of there we still had a good deal of time before the concert began so we just walked around the village for a little while and looked at the newer, more expensive houses on what I suppose is the “rich” side of town. I learned that Ichenheim has about 3,500 residents and the population is always growing as more people move in from the cities. There may not be anything in town, but it’s close enough to a few major cities including Freiburg, Stuttgart, and Straßburg, France to be a desirable place to live for those who work in the city but prefer more peace and quiet at home.

Finally we got to the school where the choir was warming up, and it was like I’d stepped into a time warp. Everything was exactly the same as four years ago. We took chairs from downstairs and brought them to the second floor where we could look down at the choir, and as the place filled up it was clear we had the best seats in the house because the others, who weren’t lucky enough to have chairs like us, lined the whole second floor balcony thing looking down into the lobby where the choir was.

As the people were filing in, I made a sarcastic remark to Myriam about how many young people there were here. Indeed at that point 99% of the attendants were elderly, grey-haired folks, and while I kept scanning the crowd for some attractive female to distract my attention I was happy enough not to find one as I had no desire for such a distraction.

Then just before the show began, as people were filing in and saying hello to Ursula and Dieter and everyone else, I turned my head to get a look at all of them and the last one I saw was the girl I’d been looking for but hoping I wouldn’t find. This girl’s face was so beautiful it was like something manufactured by God and put on this earth just to torture me. After saying hello she lined up along the rail on the side where I could see her without even turning my head. This girl was probably about my age and there with her fucking boyfriend and either her father or his, was more than a distraction. I really couldn’t concentrate on anything else for the entire 40-minute concert, which was nothing more than pleasant-sounding Christmas songs sung by a choir of about 30 men. The only song I recognised, yet again, was “Silent Night” or rather “Stille Nacht”.

But as I said, this girl completely took all of my attention and destroyed whatever good spirit I might have had left. It wasn’t like she was perfect—she had one of those abnormally large asses typical of German girls—but her body could have been an armless and legless blob and that face would have more than made up for it. I would swear I’ve seen that face before because she looked so familiar, and since Ichenheim is so fucking small it’s no stretch of the imagination to say I have. For all I know she might have been among the seven girls there on my awful misadventure through Offenburg on that terrible night four years ago. And she kept looking in my direction too, so while she may have only been looking at any of the people around me it seemed she was looking right at me and it may have been because she thought she recognized me as well. Of course I had this whole fantasy going in my head about how we’d just fallen madly in love with each other and she was thinking about how to lose her boyfriend and come meet me after the show. Obviously that didn’t happen. Her boyfriend was literally hanging off her the whole time, which made things just that much worse. He stood right behind her the whole time with his body pressed against hers, playing with her hair, kissing her beautiful head, and whatnot. The jealousy-meter was through the roof. I tried to tell myself that since I couldn’t have her anyway it was good that she seemed to be getting the love she deserved from this guy, but that didn’t work. I wanted her to either be with me or alone forever.

The concert ended before I knew it and I watched as she and her boyfriend and dad walked away out of my life for what will hopefully be forever but who knows in this town? If I saw her on a regular basis I know without a shred of doubt that she would become the next object of my unrequited love. Luckily I don’t live here.

Anyway, the rest of the night wasn’t anything special. We came back and had some more delicious food and beer, then watched Gladiator on German television which I think is another one of those movies that’s better in another language because you’re not as focussed on the bad acting. But it’s one of those movies that gets better each time you see it anyway, as I hated it the first time due to my very high expectations and with each subsequent viewing I just appreciate it more for what it is.

And although I’ve been making a conscious effort NOT to mention my dreams so often in this journal, I simply must document the one I had last night because while all of my dreams in Ichenheim tend to be rather bizarre, this one took it to another level. I was watching the Oliver Stone film “W” (which I still haven’t seen in real life) and as is typical of movie-viewing dreams I’m in a weird state of both withdrawn observation and active participation, although the fluctuations in this dream were kind of extreme. First I’d just be watching Bush, then I’d be Bush, then I’d be another character following Bush around. But even in my state of detached observation I’d be able to affect things. For instance, I got so pissed off at Bush at one point that I just repeatedly punched him in the face, trying to get him to stop smiling in that smug “I-don’t-give-a-shit-how-many-deaths-I’m-responsible-for” manner of his. Yet whatever I did wouldn’t affect the rest of the film because it wasn’t what was “supposed” to happen.

