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Posts Tagged ‘jogging’

Epic Return, part 1

October 19th, 2012 No comments

Yesterday was what you might call a long day, beginning with me waking up at 4:00 a.m. in America and ending with me going to sleep at 9:30 p.m. the next calendar date on the other side of the planet. But I am BACK in my apartment in Togane, Japan and couldn’t be more thrilled to be here.

I had two flights yesterday, the first a 6-hour trip from Newark to Vancouver through Air Canada. That flight was mostly filled with white English-speakers like myself, but as soon as I got to the departure gate for my flight from Vancouver to Narita the entire atmosphere changed. There was a group of about fifty Japanese schoolgirls waiting to board the flight with me, and just about everyone else waiting was also Japanese. Just like that, I was back in the cultural minority. Listening to all those girls banter incomprehensibly all around me, I couldn’t stop myself from grinning at the sound, as they sounded exactly like my students. Of course they weren’t my students, otherwise half of them would be smiling and waving at me and a handful would be coming over to try and communicate, but it won’t be long before I get to experience that unique sort of pleasantness again.

While waiting in Vancouver I took out my iPhone to charge it through one of the USB-chargers they had at some of the airport seats, and discovered to my dismay that it was broken. I’d packed it in a stupid place and it was busted up and wouldn’t charge. That would make things more difficult upon my return, but I immediately sent an e-mail to my phone provider using the airport’s wireless service to hopefully get the ball rolling on a replacement a.s.a.p.

But I did have some good luck by getting a window seat for the second flight even though no window seats had been available to reserve, and I found myself sitting next to a very serious-looking Japanese guy in a suit. One of the flight attendants came by to ask me if I was travelling alone and if I’d be willing to switch with someone seated in the emergency exit row who didn’t want to be there, and I said sorry but I was perfectly happy here. The guy next to me chuckled, so apparently he spoke English. We chatted briefly, and he turned out to be one of the guys in charge of the student group. Apparently it was an all-girl class trip in which they’d spent the week all split up staying with different families in a nearby town. Why they’d pick some obscure Canadian town out of all the places in the world for a class trip I have no idea, but it was interesting because I never knew high school students did things like that before.

The flight was ten long hours, but I came prepared this time, all set and ready to go with an addictive strategy computer game to make the time fly by. But I was only a half-hour into it when a flight attendant came up to me and said I couldn’t use my wireless mouse because it was a transmitter and therefore prohibited, and the game is such that you can’t really play it without a mouse. All I could think was, “Are you kidding me? My little mouse is going to throw our entire flight off course?” But hey, even the slightest chance of it causing anything to go even slightly wrong is motivation enough for me to shut the thing off. Luckily I’d also packed a game controller that was not wireless, so I could play some Super Nintendo emulator instead whenever I needed a break from A Song of Ice and Fire on my Kindle.

The weather was crappy when we made our approach but it was a magnificent feeling when we broke out of the cloud cap and Japanese soil finally came into view. It was a slightly rough landing but there must have been a mile-wide grin on my face when we finally touched down. I still had a long way to go to my apartment, but at least I was back on my beloved “semi-solid ground”.

Then came the Moment of Truth. Immigration. This is what I waited two months for, for the sticker in my passport that would let me through the gates. I wait in line until I finally step up to the counter. The immigration officer looks at my visa and asks me if I understand Japanese. Uh oh. What’s this now? I tell him “sukoshi” (a little) and he says in broken English that because I’m staying for one year I need to go through the Priority Line at the end of the room.

So I line up there and when the time came I step up and nervously hand my documents to the lovely immigration officer there, fully expecting complications. Lo and behold, she takes the documents, inputs some info into her system, prints out a new alien registration card and gives me the green light to go through all without me having to say a single word. That happened so fast it felt absurd. I waited two months for the bureaucrats to process what I needed for immigration, and I was through in literally two minutes.

Not that I was complaining of course. It exhilarating to finally be back in Japan as legally as can be. No more bureaucratic bullshit for a whole year! And you can’t even imagine how on top of the visa renewal process I’m going to be when the times comes.

It took awhile for my baggage to appear at the baggage claim but not long enough to get me really worried. There was still major relief when they finally showed up, and as soon as the customs guy let me through and out into the public section of the airport, I knew I was home free.

I still had the money I’d put on my Suica card for the return train journey I was supposed to have taken back in August, so I just breezed through into the station and found my train. An hour later I was in Chiba, and from there it was routine—Chiba to Oami, Oami to Togane. I arrived at the home-base platform at 7:10 p.m.

It was raining as I dragged my luggage the fifteen-minute trip up the road to my apartment, but I was smiling the entire time. This was where I’d been longing to be for the last two months and now I was actually here! There’s the karaoke bar! There’s the supermarket! There’s the post-office! Holy crap, there’s my school! And there’s my beautiful beautiful apartment building!

Now for the next moment of truth. I take out my key, insert it into the lock, and twist. Ah, never has a clicking sound sounded more magnificent! I open the door, and there’s the power switch on the wall. Let’s see if Interac really handled the situation as they said they would. If the electric company cut me off, it was too late in the evening to get it fixed before the morning, so I’d have to be in the dark all night. I flick the switch. Nothing…crap…wait…there it is! Apparently it just needed a split second to wake up after all those weeks of hibernation.

In come the bags, off comes my sweat-drenched shirt. And into my brain strikes the reality that I’M HOME!!!!!! I find myself laughing almost hysterically with joy, even hugging the wall with appreciation. It’s still here! It’s still clean! And it’s not even stuffy and stinky!

All that remains is to check the water and make sure I still have internet service. I twist the hot water valve of my kitchen sink, and it too needs a moment to realize what’s happening before it comes gushing out of the faucet in a magnificent cascade of hydration-replenishing goodness. Now let’s just make sure it gets hot…waiting…waiting…still waiting. Hmm. Maybe the gas just needs more time to wake up than the electricity and water, so I leave the faucet running. A minute later and still…no hot water. The gas has been shut off. Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

At least based on my experience, the Japanese are pretty good about taking care of these things in a very timely fashion, so I should at least have hot water for a shave and shower by the time I head into school tomorrow.

I unpack the computer and fire up the modem. I need to re-enter all the security information but luckily I’ve got that readily available, so I’m back online in a matter of minutes. I send Interac an e-mail to let them know I’m back but in need of hot water, and I get an e-mail from my phone provider about replacing the damaged iPhone.

I don’t know if you remember the story of my lost iPhone a year ago, but I’d been using an older model after I thought I’d lost the iPhone 4, but the iPhone 4 magically appeared weeks later so I’ve had that the whole time. That makes this much easier, as instead of waiting for a whole new phone I just need a new sim-card, as the one for the old model won’t fit in the model 4. Kind of funny that now I’ll actually be going back to use the iPhone I originally bought in the first place. Now it no longer feels ridiculous to have two of the damn things, and I’m glad no one took me up on my offer to buy one from me over the last year!