So at one point in the dream, Bush is in his office when a screaming naked woman runs in and runs right up to him, crying and pleading for help, then collapses ass-up on his desk. A second later two young men run in and start apologizing to Bush, saying they hadn’t known she’d run into the White House or anything, but that he should get the hell out of there right now. Apparently they’d done something to her that would make her body explode, and they had done this purely for fun. Watching this scene from my detached-but-not-detached point of view I got extremely angry that these fucking assholes would do that to some poor woman just for laughs, and I lashed out with extreme violent retribution at them, not just punching them but grabbing their arms and breaking their bones and tearing their skin off with my fingernails and all sorts of horrible things I didn’t realise my brain was inclined to imagine.

But since this didn’t affect the rest of the “movie” a few scenes later those guys, very much alive and unharmed, were sentenced to death by Bush without a trial, and I was rooting for him and glad that he was willing to trample on the constitution and bring these bastards to justice. He threw them in a big prison cell first with a bunch of guys who then proceeded to violently rape them, which was quite satisfying to watch but I woke up before I could feel like sufficient justice had been done.

As for the dream’s meaning, the repressed anger element is clear, as well as what I suppose are somewhat ambiguous feelings towards Bush whom I tend to pity almost as much as I hate (he’s clearly not evil—just extremely incompetent and ignorant which are qualities that can easily bring about evil when given too much responsibility), but the element of the woman and the guys who wanted to blow her up just for fun I really don’t know. Probably just another bizarre expression of my weird sexuality whereby what turns me on is also what horrifies me the most.

Sometimes I’m glad I’ve got the brain I do, and many times I hate it and wish it wasn’t so twisted. But the one opinion I have about it that remains consistent is that it really is rather fascinating, at least to itself.

Weihnachten in Ichenheim

December 25th, 2008 No comments

Christmas went pretty much as I expected, as I remember it from four years ago. All in all it was a very nice day, beginning (for me) with a lunch at noon of delicious soup, followed by a few hours of free time during which I read from this past years’ journals and wrote e-mails to a few people, including a girl named Claudia that I met four years ago in Frankfurt and who keeps in touch with all of her past acquaintances by sending an e-mail out to all of them every Christmas. I haven’t written her back in years, but now that I’m back in Germany and I’d like to re-visit Frankfurt I feel like it’s a good idea to get back in touch. She was one of the few people I met that year with whom I could have a deep conversation. I feel bad for losing touch with her, but I don’t think she’ll hold it too much against me.

So unlike in America, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th as opposed to the 25th, which means A) presents are exchanged in the evening, and B) the big family gatherings are usually in the afternoon. As we did four years ago, we went to the house of a woman named Gerlinda and her husband whose name escapes me, and to whom I have no idea how I’m related if I even am at all. Another small family came a little later, a relatively young guy named Steffan (mid-thirties I’d guess) and his wife and young daughter, probably somewhere between 7 and 9 years old.

The last guest to arrive and the first to leave was a very old woman who seemed to despise me for some reason (perhaps she could read my thoughts) because she never addressed me directly or even looked me in the eyes. The others were all very kind, occasionally slowing down their speech to ask me a question, but she asked all of her questions about me to Dieter as though I wasn’t sitting just two seats down from her.

The gathering was for “Kaffee und Kuchen” (coffee and cake) a very typical German tradition, and since I don’t drink coffee or tea I just had cake and some grape juice with mineral water (which is awful, by the way) but the cake was fantastic so at least that was enjoyable. As for the rest of the affair, I must confess to a certain degree of boredom. With twelve people it was just a blur of German conversation, none of which I could follow to the slightest. When I actually tried to listen I could catch a word or two here and there but for the most part I didn’t even bother trying until someone broke from their village dialect and spoke in slow, High German, to ask me a question. But for the most part I was just kind of in a state of detached observation, looking at the whole affair from a more scientific, sociological perspective.

When you don’t understand what the others are saying, it’s very clear that it really doesn’t matter what they’re saying. The tone and mannerisms said everything, and the whole atmosphere was exactly what you’d expect when you picture a typical small-town German family gathering. What was said is really beside the point. It’s the fact that they were all there and enjoying each others’ company like a normal, well-adjusted, loving family that mattered. I can’t remember the last time I witnessed anything like it in America. Everyone is so isolated from everyone else and in my own family at least, everyone harbors all this pent-up resentment against each other and holiday gatherings are a chore that nobody really wants to go through but they go through the motions anyway for the sake of not giving anyone else something to hold against them. But the way this family was celebrating was a big reminder of the fact that most places in the world, unlike America, actually have a culture of their own and the people are actually warm and friendly on the inside as opposed to just on the surface.