I’m starving, and I know there’s a KFC right up the road but I’m exhausted and I’ve still got some instant Ramen. It’s an electric stove so I’m capable of cooking that, and that’s what I do for dinner as I finish the rest of the unpacking.

It’s about 9:30 when I consider myself done for the day, and I unfold my bed, curl up under the covers, take a moment to squeeze one last ounce of appreciation from being back, and fall fast asleep.

I woke up a few times during the night and although my body might have been telling me it was the afternoon, I was still exhausted enough to get back to sleep and not wake up permanently until about 5:30, though I still laid there in a half-conscious state until 7:30 when the noises from the elementary school marching band began blaring. That’s going to get annoying again real quick, but today it was a welcome sound.

I was able to call Interac through Skype, and right now it looks like the gas man should be coming around 11:00 and I don’t even need to be here when he does, so that’s convenient. Everything is all set up for me to head into the school at 2:20 p.m., which is after the last period Heath and O-sensei are teaching and right before the last period of the day, so I figured that was the best time to go in. Interac is also going to send someone to the school at that time to meet me, so we can get all the remaining loose ends tied up including what bills I need to pay, as there was quite the substantial pile on my floor when I got back.

And now as soon as I’m done posting this blog entry I’m going to head out for a run. After two months of running an entirely uphill/downhill route it should feel like the easiest thing in the world to get back to my completely flat route, and I’ve missed this route as much as anything else here so it’s going to feel fantastic.

By the time I’m back the gas should be on so I can shave and shower, then I’ll head to the supermarket to stock up on everything I need in terms of groceries…which is pretty much everything there is. Hell, I even miss the supermarket so I’m going to thoroughly enjoy that too!

Of course what I’m most looking forward to is heading into school, and you should expect an entry on what that was like soon. I’ll have the weekend to recover from jet-lag, have a nice little reunion get-together with some friends Saturday night, and be as ready as I can be to teach again starting Monday.

With regards to that, I actually received my schedule for next week when I checked my e-mail in Vancouver. Usually the schedule has which class and which lesson from the textbook you’ll be teaching, but this schedule was different. I’m only teaching about 2/3 of the classes so that’s a little disappointing, but there’s just one word underneath each class I’m teaching and it’s the same word for each class: “games”. Jack-fucking-pot!

It means I get free reign to do absolutely anything I want in all these classes, who have presumably been longing for my games so much while I’m gone that the teachers decided my first lesson back should just be pure unfettered fun. And pure unfettered fun is exactly what they’re going to get! Of course no matter how much the students enjoy those classes I’m certain I’ll be enjoying them more.

Usually when you come back from a vacation the hardest part is going back to work, but as far as I’m concerned Monday can’t come fast enough!

Goodbye, Hannover

July 14th, 2011 No comments

neues Rathaus Hannover

This will be my last journal entry from Hannover. In a few minutes, Lena will swing by to say goodbye to me, and at around 2:00 Oliver will come to help me put the finishing touches on my packing and throwing stuff away. When that’s done we’ll be driving to Dortmund where Oliver knows a guy who knows of a good place to camp, and we’ll either spend the night camping outside or in the apartment of Oliver’s friend. The next morning we’ll head from there to nearby Düsseldorf, from where my plane will take me back to America and the next chapter of my life.

I’ve spent the last few days living pretty much like I always have, spending lots of time in my box but heading out frequently for errands, jogging, or cycling. On Tuesday evening I went out for a little farewell dinner with Amanda, Tom (the guy from Atlanta), and Lena. We’d thought that would be the last time I’d see Lena but when we finished eating she said she didn’t want to say goodbye that night and would make sure to see me on Thursday. That goodbye will probably happen before I finish this entry [it did, and was very sad].

Once Lena and Tom had gone, Amanda kept buying us rounds of beer and we ended up staying there until extremely late at night, getting drunk to the point where I was loose-lipped enough to get into a discussion of my sexual issues, and she was insisting that we go to a sex-worker and get my virginity taken that night so it wouldn’t be such a big deal to me anymore. In a normal state of mind I wouldn’t even consider it, but it was kind of tempting at that level of drunkenness. Still, no amount of drunkenness would be enough to get me to throw my virginity away on a prostitute—sex with someone who’s only doing it for business has no appeal to me whatsoever, and since I’m perfectly content in my long-term virginity (except for a few highly unfortunate side-effects), that’s just not something I was willing to do.

But I had to give Amanda credit for at least trying to help me out, and coming closer than anyone else has. It was a bittersweet farewell when I hugged her goodbye and she rode her bike away, then I stumbled back towards my apartment just as the rain began to fall heavily. I waited in a doorway of a building for it to let up, dozed off for awhile, then got back up and headed home as the sun began to rise.

I had to suffer through the after-effects for most of yesterday, so unfortunately I didn’t squeeze as much appreciation out of Hannover on my last full day here than I would have liked, but the weather was terrible anyway so all I did was go for one last bike ride in the morning.

But after the sun had gone down last night, the power went off in the whole city. One of the things I always found interesting about Germany was that in all the years I’ve spent here (almost 4 if you include my exchange-student year) was that I’d never experienced a single power-blackout. I’m not sure if this one was weather-related or simply the result of an overloaded grid due to the fact that those nuclear reactors aren’t running anymore (that would make my E.ON students very happy) but the fact that the very first blackout I’ve experienced in Germany came on my very last night in Hannover was a bit of a noteworthy coincidence. Of course I went outside and walked around to get a feel for it, heading through the train station (my last time there) and to the Raschplatz on the other side, which is the first place I had to go when I first arrived in Hannover about three years ago. That feels simultaneously like yesterday and a million years ago.

And this morning I went for one final jog down along the river and for a brief time next to the Maschsee, fully aware the whole time that I wouldn’t be seeing any of these lovely, familiar areas again for quite some time. I can hardly believe that my life here is over.

I’ll leave reflecting on my time here as a whole for another day, as right now I’m focused on the logistical nightmare of getting me and all my stuff back across the ocean. For now I’ll just leave you with some pictures of Hannover I took recently, most from the top of the Rathaus and a few from just walking or cycling around.

It’s been a joy, Hannover. Bis zum nächsten Mal!

From the top of the Rathaus. Towards my street.

Marktkirche Maschteich

Maschsee AWD Arena

Aegidientorplatz Stadthalle

 Eilenriede Deutsche Bahn

Hiroshima Gedenkhain This is in one of Hannover's loveliest parks.

My favorite spot in the Eilenriede. Moments made for living in the moment.

Maschsee at sunset. As far north along the river as you can go by bike.

My street. Auf wiedersehen.

The Sun Shines But I Don’t

March 18th, 2010 No comments

Today was the first warm-weather day of the year, at least 15˚C but it felt like more. People are walking around outside without jackets, some even in T-shirts. The vibe of the city is noticeably different, with smiles on people’s faces as they walk, roller-skate, or ride their bicycles with their little cliques of friends. I just got back from a jog, the first of the year in just a T-shirt. The pleasant vibe almost affected me a few times and I almost felt good about myself during a few moments when whatever song on my I-pod reached an emotional climax, but for the most part I still felt a zombie, the way I’ve been feeling for weeks now and especially over the past few days.

Last Wednesday I finally sent my application to the James School of Japan, and the following day I got a message thanking me for applying and notifying me that selected applicants would be contacted by e-mail. Nothing about when I should expect to be contacted or what my chances are of being selected. It could happen tomorrow, it could happen months from now, or it could never happen. I feel like I haven’t done enough, but the ball is in their court. My only current plan is to give it a few more days and then e-mail them asking when I’ll be able to know if I was selected or not.

Other than that, over the last few weeks all I’ve been doing is working, paying one visit to Oliver in Celle last weekend, jogging roughly three days a week, and writing crap that nobody cares about. I haven’t seen Amanda in weeks, and now she’s gone for a month on vacation with her folks who are visiting from Australia. Lena is doing some kind of program with her communist friends that involves leaving for weeks at a time, and when she’s around she wants to spend it alone with Oliver. Since last weekend in Celle I haven’t had any social interaction whatsoever outside of work, and while I have the highest tolerance for isolation of anyone I know, it’s starting to get to me.

This morning my first lesson began with just myself and Mandy, as two of the other students were too busy to come and one arrived about a half-hour late, so I was alone with her for longer than I’ve ever been before. Mandy, you’ll recall, is the very young-looking woman whom I thought I might develop some kind of mild infatuation towards, and it looks like that’s happening. The warm-weather vibe was clearly in effect on her mind as well, so for the first fifteen minutes we were able to have a pleasant conversation. One of the [many] reasons I know it can’t work with her is that her English is just as poor as my German, so communication would be nearly impossible, but we seemed to get by okay this morning. It was enough to get me to consider maybe starting to perhaps think of some way I might possibly in the future ask her out. I won’t do it, but I was definitely thinking about it.

At any rate, I had plenty of time to admire her adorable facial features and picture myself lying next to her, stroking her hair, kissing her ears and whatnot. She has a perfect little body too, but apparently I’m the kind of guy who is more prone to fantasize about physical intimacy than sex. I think there’s a name for that. Oh yeah—a pussy.

But of course that’s never going to happen anyway because of the communication thing, because it’s ever-so-slightly unethical due to our student-teacher relationship, because I get no impression from her that she’s interested in me, and because I hope to leave the country later this year. Of course if anything were to happen with her, I’d gladly stay, but it won’t. It would be great if it could though, as today I found out her actual age. She was telling me about visiting a two-year-old nephew of hers and I asked her if she ever wanted kids and she said she wasn’t sure but maybe later. That seemed as natural a point as any to ask her how old she was and apparently she’s 30. I said she looked much younger and she said she knows, and I asked her if she ever gets carded for alcohol and she said all the time. But seriously, a 30-year-old who looks like she’s 16 is exactly what I need. I guess it’s nice to know that such people exist, although I’m sure most are taken. Mandy has never once used the word ‘boyfriend’ and she seems like that kind of shy, quiet person who could easily get someone if she tried but she must not try. So it seems we at least have something in common.

Oh, I hate what the warm weather does to me. Every spring the loneliness seems to affect me much more deeply than the rest of the year. Now that I hardly ever feel loneliness at all anymore, it sucks to even feel it at all, mild as it is. During my jog I saw a few attractive young women and it actually bothered me this time. I suppose I’m improving—I used to be bothered every time I looked at an attractive girl, understanding that I’ll never get to be intimate with any of them. Now I understand that if I ever do experience real intimacy, it’s just going to get worse because when I lose it I’ll really know what I’m missing. As of now it’s just kind of an abstract idea. A “that must be nice” kind of thing that I can deal with by pleasuring myself. As long as I never have sex, each time I masturbate stands a chance of being the most pleasurable sexual experience of my life. A single solitary real sexual experience and from there on out the best I’ll be able to hope to reach on my own is second-best. So life-long virginity at least has its advantages. Really stupid advantages, perhaps, but advantages nonetheless.

I feel like I’ve written all this a thousand times before. I suppose I’ll stop wasting your time. I just wanted to record where I’ve been mentally in general at this time of my life, and the basic overall feeling I have about my current situation. I’m tired of Hannover, I feel like I’ve worn it all out, so it’s time to go be lonely in another part of the world. At least it’s one way to pass the time before I die that doesn’t involve having a family, and a family for me is not an option. But I’d seriously rather just die now and be done with it. My life may be somewhat interesting and even downright enjoyable, but there’s nothing about it that makes it worth living.

Company, Week 1

August 29th, 2009 No comments

As I pretty much expected, I haven’t had much time or desire to write a lot in the journal since Krissi has been around. It’s Saturday morning now and she’s still asleep so I’ve got some time to record the events of the past week, starting where I left off on Wednesday morning.

Shortly after Krissi woke up we decided to go out for a jog around the Maschsee. She hadn’t gone jogging in about 6 weeks so I had to take it a bit slower than normal, and we jogged for less time. The weather was nice so the scenery was beautiful, and it just a simple nice experience.

I had the whole day off, so I figured we should spend the afternoon being tourists and walk around Hannover following the red line that the tourism bureau painted on the ground which goes by all the major points of interest in the main part of town. I’d bought a guidebook from the Hauptbahnhof bookstore the day before, so I read about each location as we stopped there and repeated all the interesting stuff to Krissi. Not much of it was particularly fascinating or worth repeating here, but I did learn a hell of a lot more about Hannover than I had over the whole course of the year I’ve been here, and it made me realize that I ought to do stuff like this in every city I live in shortly after I move. It gave me a much greater appreciation for a lot of the stuff I see and walk by every day. For instance, I now know who the statues I walk by all the time actually depict and what their significance is in Hannover’s history, the most important being King Ernst August, for whom the area around the train station is named after even though he’s remembered with disdain in Hannover as a rather tyrannical monarch. And now I also understand the significance of the fact that my nearest subway station is called Waterloo, it being near “Waterlooplatz” which is a field with a monument put up to celebrate Hannover’s involvement in defeating Napoleon at Waterloo, taking revenge for his eight-year occupation of the city. The coolest part was probably finally learning the actual ages of some of the old buildings around me. The church right around the corner from my apartment, for instance, is over 600 years old, and the big church in the center of town is nearly 800. All in all, it was an extremely worthwhile thing to do.