There were a few points of interest during the festivities. Gerlinda passed around some intricate wood-carvings that were sent from friends from Peru, with whom some business is done even from this tiny village. Apparently a tunnelling company that got started very close to Ichenheim is now a worldwide success, doing business even in South America and China. Also, Gerlinda’s husband came in with a giant walking stick he’d carved from a piece of wood he’d found while hiking in the black forest, and we all admired his work. The little girl played a wooden recorder and said a poem she learned in school. And finally Gerlinda brought out an interesting little instrument that I think is called a “Zitter” which is a wooden panel with a bunch of strings and in which you can place a piece of paper telling you what notes to play. She played a few Christmas tunes, the only one I knew being “Silent Night” and the men sang while Steffan occasionally played along on the recorder. As bored as I might have been most of the time, the atmosphere was undeniably pleasant. The spirit of Christmas, which for many years I’d taken as a bunch of bullshit and still do to an extent, is at least alive and well right here.

So anyway, we left after about three hours, just as I was really getting anxious to go, and came back to the house and had their traditional Christmas dinner of fondue and red wine. Because I don’t eat red meat Ursula had bought some turkey or something for me to eat, which was okay but not nearly as delicious as the real meat I was able to eat four years ago, and for the first time in quite awhile I actually wished I still ate it. But at least I had the advantage of not feeling completely stuffed with meat to the point where I couldn’t move like Frederick, who meant to take complete advantage of that once-a-year tradition. And although I must have drank six or seven glasses of wine all day, it was done very slowly and always with a glass of water in between, so I actually slept like a baby and feel perfectly fine this morning. My shirt smells like meat, but that’s the only remaining consequence.

All I know about today is that we’ll be eating some delicious food, drinking some delicious beer, and going out this evening to see a male voice choir. Certainly nothing I could complain about.

Wieder in Ichenheim

December 24th, 2008 No comments

Yesterday was a delightful reminder of why I loved coming here four years ago while I was living in Frankfurt. My German family, or at least the small section of it that the Pfeiffers and the Neumanns represent, is made up of great people. Dieter Pfeiffer is my grandmother’s nephew, now 60 years old, and he lives with his wife Ursula on the first floor of a beautiful little house while their daughter Myriam lives with her husband Ralf and several cats on the second floor. Each floor is a complete apartment to itself, but at least while they have company they all eat together and drink late into the night.

I was in a relatively bad mood when the day began yesterday, and when I got to the train station and heard the announcement that my train was running 15 minutes behind, I assumed I was in for some bullshit down the line as my changeover in Baden-Baden gave me only 10 minutes of breathing room. The train came and I took my seat in the first-class coach (which for some bizarre reason that my German wasn’t good enough to understand, it actually cost less to get the first-class ticket) which was kind of nice but also good confirmation that the itty bitty bit of extra comfort you get in first class is not worth all the extra money you would normally have to pay. I also had a hard time enjoying it because my mind was dwelling on that connection I’d probably miss, and I had no way of getting in touch with Dieter, who was supposedly coming to pick me up, to explain the situation. But I figured that since Baden-Baden was close enough to Offenburg I’d be able to catch a regional train and get there not too much later than expected.

I started to feel a little better when the train approached Frankfurt to make its stop at the Hauptbahnhof there. This just happened to be at sunset, and the sun just happened to peek out of the clouds for the first time in many days, and seeing the good old Frankfurt skyline washed in the orange glow of the sun was a delightful experience, beautifully augmented by “Us and Them” playing on my I-pod. “In the end it’s only round and round” indeed. Back in Frankfurt, the city in which I spent the best year of my life, for the first time in three and a half years. On my way to Ichenheim for the first time in just as long. Around and around we go.

As the train approached Karlsruhe, the city where I rung in 2005 with a bunch of rowdy young Germans shooting off fireworks in the streets, the train conductor said something in German about Offenburg, and I asked the first-class waiter guy what he meant. Apparently due to the delay the train would be making an unscheduled stop in Offenburg. I wouldn’t have to change trains at all, and we’d get there only five minutes later than I expected. I couldn’t believe the luck.

So the train arrived and I found Dieter waiting for me on the platform. Big smiles, warm embrace, and straight into German-only speaking mode for the 20-minute ride home. I had been a little nervous about this for awhile as I don’t think my German has improved any since the last time I was there, and if anything it’s a little rusty because I never use it in my day to day life. But I surprised myself by doing rather well, and again I somehow understood nearly everything he said. Of course the topics of conversation were simple enough. The weather. Things in the area that have changed in the last four years. That sort of thing.

No need to continue in the same amount of detail for the rest of the night. Dinner, as expected, was fantastic—the first real, home-cooked meal I’ve had in many months, fine German cuisine cooked by Ursula who may just be the best cook in the world. I’d said months ago in an e-mail to Myriam, the only solid English speaker (I’d call her upper-intermediate) in the house, that I no longer eat red meat so it was a vegetarian meal of salad and Käsespezle, the latter of which I couldn’t begin to explain but it’s extremely fucking lecker, which means delicious.