That night we just took it easy, listened to music and watched stuff online until it was time to go to bed. Just before going to sleep I tried going online and found that my computer was now fucked up yet again, but in a slightly different way. That immediately put me in a bad mood but I had no desire to go through all that tech support bullshit that late at night so I just went to bed and figured I’d deal with it tomorrow.

Thursday being my longest day of classes but also my most interesting, Krissi agreed to come with me to Helmstedt and sit in on the lessons. Only Andreas showed up to the first one, and as I’d expected would happen, we spent the whole time giving each other travel recommendations—Krissi for his upcoming trip to California where she lives, and Andreas for our upcoming trip to Hamburg where he lives.

Following that I had my lesson with the apprentices, which went just about the same as usual, with a boring first half in which we worked from the textbook followed by an episode of the Simpsons and then a game—this week a trivia quiz that I’d made up last weekend. Only five students were there for the end of class so I broke them into three groups of two, pairing Krissi up with Tereza, and they ended up winning easily. Afterwards Krissi asked me if I’d mentioned Tereza in my journal a few times and I told her that yes, that was her. I said I just found her adorable, and apparently Krissi agrees that she is.

We stopped at the supermarket on the way home to pick up some stuff, then Krissi cooked dinner while I fucked around with the computer, finding a way around the damage from the virus to get onto an internet browser, then just downloading and watching the news. When the sun was setting and twilight encroaching I suggested we go out for a little walk, and we walked down the river to the Maschsee—my newly discovered route—and then back up, Krissi giving me her impressions of my classes and whatnot.

When we returned I had planned to watch “The Ground Truth” with her but the virus wouldn’t let us, and I decided I might as well take care of it now. So I called tech support and the guy took over my computer and I watched him try to fix it for the next three hours, thinking I had to stay awake but eventually falling asleep anyway. When I woke up the major problems were fixed but there was still a virus there, although just from watching these tech support people do their thing for so long I was able to figure out how to get rid of it myself. He also left the antivirus software he’d transferred to my computer where it was, so I registered the program and now I’ve got it set to the maximum level of protection. Hopefully that will prevent this bullshit from happening again, but I’m not very optimistic. I feel like the next virus that hits may be incurable and I’ll wind up having to wipe-out my entire hard-drive. I’m very tempted to buy an external hard drive to back up my music files, videos, and porn. I spent a lot of time accumulating that stuff and I’d hate to have to start again from scratch.

The next day was Friday, which meant I had to get up at 7:00 and go back to Helmstedt for a one-hour class and then possibly a single lesson with Jörg if he decided to show up. Thankfully he didn’t, so I was out of there very quickly and got back to Hannover, swung by the post office to pick up the backpack I’d ordered last week, then came back around 1:00 to find that Krissi was just getting up. The weather was mostly cloudy, warm but with a wind-chill that made it quite cool, which is perfect jogging weather and I suggested we go.

We ended up going through about two-thirds of the new jogging route I discovered, leaving the best part out because she’s still not quite up to par with me and I want to save that little area for when the weather is nicer anyway.

When we got back, we tidied up the apartment a little bit and I took care of some of the aforementioned stuff on my computer like killing the virus and registering the software, after which I took a much needed hour-long nap while Krissi played some awesome jazz music and went online.

When I got up at 5:00 we started drinking beer, and went through the now almost-routine event of Krissi preparing dinner for the two of us while I watch my news programs. Rachel Maddow was back after having had a few nights off being sick, so it was the first time Krissi got to appreciate her excellent style of framing the issues, and although she’s not nearly as politically inclined as me, she paid attention the whole way through.

A few more beers, a few more things to watch online like a couple of South Park episodes, and then we headed out into Friday night Hannover, starting with the Dublin Inn which was quite packed and the only seats we could find were in the back where there was some Karaoke going on. We just had one beer there and spent the whole time discussing music, and most of that time with her explaining to me why she has such a high disdain for the Emo genre.

We left and she asked me to take her to another good bar but I confessed that I really only ever hang out at the Dublin. I walked her down and through the red light district but neither of us had any desire to go into one of the strip joints there, and I realized we were actually pretty close to KGB, the Russian bar/restaurant where I’d hung out with Alan and Amanda a couple of times. We got in and found a table, and Krissi seemed to like the atmosphere so that worked out nicely. We had another beer and ordered some food, something I remembered Alan ordering and which I had to just guess from the menu what it was, but I guessed correctly and it was quite delicious.

After that we walked home, and when we got back in I took one more beer and she poured herself a glass of wine, then I played some music I’d wanted her to hear and was happy to find that she liked it. Over the next hour or so it really felt like old times, as we just smoked and drank and had some incredibly deep conversation striking right to the core of what it means to exist as a human being and how the lines are drawn regarding the “right” and “wrong” way to live our lives.

I woke up this morning around 8:30 and discovered when my shower was over that there’s something now fucked up about the hot water, and it wouldn’t shut off when I turned the valve. Thankfully it eventually stopped when I kept at it, but I’m now really worried that it’s going to turn out to be permanently fucked and I’ll be forced to call the landlord, which means having to face the fact that I haven’t yet paid him rent and therefore to lose a minimum of €920 which I could have used for traveling now and paid him later. So I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that the problem doesn’t get any worse, although between this computer virus bullshit and now the shower problem I’m beginning to think that Krissi might somehow be bad luck for me—that perhaps the universe is compensating for the excellent time I’m having by throwing these frustrating fucking problems at me lest I experience too much happiness.

New Territory Pt. 2

August 18th, 2009 No comments

I feel a bit silly devoting another journal entry to a new jogging route, but having gone out this morning in the crisp August air to perfect it, I have a few more thoughts that I feel compelled to record.

First of all, I planned the route a bit differently than I had originally thanks to having accidentally gone the wrong direction yesterday, so I’m extremely glad I made that mistake otherwise I would have missed what I ultimately found to be the best part of the jog—a narrow path running through an area dominated by brush with some fields and trees to each side, colorful plants all around, and a pen with horses grazing. It was like something out of a dream. When I reached that part my soul began to get that feeling like this was truly something special, that I’d discovered one of the nicest little spots in the world.

One thing is absolutely certain now: Hannover is better than Frankfurt, at least for someone like me. Frankfurt has more people and more stuff but only one serious park, and while it’s a damned nice park it doesn’t compare to this new area I found. Considering that this new area is just one of three or four incredibly nice locations around the city, and I’m far more interested in nice natural locations than a lot of civilization, I can officially say I prefer this city. Running through that area I could hardly believe I was still in a city—it felt like I was way out in the countryside somewhere, miles away from nowhere.