After dinner came the barrage of beer and conversation. I did as best I could with my German (which improved in proportion to my alcohol consumption) and talked about Hannover and my lessons and whatnot. When I needed help, Myriam would help me or her brother Frederick, who is about my age and lives near Nuremburg but who also speaks decent English. They told me my German had improved since last time, but I think maybe they were just being polite, although I probably am less reserved about speaking it than before, probably as a result of dealing with terrible English speakers all the time for my job and knowing that you can be understood even when you butcher the language to the extreme.

But the most significant thing to come out of the night was the suggestion that I move to Freiburg and teach there, which was an extremely interesting proposition that made me wish I’d come here as soon as I moved and before I’d invested so much time building a life in Hannover. But Freiburg is only 30 minutes from Ichenheim which means I could literally get a ride from Dieter and stay here every weekend. Apparently Dieter also has many connections there so they could help me with everything from finding a job to an apartment and everything else short of a girlfriend. And finally, I’ve been to Freiburg and frankly it is a lot nicer than Hannover, situated as it is right on the Black Forest and built with aesthetics firmly in mind (e.g. there are tiny little canals with running water lining the streets, purely for decoration). Anyway, we resolved to consider it and I think we’ll be on the internet this week looking around for possibilities.

So there are many reasons to move (my new resolve to get the fuck out of my apartment one of the biggest ones) but also a few reasons to stay put for the time being, the least important but probably the most practical being that I bought a 6-month public transportation pass for Hannover beginning in November so unless I can somehow get out of that contract early it’ll be a huge waste of hundreds of euros. But I suppose I can justify that if I get a cheaper apartment. Not to mention free meals and beer every weekend at Ichenheim.

But the least practical and most important reason to stay in Hannover is the people. Not only would I be saying goodbye to Alan and Amanda, but I’d be leaving my courses at Planeo literally just as I started them, which is kind of a shitty thing to do both to the students themselves and to Frank, my awesometastic boss who would then have to find a replacement. Not that I don’t think he’d be able to do it, or that the students would suffer greatly at losing the inexperienced teacher whose basic lesson-planning philosophy is to mostly wing-it and play games as often as possible, but I still feel like I’ve got an obligation to stay longer, as I did indicate to Frank in my interview that I’d be in Hannover for at least a year.

Anyway, all this can be figured out later. Today is Christmas Eve and I fully expect to enjoy the shit out of it. It should be a damn good week.

The Lingering Dark Cloud

December 23rd, 2008 No comments

In a few hours I’ll be leaving for Ichenheim. I haven’t seen my German family in four years, so it should be a nice little reunion. I’m sure I can look forward to great food, delicious beer, and lovely small-village hospitality for the next week. I’m not sure I’ll have internet access there, so I might have to post all of my journal entries at once when I get back “home” to Hannover.

As far as “home” goes, I’ve decided to definitely move out of this place. The final straw came yesterday when I got a call from my landlady informing me that she is going to stay here while I’m gone. Never mind all that fucking rent I’m paying—since I won’t be using the place she might as well come on in and make herself at home. That means I had to spend a good deal of time last night and this morning making the place look almost as presentable as when I moved in, as well as hide all the evidence that I’m an extremely weird person. Not to mention the unbelievably bizarre idea that while I’m gone, an elderly Turkish lady is going to be living in my apartment. Anyway, I couldn’t really say no because we currently have no legally binding contract that allows me to stay here, not that I’d want to go anywhere near the German judicial system anyway. Waaaay too much of a headache. I’ll just let the crazy lady do what she wants and make my plans to get the hell out of here as soon as possible.

In other news, I’ve finished all of my lessons for the year. I had to do three substitutions back to back yesterday, but while I managed to get my body there my brain was already on vacation after three days of freedom and I didn’t exactly try very hard. Luckily, the normal teacher had planned to watch a movie with her first class, which gave me something to do besides teach. So for the first class I just sat and watched “A Christmas Carol” (the version where Captain Picard plays the role of Scrooge McDuck) and provided some amusing English commentary to the two German women there. The next class was less advanced, however, and I didn’t want to watch that thing twice in a row anyway so I busted out the time-tested “Personality Traits” lesson and worked my way through that with the struggling students before ending with a game. The lesson itself was a waste, but they did enjoy the game, so I consider it a success. Sometimes I feel like all I should do in these classes is play games, but then I’m sure some people would feel like it’s just a waste of time and company money so I have to keep things balanced. Finally, my next class was advanced but only one person showed up, and since I was in no mood to do any more work for the year I just went and watched the movie again. It wasn’t as fun as the first time but it got us through the hour and a half, then afterwards we had some small-talk conversation about Christmas in general as well as our own particular plans. And that was it. My last lesson of 2008.