Finally, while my first reaction was to think, “Shit, if only I’d discovered this sooner” I now think that it’s much better that I didn’t. I was just getting tired of the old jogging routes and of Hannover in general. I figured when Krissi comes I’ll get to see it all again through her eyes so that would help a bit, but even without her coming it’s like the whole city has been reinvigorated. I thought I’d seen all the good spots in town but apparently I saved the best discovery for last. Now throughout the next year I’ll have this new area to explore—and it’s way bigger than just the route I’ve decided to jog through. Suddenly I’m not so tired of Hannover after all.

In any case, between the new territory, Krissi’s impending arrival, and weather that couldn’t be more perfect if I envisioned it myself, my soul feels on top of the world right now. I know at some point it’ll crash, but I will sure as hell enjoy this high while it lasts.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

New Territory

August 17th, 2009 No comments

Yesterday was a fuck-you-in-the-arse beautiful day, so I had to take advantage. On my way back from the Planeo office where each Sunday I go and print out my materials for the week, I stopped on a bench in the park behind the Rathaus to finish my book as well as listen to some music and soak up the scenery. But as I returned to my apartment still in the early afternoon, sun shining and cool breeze blowing, I knew that wouldn’t be enough.

I decided to go for a walk in a section of the city I don’t often go. I jog north along the river, but there’s also a really nice section to the south. I jogged there a couple of times when I first got here but it was always just straight down until the path ended and then straight back up again. This time, when I reached the end of the path I kept going, across a little grassy area and over a foot-bridge, across which I found what looked at first like a giant heretofore undiscovered-by-me section of the river. I walked up to the edge and looked across, spotted a familiar building, then came to the sudden realization that I was standing at the edge of the Maschsee.

At that the wheels started turning and I guessed that if I just went to the southwest corner of the Maschsee, crossed the river I’d just been walking along, and went back up the other side it would make for a pretty spectacular jogging route and be just about the right distance. But at that point I didn’t want to take too long getting back so I just walked back the way I came.

Today, when I was finished with the day’s only lesson and got back to my apartment, I prepared to try out the new route. Of course I checked the satellite images on the Google Maps beforehand to plan out exactly what I wanted to do, as I don’t usually jog along a route that I haven’t walked along beforehand because I don’t want to get lost and end up jogging twice as long as I intended.

Everything started out perfectly. The weather was perfect with just the right degree of cloud cover and a temperature just on the cool side of warm, and I reached the Maschsee about half-way through my I-pod playlist just as I’d planned. When I got to the southwest corner to cross the bridge, then run back up the other side of the river I could hardly believe my eyes. It was the most beautiful little slice of Hannover I’ve seen since arriving here 366 days ago. I couldn’t believe that in all that time I still hadn’t ventured there and discovered this.

I just kept following the path, but soon enough I came to a section that didn’t look anything like what I’d expected to see from the satellite images, as it was wide and covered by trees. Still, as long as I knew where the river was I figured I’d be good. But the river soon drifted out of sight and I eventually came to an intersection of paths and bridges all going in different directions with nary a sign to be seen. I took the direction my intuition told me to take and soon found myself jogging in an even more beautiful little area than the last one. Nothing but trees, fields, flowers, even a fenced in area with some horses. Nothing at all to indicate I was still in the middle of a city of half a million people.

I expected to find the river again at some point, but my playlist was already coming to an end by the time I found it and it was a completely unfamiliar section. I considered asking someone for directions but I resisted and pressed on until the playlist was over, I’d jogged about the same amount of time I normally jog, and now I had to play another album which would hopefully take me the rest of the way home. But now that I was officially lost and perhaps going in the wrong direction I decided it would be best to ask someone where I was. I stopped the first guy I saw who was a young man so I figured he spoke English, and I asked him for directions in English which he gave me. Apparently I had to hang a right which would take me to Ricklingen, and from there I could easily find my way back up to Linden, which is where I said I needed to go. Ricklingen? That’s really far south. I must have been going in the wrong direction.

So I hung his right and ran along more awesomely beautiful paths, looking for a road or sign or any indication of civilization whatsoever but couldn’t find any. I eventually came to another intersection and had no idea which way to go, but just then an old lady on a bike rode up. Knowing that old ladies usually don’t speak a word of English I asked her in German for directions to the Maschsee. At this point I just wanted to get somewhere I knew. She very kindly explained which way to go, told me it wasn’t too far, and I thanked her an ran on.

Finally I reached an actual street, Beekestraße, which I’d never walked on before but recognized the name from one of the tram stops I always pass by on my way to Monday and Tuesday lessons. I ran up the road until finally spotting something familiar for the first time in thirty minutes: the Beekestraße tram stop. That’s about six stops south of where I thought I’d be.

The tram was coming as I approached and I had to make a quick decision to get on or continue jogging all the way back. Knowing just how far fucking south I was I decided to chance it. Had I been caught without my wallet and therefore without my pass I would have been in big trouble, but I played the odds and the odds worked out in my favor. I got off one stop before the closest stop to my flat and ran north a bit to arrive, finally, back along the river, a familiar section that I’d expected would be just about the end of my jog. So I finished up and came home, feeling pretty good about the whole experience.

It could have been quite frustrating but it’s such a nice day and the scenery was so fucking gorgeous that frustration was pretty much impossible. I know I’ll have to try again to figure out where I went wrong and how to work it out correctly, but I think I may have discovered a jogging route even better than the two I’ve been taking.

This time next week I’ll be walking around with Krissi. And now I’ve got great new area to take her.

Categories: Personal Tags: , , ,

Monday Motivation

July 21st, 2009 No comments

So after spending all weekend wallowing (somewhat voluntarily) in gloom, I woke up Monday morning to an e-mail from Krissi reassuring me that she’s still planning on coming, and she sounds more resolved than ever. At first I thought, “what shitty timing” because it would have been nice to be happy during the weekend when I could savor it, but I actually realized it was quite alright, as now I could go about my grueling week of work with that extra motivation that the money I’ll be making will be spent on travel, as opposed to boring things like paying off debts.

My first class yesterday turned into a nice discussion about marriage, as I brought in a gay marriage article. The two women in the group got to talking about their own experience in the subject, the older one having divorced after three children. We talked about why there were so many more divorces now than before, and she said she thought it was because now women are more educated, less financially dependent on their husbands, and because they tend to date a lot before getting married, they actually know the other kinds of options that are out there. I put forward a perception I get regarding German couples and asked them if they thought it was right—that the women tend to have more power in their relationships than men do—and they said that was absolutely true. So there’s another bit of confirmation that German girls are just about the most difficult girls in the world. Getting them is hard enough, but keeping them might be even harder, as they’re always looking for something better and they’ve grown up in a culture that tells them they can get more and that they deserve more. I’m a bit conflicted by this, as my feminine side thinks “fuck yeah” and my masculine side thinks “fuck that”.