And in other news, I still haven’t heard from Corey since his “I guess we’re not really friends” e-mail from the other day, although oddly enough I did hear from Loren a couple of days ago, asking me to be brutally honest about what I thought of her. I responded in my characteristic fashion of going into excruciating detail and probably saying too much for any of it to mean anything. She wrote me back thanking me for writing so much and that she’ll respond later, but so far nothing so who knows?

At any rate, the whole Corey thing just pisses me off more each day. I still don’t feel like I did anything horribly wrong and that it shouldn’t be such a big deal, but as long as I’ve got this hanging over my head—the possibility that my 8-year friendship with him is over—I can’t be happy. I can feel good, I can have fun, I can enjoy my life, but I can’t be happy in the way I was last week when literally all was right with the world. So I guess this is punishment for last year’s thoughtcrime, which I suppose is appropriate enough. But the longer he waits to respond, the bigger a deal it becomes and the angrier I get at him for making such a big deal out of it. And if he actually does decide to end our friendship over such trivia, I’ll never forgive him.

I don’t know if he’s holding out for an apology from me or if he has already decided to end it, but if he has some grievances with me, perhaps even for writing the kind of thing I’m writing now, he should do the mature, adult-like thing and confront me about it with actual words that we can talk about. Perhaps my transgressions were more serious than I realise, but without him to point this out to me I just won’t see what it is I did wrong. I feel like we’re a bickering old married couple and he’s the wife who refuses to tell me why she’s angry at me until I can figure it out myself and apologise for it. This is just my perception—I’m sure he sees it completely differently—but until he tells me how he sees it I’ve only got my perception to go on. And if he doesn’t like me writing about it in this journal, he can easily say, “Please stop writing about me in your journal” and out of respect for his friendship I would do it. But as long as a personal issue with him is the number one thing weighing on my mind, that’s what will go in the journal, which just now happens to posted online entry by entry instead of in big documents with months’ worth of entries tucked away in the archives. It’s a strange situation to say the least, and I can completely understand why he’d be angry, but I can’t help but think he might just be using this as an excuse to get rid of me so he can wallow in isolation and agonize over the fact that he doesn’t have a friend in the world. And if I’m wrong about that, I hope he’ll tell me himself so I can set the record straight.

And I think I’ll end this entry by mentioning Jessi, just to keep things consistent with the rest of my journals which are virtually all about her. God forbid when I come back and read these at a later date I get the impression that I was completely over her at this point. This is just a reminder to my future self that on Tuesday, the 23rd of January in 2008, you were still thinking about her. I wouldn’t want to let you forget how pathetic you were, and most likely still are.

Less Enjoyable

December 19th, 2008 No comments

I can’t feel completely good about my life right now, because it’s been two days since I’ve heard from Corey and I know he’s angry at me, so that’s one giant roadblock to positive thinking that I have to deal with. Other than that everything’s great, but it’s kind of a big thing, impossible not to think about whenever the mind wanders, so I just have to deal with it. At least I don’t feel as guilty about it as I might. It’s like he’s punishing me for thoughts I had almost a year ago, which to me is just silly. If a friend of mine told me, “Hey, last year I had some nasty thoughts about you but I didn’t tell you,” I would laugh. But to him this is a deep personal affront to that I have somehow deliberately inflicted. I never asked or encouraged him to read that journal—he chose to read it and chose to perceive it in the worst way possible—but it’s still my fault. Maybe I should have warned him that it was up there and that there might be some stuff in there he wouldn’t like, but that basically WOULD have been inviting him to read it and thus to get offended so I’m not even sure I can blame myself for that.

And on top of everything, I did go back on Wednesday and read most of my Santa Barbara journal, at least up to 2008, and I didn’t find anything that I thought would be terribly offensive. I barely mentioned him at all even. It was mostly excruciatingly boring, way over-thought-out crap about whatever particular girl my mind happened to be focussed on at that point in the year, and I can’t imagine he suffered himself to read all of that (I could barely even stand it myself) so he must have just skimmed it for the parts that mentioned him. So it’s like I left a dull knife on a table a year ago and he found it, started stabbing himself with it, and then blamed me for leaving the knife there. So on the one hand I regret that there was even a knife in the first place (that he bothered me enough as a room-mate that I felt compelled to write about it) and I’m worried that he will see this is as somehow unforgivable and thus end our friendship and condemn me to a lifetime of depressing thoughts as such a giant percentage of things in my life like music and movies and whatnot are associated with him, but on the other hand I just don’t feel like I did anything wrong, and that this whole anti-drama is of his own doing and a result of his own perception.

It was very weird to write that, because it’s exactly what I would write in my journal if I wasn’t posting it online and if I didn’t expect him to read it. But I know he will read it and he probably won’t like it and it may just exacerbate the situation. That’s just the nature of the experiment here of making all my private thoughts public. It may turn out to be a terrible idea practically, but I still feel that it’s something I should do as a matter of principle. There’s nothing I hate more than lies, and lying, and if I want to keep a website as a record of my life it’s completely disingenuous to pick and choose what I should post and what I should and shouldn’t say in my journal. If Corey is angry at me for not being open and honest about my feelings last year, I don’t see how he can be justifiably mad at me for being completely open and honest about my feelings right now. If his problem is that this should be an issue between just him and me and I shouldn’t be posting it online for everyone to see, I’d remind him that other than me, he is almost certainly the only person who will ever read this anyway.

Okay, enough about that. Yesterday would have been my last lessons of the year if I hadn’t agreed to three substitutions on Monday, and both classes went well. When I got to Helmstedt I had about a half hour before my first class, so I went to the computer room to read some blogs to kill time. About ten minutes before my lesson, Tereza came in and told me that my lessons wouldn’t be in here but in another room. I knew that, but I left and followed her down the hall to the room where she thought I was supposed to be, but which was occupied by Robert, one of the other Planeo teachers who has lessons in Helmstedt, the guy who taught the students in my group before they split that class into two groups and gave me one of them. Tereza was a little embarrassed because she hadn’t realised there were supposed to be two classes at once, but then she found out I should just go back to the computer room. Incidentally, she looked gorgeous, as her shirt revealed some magnificent breast curvature that I had not noticed before, and her face was looking just as cute as ever. But it was nothing that made me want to stab my eyes out with a fork or anything. If this can be called infatuation, it’s of the most minor variety.

So I waited in the computer room for awhile, and Robert came by to chat with me about the students and doing these lessons in general. He warned me about one of the students, Andreas, who he said was an over-achiever who would actually tell the other students things like, “We’re not here to socialize.” I got a bit worried by that, because the last thing I need is a student who feels like I’m not teaching him well enough.

About ten minutes after my class was supposed to start, a secretary came in and told me I was actually supposed to be in a conference room in another building, so I went there and found two students waiting for me, a really sweet but very round woman named Monika, and the über-professional-looking Andreas. As always, I started by introducing myself, and when I said I was from New Jersey, Andreas’s face lit up. When it came time for him to introduce himself he started by saying he’s glad I’m from New Jersey because A) he was there in August so he had a good mental picture of where I’m from, B) he loves America and wants to spend some time there every year, and C) for the last ten months he has been watching every episode of “The Sopranos” on DVD and he’s almost done, so he scored some points with me for that last tidbit. Apparently he’s been watching it in the original English audio with English subtitles to help him learn the language, but he says it’s also taught him some things he can’t really use in the business environment. I wondered how he could even understand what they were saying with the thick Jersey accents like that, but he said it was really difficult at first but you just get used to it after awhile, which makes sense.

Anyway, later in the lesson I busted out the old issues list, and as these were mega-advanced students (the best kind) we had the best discussions I’ve had in any class so far. The first topic was gay marriage, and while none of us were gay our opinions were all somewhat different. Andreas opposed it, while Monika and I were in favour of it, although when Andreas came at us with the “then why can’t you marry your sister?” argument, Monika kind of conceded a little bit while I stuck to my guns and said you should be able to marry your sister. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean you have to like it or think it’s moral, just as if something is illegal doesn’t make it immoral or wrong. Their English was even good enough for me to bring up Mill’s liberty principle, that to protect people from the tyranny of the majority no law should be made unless it actually prevents harm to others. They both agreed with the spirit of the idea, but Andreas held to his conviction that allowing gay people to get married would be harmful to society.

On the issue of gun control, he was the first person to actually be against it. He owns guns, which it’s very hard to do in Germany because of all the regulations, and thinks that Germany’s gun laws should be more like America’s. Monika, of course, was against it, and I’m kind of in between on the issue, so that became an interesting discussion as well. I also learned that there’s almost no punishment for theft in Germany. Andreas’s apartment was broken into a few months ago and some stuff was stolen, but he said that if they ever caught them, as long as it was a first-time offence, they would just have to pay for what they stole and that would be it. So basically anyone with no criminal record can just steal anything and the worst that could happen is they have to give it back. Kind of crazy.