In my next class, only one guy showed up and I thought it was going to be difficult, but when he spent the first thirty minutes explaining one of his job responsibilities to me, I spent the rest of the class just asking him technical questions and letting him talk. I was surprised because he wasn’t much of a talker when the others were around, but when you get students who will just go on and on about something, that’s a total jackpot because you can just sail through a lesson. And it’s not like you’re slacking either—they actually learn better by talking more than by doing grammar exercises and reading texts and that kind of thing. Unfortunately this guy is much more interested in technical stuff than me, as I usually talk about abstract concepts and political issues, but I had enough basic knowledge to ask him a few technical questions about coal power plants, as he used to work at one. So I got an hour-long lesson in fractured English from a German engineer about how a coal power plant works. Oddly enough I was able to stay interested the whole time. It’s that altered-state-of-consciousness that teaching puts you in—if I was the student I probably wouldn’t have been able to pay attention. At any rate I learned a lot about coal-produced energy and why carbon capture technology is a huge waste of time and money.

The next class consisted of two beginners so it was a bit more difficult, but for the second half of the lesson I just busted out an English-learning board game I ordered online and which has really come in handy a lot over the last weeks. Playing the game has taught me that Germans are sometimes having fun even when they give no indication—I’d be playing the game thinking they were totally bored by it, but at the end they would thank me and say how much they liked the lesson.

As soon as I got home I went out for a jog, this time happy rather than angry, and it was quite pleasant as usual but also a bit more strenuous. Normally when I find myself near other joggers I have to decide whether to slow down a bit and let them get further on, or pick up the pace so I can pass them, as you just don’t want to be running side by side with a stranger—that’s awkward. Unless it’s a black guy who passes me from behind, I almost always choose to pick up the pace. But yesterday a woman merged onto the path just as I was going by her and she was moving at my exact pace. So I ran a little faster, got a bit ahead, and the next thing I knew she was right next to me again. I kept speeding up to get ahead but I’d just naturally slow down and she’d catch up to me again. So eventually I just had to kick into a faster gear and keep up the pace, which I suppose made for better exercise because I had to treat it like a race.

Last night I decided to have a few beers and listen to up-beat music, as I’d been unable to do during the weekend. Although I had an early morning the next day I figured I could get away with it, and it would be good practice anyway for when Krissi arrives and we’ll want to do some casual drinking probably every night. I started early and finished early, getting nice and buzzed but still in bed by 11 p.m. to get a full 8 hours before my alarm went off at 7. I actually don’t think I ever had a better night’s sleep. It was just the right amount of alcohol to keep me unconscious and still able to feel refreshed in the morning, which is quite encouraging. It feels really weird to suddenly be waking up at 7 or 8 every morning, when most of my life the natural wake-up time was 10 or 11, sometimes 12.

I was thinking about that yesterday as I was considering how different my life has become. Even in sunny Santa Barbara, I worked the overnight shift for eight months so most of my waking hours were spent in total darkness, and those were probably the most depressing months I spent there. Four years ago in Frankfurt, during the winter I’d be waking up at 12 or 1 and the sun would set three hours later, so most of my life was in darkness back then and I was just as depressed as ever. Now, I’m going to bed at 11, just an hour after sunset, and waking up at 7, an hour after sunrise. Almost all of my waking hours are in daylight, which might have something to do with my generally positive disposition these days. Still, I miss the darkness and I hope the secret to happiness wasn’t some stupid aspect of biology. But there’s probably something to the correlation between daylight and depression, and getting almost nothing but daylight has got to be healthier than working overnight and getting almost nothing but darkness.

None of my classes today were very interesting, but I was in good spirits for all of them as I expect I’ll be all week. This weekend I’m finally going to Frankfurt, unless I start getting sick again, but in that case I’ll probably just go anyway. It should be really interesting to see all those old familiar places again now that I’ve spent a year in a different city and I can compare and contrast in my mind. When I first got to Hannover I was disappointed by all the ways in which it wasn’t Frankfurt, because I really grew to love Frankfurt in the year I spent there. I won’t know until I go back, but I think I’ve come to love Hannover even more.

Rage Against Ikea

July 15th, 2009 No comments

I recounted in my last personal entry, a very boring one, how my trip to Ikea to buy a couch and have it delivered went with surprisingly little frustration. Of course, I suppose that was just asking for it. I should have knocked on wood or something, because in Germany you can’t do anything without massive amounts of frustration and I should have known better.

So today was delivery day. You’re supposed to wait in your flat from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. but at least I got them to agree to deliver it after 12. That way I would only have to cancel one lesson, thus flushing €54 down the toilet instead of €104. I’d really hoped my first lesson would be cancelled too so I wouldn’t have to worry, because the lesson was of course all the way in fucking Helmstedt, an hour-long train ride away. The lesson ended at 11 but the train didn’t depart until 11:30. So I wouldn’t be getting home until 12:30 but I figured the first 30 minutes out of a 7-hour window was at least a pretty slim chance that they’d come during that time. Ha ha ha.

I was delighted to find that the train from Helmstedt back to Hannover came right on time and everything went according to schedule. We were about ten minutes out of town when my phone beeped, and I saw I had a voice message. Not a missed call—it just went directly to voicemail. I listened to the message and it was definitely one of the delivery guys saying something in the most garbled, unclear German I’ve ever heard—so unclear that I wouldn’t have been able to understand even if I was completely fluent. All I got was “eine Stunde” which means 1 hour. I assumed it meant they’d be there within the hour.

So from that moment on the adrenaline was pumping, and every second that the train took to get back to the station was an eternity. When it finally pulled in I rushed through the station to get to the trams and hopped on the first one back. Three stops to go. It got to the first without incident. The second without any trouble. Almost there. We’re about to pull into my station when…it comes to a grinding halt. All the lights go out. Of fucking course, I think. I’m going to be stuck here underground, literally a few fucking feet away from my stop while the delivery guys come to my flat.

But much to my [unwarranted] relief, we got started just a minute later, pulled a few more feet forward, and I got out. Now I figured I was safe. If they arrive now, I thought, they’ll call me and I’ll tell them I’m just around the corner. I walked out of the station and around the corner to my flat, and saw a big Hertz van pulling away. Could that have been them? No, of course not. I hadn’t gotten a phone call.

I walked back into the flat and heard another large vehicle pulling up outside. That must be them. I started getting to work on clearing a space for the couch, then looked outside again to see that that vehicle had parked on the other side of the street and was bringing material for the annoying construction project they’re doing over there. But just then another, even bigger vehicle pulled up and parked right outside my building. That must be them, I thought, and proceeded to continue clearing the space on my floor, sweeping up the dust and whatnot. I’d expected the doorbell to ring by now. I looked outside and saw that a ramp was being lowered from the back. That’s got to be them. Oh, but it’s just a guy in a wheelchair getting out and rolling across the street to the bank. A minute later they pulled away.