On the death penalty, Andreas surprised me by actually being against it. He’s not against the principle of state executions, although he does see my point in thinking the very idea is wrong, but he just thinks that if there’s any chance whatsoever that the person might be innocent, we shouldn’t take their lives. The only time it would be okay to put someone to death, he said, is when there are so many witnesses that guilt is certain, like in the case of a terrorist who takes hostages. Naturally, liberal Monika was against it in all cases.
And finally, they both actually agreed on space exploration—that it’s a waste of money—although they saw my point that we get a lot of useful technology out of it, and it brings the world together rather than driving us apart.

So that was an interesting class. After that I had the apprentices, and spent most of the time playing games under the pretext that it was the last class of the year, when I think we were all aware that it’s just something easy to do that wastes a lot of time and requires almost no planning. Nobody complained though, and it was pretty fun overall. Unfortunately Tereza was too busy to show up, although she did poke her head in towards the end to wish everyone a good Christmas vacation, so I think I’ll let myself believe she just wanted to see me one last time before next year.

My Friday classes were thankfully cancelled, so now I’ve basically got a three-day weekend to spend drinking, and maybe doing some writing or touching-up of my website during the day. I’ll also try and go out for a walk at some point, but the city is a lot less aesthetically pleasurable during the winter so there’s not much incentive. At any rate, it should be rather enjoyable, but at least I won’t be able to have too much fun thanks to this dark cloud of Corey’s anger hovering around in my mind. I wish he would just confront me with what’s bothering him specifically so we can just talk about it already and move past it, because the longer he waits the bigger a deal it becomes, and I don’t think it should be a big deal at all. Hopefully it’ll be resolved by the time I leave for Ichenheim next week, but we’ll see.

Best Job in the World

December 17th, 2008 No comments

Overall, I’ve been feeling very good for quite some time now, as there’s virtually nothing in my life to be unhappy about. Yesterday was another particularly good day, which I’ll get into shortly, but today I finally have reason to be upset. Having spent the better part of Monday re-building my website to give it a less “twelve-year-old-astronomy-nerd” look and a less “preachy-asshole” feel, I also set up the online journal and sent the link to Corey and Krissi. The link didn’t work for Corey so I told him he could easily just navigate there from the main page. Since my old journals are now much easier to find, and since he probably hasn’t looked through my website in quite awhile, this was the first time he discovered that I have them posted up there. So he read the one I kept in Santa Barbara, during the time I shared an apartment with him and Loren, and got very offended by some of the bad things I wrote about him in there.

He didn’t tell me specifically what I said to make him angry, so now I’m compelled to spend most of the day going back and reading through it again to see exactly what I wrote about him. I remember it was mostly bad—this was during what I consider to be the low point of our friendship—so his anger doesn’t surprise me, but this is a good early indication of the downside of keeping my journal online. Namely, I can’t write any of the negative thoughts I may have about my friends because they could be reading it. So naturally I can’t be as 100% open as I usually am, although the very point of posting all of my journals online is to be 100% open about who I am. For instance, the irony about what I’m writing now is that not only will he definitely read this, but there’s a good chance he’ll be the only person who does.

But in a way I’m glad he read that shit because now it is all out in the open and he knows me that much better than he did before. If we can still be friends after all that additional insight into my undeniably flawed personality, it’s all for the better in the long run. Anyone who might not want to be my friend after reading something in my journal can go fuck themselves because I really don’t need any friends, so there’s no reason for me to hide anything from anybody.

Anyway, enough about that. Yesterday, as I said, was a pretty good day. I had two very early substitutions in the morning, but the first class, the 8 a.m., didn’t show up. So I sat there reading from my emergency stash of TIME magazines for an hour and a half, happy to get the free money. For the next class, only one woman showed up, and I busted out the list of political issues to get a discussion going. She read the one about global warming, but then we got into an hour-long conversation that drifted all over the place and really had nothing to do with global warming. The most interesting things I learned from her were about the ongoing shadow of Nazism that still hangs over the Germans’ heads after all this time. Most people feel that they shouldn’t have to keep apologising to the world for something that they feel could have happened anywhere (which I agree with), and that their government shouldn’t keep paying money to Israel in reparations for the Holocaust but the government continues to do so, I guess because although not many people are aware they do this (I had no idea), it would be really bad international P.R. if they suddenly stopped. “Germany feels Holocaust debt has been paid” would be the headlines. They’d take a lot of shit from everyone.

Equally interesting was the total reverse treatment of Jews in the media from back in that time. There was some rich Jew awhile back who committed a crime but nobody in the media could get away with criticizing him for fear of being called a Nazi. For all the anti-semitic sentiment that still lingers in this country, it can’t be expressed in public because people are afraid of being labelled Nazis, just as people in the states are afraid of being labelled racist.

Right after that conversation I had my lesson with Frau Suhr, which after doing some grammar and reading a short article about the EU climate negotiations in Poznan last week, turned into another interesting conversation about the future of humanity, whether civilisation is actually doomed to collapse or if technology will save us, and what the particular barriers to progress are. She said that while pessimism is a typical German characteristic, she’s actually an optimist about the future, believing that the internet is the key to us coming together to solve the world’s problems and figure out how we can all live sustainably together in peace. I hope she’s right, but I continue to have my doubts. The internet certainly seems to have the potential to bring us all together, but so far nobody seems to be utilizing it for any grand purpose. But she reminded me that this is still new technology, truly an infant phenomenon on the global scene, and as it gets older and more people begin to appreciate its power, it could really have a much more visible and more positive impact on everything.

When I left I couldn’t help but appreciate just how much my job kicks ass. I had just made over 50 euros, roughly the amount I made during an entire shift at the resort in Santa Barbara, for basically nothing more than having two very interesting conversations. This is really the best job in the world, and the more I think about it the more I feel like I might just do this for the rest of my life. But that’s obviously a decision I don’t have to make any time soon.

My lesson with the soldier, Mr. Hennicke, was cancelled again, so that was the end of my work for the day. At night Alan called me to invite me to another Quiz Night thing at an Irish pub we’d never been to before, and although I was exhausted from the very early morning, I had been planning to drink anyway as I usually do on Tuesdays, so I had a couple of beers and went out to get there around 9 o’clock when it began. As usual it was me, Alan, and Amanda, but this time we were there with Natalja, another Planeo teacher, the Estonian girl who lived in America for 13 years so she sounds American, and as usual it was a good time. The pub was really nice, and not nearly as crowded as the other places, so I think we’ll be going back there a lot. I also got more pressure to move out of my apartment, but I explained why I wasn’t so adamant about doing that and Amanda said she’d find me a place just to show me that I could do better. I doubt she’ll lift a finger, but it would spare me a lot of trouble if she did the annoying work of looking around for me. So the possibility for moving next month is still very real, but I’m still not sure as to the likelihood.

So that was the first half of the week. And there’s no reason to think the second half will be any less enjoyable.

First Online Post!

December 15th, 2008 No comments

After giving it a good deal of thought, I’ve decided to take this journal on-line and post each entry to a blog on my website. Seeing as how I’m already sending each entry to Corey and Krissi, it’s pretty much public literature anyway. Rather than copy each entry and send it to them in an e-mail, now I’ll just copy and post it to my blog of two readers. Should I make new friends over the course of my life and feel comfortable enough letting them see as deep into my psyche as this journal goes, I can direct them to my website as well. So one of the best advantages of this will be the ability to keep all of my friends both past and present up-to-date on exactly what’s going on in my life, which will hopefully get more and more interesting over the next several years.

There are some disadvantages to this, of course. Writing with a wider audience in mind than my two closest friends will be a psychological deterrent to getting as personal as I usually like to go, yet half the reason I keep this journal is to analyse the darker, more shameful aspects of my character, to confront my demons and continue this never-ending journey of self-discovery. Do I really want everyone I meet to know about my sexual peculiarities? There are definitely people out there who would, after learning such things, not want to associate with me anymore. And that’s fine. I don’t need them. I’ll associate with people who can accept me, faults included.

Which leads me to the biggest reason I want to do this, which is the principle on which I started my website one year ago: to promote the idea of people being completely open and honest with the world about who and what they are. My website is to be an online manifestation of my identity. And that does consist of all my writing but what it mainly consists of is my actual, day-to-day life, and if I keep that off the site then it’s not really complete. My mind is there for all to see, but it doesn’t have my soul in it.

So anyone who I meet that I feel like I’d like to keep as a life-long friend will be invited to my own little on-line space, very much like one of those social networking sites only this will truly be my own, and they can read as much or as little about me and my ideas and philosophy as they like. Anyone curious about what I’m up to can take a look at the blog anytime and leave a comment to let me know they’re still thinking about me. And maybe, just perhaps, it’ll inspire a few others to make their own similar sites to post the stories of their own lives as they live them and share their art or political opinions or whatever they’re passionate about with the world. And maybe it’ll eventually lead to this revolution I’ve been waiting for.

Probably not, but it will at least be something of great value in my own life. I think that when told correctly, my life is a pretty interesting story. So why not share that story with as many people as possible?

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