So I finished clearing things up when another vehicle pulled up right outside the door, a gigantic UPS truck. That must be them. It has to be. They’d said an hour and it’s been about an hour. But it wasn’t. The UPS truck pulled away soon after leaving me to scratch my head. Okay, no worries. I would have got a call if they’d come, or they would have at least left a notice in my mailbox saying they’d been here. I listened to the garbled voicemail message two more times but it didn’t get any less indecipherable.

So I ate some lunch and killed some time by writing a stupid blog entry about Sarah Palin. By the time I was done it had been two hours since the voice message and I thought something must be wrong.

I hopped online to try and find a phone number to call and get the status of my delivery. If I could just confirm that they’d come I at least wouldn’t have to be trapped in my flat until 7 waiting for a delivery that might have already come. I scoured the Ikea.de website for a phone number for the transport division but could only find the main Ikea phone number, which was just an over-enthusiastic automated voice talking me through a series of menus that I only half-understood. Ultimately, I got a phone number which I thought was for the transport department but when I called it, they said it was temporarily unavailable.

Fine, I’ll try later. At this point my early 6 a.m. wake-up was catching up to me and I just needed to roll over and take a nap. I got up 45 minutes later and tried the number again, but it was still temporarily unavailable. The only other thing I could think to do was call the secretary at Planeo and see if she could help. She sympathized with my plight because she’s dealt with the Ikea delivery people before and apparently had a similarly hard time. The fact that all I got was a garbled phone message came as no surprise to her. But she called the Ikea number for me and went through all the menus herself, then called me back to translate the menus (turns out I’d understood them well enough on my own anyway), and that I needed to have my order number. I dug through some papers to find the delivery sheet I’d got on Monday with the order number on top, then went through the phone menus again. Once I input the order number, the automated lady said she’d be transferring me to a service agent, then the call abruptly ended. I called the secretary back and said I probably didn’t understand something, gave her the order number, and she said she was in a hurry but she’d try it for me one more time. She called back a few minutes later saying the same thing happened—as soon as she input the order number she was told she was being transferred but then the call ended. She’d tried three times and the same thing happened every time.

But at that point I had the delivery order form which had the phone number for the actual delivery company. I called that and got an actual human being, then struggled to explain my situation in German. All I really had to do was spell my name, then the woman checked the computer and told me that yes, the delivery people had been there already. They had been there when? At 12:30. Yeah, 12:30. I’d gotten back to my flat at 12:31.

She gave me the number of the actual delivery guys to call and see if I could get them to come back today. I called them and they said I had to set up a new appointment for either Friday or Saturday. Saturday? Saturday!? Fucking SATURDAY!?!?!?! You mean I could have just set up a delivery for SATURDAY!? When I’d been at Ikea on Monday and they were setting up a delivery date I thought that no matter what I’d have to cancel a lesson because nobody fucking works on Saturday and I figured if nobody else made deliveries on Saturday then of course Ikea wouldn’t. But apparently they do. If I’d just asked for a Saturday delivery I wouldn’t have had to cancel anything at all and I would have saved myself all that time, money, and frustration. The Germans certainly hadn’t helped, but it was ultimately a result of my own stupid assumption.

So I told them to come back Saturday, which means I’ll be stuck in my flat until they come and knowing my luck they’ll probably wait until 6:59.

Anyway, after that phone call I could no longer contain the rage. I hadn’t been this angry since T-Punkt called me to say they had my passport after I’d just spend the weekend in Berlin going through enormous amounts of bullshit to get my lost passport replaced. They had come at twelve fucking thirty!!! That’s EXACTLY when I’d got home. And they hadn’t left a note or anything. They hadn’t given me a phone call. If they’d just fucking CALLED me I could have said “I’m just around the corner” but instead they just left without a word and figured it was up to me to figure out that they’d been there and to set up another time for them to bring me MY stuff, stuff I’d already PAID for. Twelve fucking thirty….unfuckingbelievable.

When there’s that much anger flowing through your veins there’s only one thing you can do. I shoved my I-pod cord into the laptop, threw together a quick playlist of Rage Against the Machine Songs, tossed on some jogging clothes, then ran outside into the scorching heat to sprint down to the Maschsee and run that shit out of my system.

Of course I was completely exhausted after the first ten minutes, as I’d used up most of my energy in the initial sprint and during the “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me”s. I didn’t think I’d make it all the way around and back, but I was listening to Rage, and no matter how drained you are it’s physically impossible to stop running when you’ve got Rage blasting through your ears—unless you hit a traffic light in which case your only recourse is to pace back and forth giving everyone around you evil looks as you wait for the damned light to finally change, the sprint onwards.

I got back to my block just as “Ashes in the Fall” reached its end, then I walked back to the flat, found I was still quite pissed off, dying to just have a smoke and calm the fuck down already but first I had to shower and stretch and then write a goddamned journal entry about it because fuck knows I won’t be able to rest easy until this is fully documented. And now that it is….

Ah, that’s refreshing. It’s all so very silly. That’s perfectly clear right now, but to be honest I was aware of that the whole time. Throughout the whole ordeal I knew in the back of my mind just how trivial this was and how there are far better things to get angry about.

Balls II

May 19th, 2009 No comments

I was ready to go jogging at 2:00 today, but I got a call from Alan about going to Berlin this weekend. He’d called me last night and said he might go as early as Wednesday evening because none of us have lessons on Thursday or Friday, and I said I’d like to come but probably not until Friday. I had called him earlier in the day to find out if he’d made any definite plans yet but he hasn’t. At any rate, after the call I took some time to go on-line and buy a train ticket, which takes awhile when you’re price-hunting, which I was. But I ended up getting a really good deal, a round-trip to Berlin from Friday to Sunday for just under €50, when normally it’s over €100.

But once that was done I was ready to head out. I was going to do the Maschsee again, but I figured I was ready to go back to the river/park run again, elongated as it may be from the old point of origin. So quite spontaneously, I decided to do that.

About five minutes into the run the thought popped into my head that it would be pretty funny if I saw the girl from yesterday again, the one I’d tried to stop and say hello to but who roller-bladed away without a word. And not twenty seconds later—I’m completely serious—who should I see running along the path towards me but the same fucking girl! The monumental improbability of the coincidence blew my mind to a level of orgasmic flabbergastation, and I’m still reeling from it. I’ve only seen this girl a few times here and there around the city, but not one single day after actually trying to approach her, there she is again, and had I not left at the exact time as I had and had I gone to the Maschsee instead of the river, I wouldn’t have seen her at all! It’s almost like she’s some kind of Tyler Durden-esque figment of my imagination that keeps appearing whenever I think of her.

But there she was, running straight up to me. My brain was still in the grips of the unlikelihood of it all, but as she passed I looked directly at her, gave her a huge grin, and ran on by. Her eyes met mine as she passed, and I’m positive there was a smile on her face as well. She had recognised me. And when I smiled at her, she smiled back.

That instantly turned yesterday’s feeling on its head, as while I had felt slightly proud of the balls it had taken me to do that I still felt like a fool having undergone the world’s fastest rejection-on-wheels. But all that is overshadowed by what happened today. Now it’s completely certain that I’ve made an impression on her. Whenever she sees me in the future she will recognise me, and if I smile and wave to her she may just return the gesture.

Of course, I had planned to wave and say hello the very next time I saw her only yesterday, but I hadn’t expected the next chance to come the very next day! So in the few seconds I had to make my move, all I did was smile. And at first I kicked myself a little for not having done more, but the more I reflected on it the more I realised that my intuition had been smarter than my brain. Had I smiled and said “hello” it might have been creepy. It being only one day after the first encounter, she may have got the wrong idea—that I might be stalking her or something. And she almost certainly wouldn’t have waved back and I’d have felt twice-rejected. But by merely smiling and running on I accomplished two things—with the smile I acknowledged my awareness of her and at my silly behaviour from yesterday, and by running on rather than stopping and trying to get her to talk to me again I proved I’m not some crazy obsessive stalker-type guy. Just a smile was the best thing I could have done. Next time I’ll actually wave and say hello, now that she knows I’m not coming after her.

In other news, last night I had yet another dream in which Jessi was by my side and very much in love with me, and naturally it felt fantastic. That never happens with the other girls, which is because they almost never gave my subconscious any positive energy to work with. Jessi on the other hand, during the brief time in which I knew her, gave me lots of care and kindness and…dare I say it…love. Certainly not “love” in the sense that I love(d) her, but little gestures borne out of a loving heart. And so when she appears in my dreams it’s like an echo of that love that she really gave to me. And perhaps a little bit of love from her was enough to last a lifetime. Such a pathetically romantic notion, but I like it.

I suppose that’s the kind of person I’ve chosen to be, and I have no regrets. I am a pathetic romantic, and completely unapologetic about it.

Categories: Personal Tags: , , ,

Balls at the Maschsee

May 18th, 2009 No comments

Living in a city of half a million people, you wouldn’t think that you’d see some of the same strangers again and again by chance, especially because whenever you’re specifically looking out for someone who caught your eye (Lu in Frankfurt, Bike-girl in Hannover) you never see them again. For months, the only person I noticed seeing on several different occasions in several different parts of the city was a big fat guy with a Hitler moustache, whom I only noticed because he’s just so hard to miss. As for beautiful women, there have been almost no multiple sightings.

One girl I do see on a regular basis is one I mentioned awhile ago, a girl I noticed at the Helmstedt train-station whom I thought might have been Petra. It turns out she wasn’t Petra, but I continued and still continue to see her whenever I leave Helmstedt at the normal time on Friday. I’ve even resolved several times in my head to approach her, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it, mostly because by the time I’m heading home on Friday I’m pretty exhausted and I just want to board the train and take a nap, not exert all kinds of effort by trying make this girl’s acquaintance. In any case, last Thurday I was thinking about her at a random time while walking through the city and I resolved in my head to just fucking say hello to her the next time I see her. But by some extraordinary coincidence, only minutes later I spotted her walking along the street in my direction with a boyfriend at her side! I was both disappointed and extremely relieved. Now that I know she’s taken I have a damned good reason not to approach her.

That’s a bit of background to the completely unrelated story of what happened today. I was jogging along the Maschsee, when about halfway through the run I spotted a beautiful girl on roller-blades heading in my direction. Spotting beautiful girls while jogging is by no means rare—it happens at least half-a-dozen to several-dozen times every run. But as she got closer and passed me by I noticed that this was a girl I’d actually noticed not once but twice before, in totally different parts of the city. She’s one of the only two girls I remember spotting more than once, the other being this drop-dead gorgeous Arab girl whom I’ve seen a couple of times near where I used to live at Goetheplatz, a heavily Arab/Turkish area. The girl at the Maschsee was white but with brown hair and eyes with the loveliest face atop a perfect body. Her face is such that it just feels like I know her somehow, which is probably why I’ve noticed her three times now. The face just exudes this feeling like she must be a really nice, cool person.

After she passed me by I started thinking about what would have happened if I’d stopped her and started talking to her. This was, coincidentally, the same part of the Maschsee where the infamous bike-girl incident took place way back when I first arrived in Hannover. I felt almost like I’d made the same mistake twice. But she was on roller-blades and I was on foot, and I knew it was possible that I’d see her coming around again before long. I ran through all kinds of scenarios in my imagination about going up to her and asking her if she speaks English and if she has a boyfriend and telling her I’ve seen her around before and I just had to take a chance and ask her on a date because she was too beautiful not to try. Each scenario ended with her telling me she had a boyfriend but at least being somewhat flattered that some American guy would be so taken with her that he’d actually interrupt his jog to try and talk to her.

After about ten minutes of all these fantasies, while keeping my eye open for her to come around again, fully resolved to approach her if she did, I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw her actually coming around again. My heart stopped for a second as I spotted her way down the path, and for a split second I considered forgetting the whole idea. But this was the Maschsee, damn it, and I wasn’t going to let yet another chance to meet a beautiful girl slip through my fingers. Plus, all the endorphins from running were flowing thus giving me this artificial sense of self-confidence. I stopped running, took out my I-pod earphones, and waved her down as soon as she was within speaking range. “Excuse me,” I said, and she looked right at me with those beautiful eyes but said nothing as she passed. It only took an instant for reality to diverge from imagination, and as she rolled on by I just said, “Hello,” and turned after to run alongside her but she was already rolling away and not slowing down or looking back. I realised I must have frightened her. It should have been obvious that some strange guy approaching you out of nowhere would be frightening. It was silly of me to expect otherwise. But I just turned around, remarked that “I tried” to myself, tossed my earphones back in and finished the jog.

I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. I suppose I should believe that it’s completely up to me how to react. I can either be proud of myself for having grown a pair for once or feel shitty about the rejection, although it wasn’t so much of a “rejection” as it was a girl running away from a strange guy she’d never met before. I know that if I ever see her again, I’ll smile and wave to her, and maybe she’ll recognise me and stop to find out who I am now that I’ve made some kind of impression, albeit a creepy one. Or maybe she’ll turn around and run away again. They always run away. And when they’re on roller-blades it makes it a lot easier.

In any case, I can at least take pride in having somewhat made up for my shameful pussy-behaviour with the bike-girl way back when, and reinforce my opinion that it’s not entirely my fault I’m alone. If I was a really hot guy or if I had any kind of aura of attractiveness whatsoever, that girl might have stopped and said hello to me. But I’m not attractive at all so she just kept skating. And as I always do, I just let her go, turned around and ran the other way.

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