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Posts Tagged ‘maschsee’

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.

Future Into Focus

April 14th, 2010 No comments

I woke up yesterday morning to find two messages from Japan in my inbox. One was from Kathy at the James School, wanting to schedule an interview with me for 8:30 the following morning via Skype. The other was from Yuki, the Japanese girl I used to work with at the Doubletree in Santa Barbara and whom I’d contacted last week to try and get back in touch with to possible see her again once I go to Japan. Having not heard back from her I’d concluded that she must not have liked me very much and had no desire to be friends, which naturally depressed me a little because I was very fond of her. But she actually replied, and it seems she just doesn’t check her Facebook very often. Unfortunately she’s going to be leaving Japan this year and moving to her fiance’s home country, so I probably won’t see her, but it still felt nice that she bothered to respond.

The message from Yuki and the scheduled interview with the James School were enough to offset the melancholy of the past few days as well as the depression over the recent drama between Corey and his now ex-girlfriend with which I’ve been getting emotionally wrapped up. That is definitively over now—he called me last night to tell me he was boarding a plane back to Texas—so it’s really depressing to think about that, but luckily for me I’ve actually had my own life situation to focus on for a change.

I was in a relatively good mood all day yesterday, off-set only by a minor incident barely worth mentioning that happened during my jog. That girl I tried to talk to at the Maschsee that one day and whom I subsequently saw and smiled at on my jog the next day is apparently still around, and I’ve actually spotted her quite a few times without bothering to mention it here. But the last time I saw her jogging, I smiled at her and thought she smiled back, so when I saw her jogging in my direction yesterday I smiled and actually said “hello” but this time she completely ignored me and seemed to actually jog slightly further away from me as she passed by. So that kind of pissed me off, as there goes all my silly hope of somehow ending up with her by building familiarity through random sightings. Oh well.

It doesn’t matter now though, as this Japan thing is looking like more of a concrete possibility than ever. I just finished my interview with Kathy from the James School and while I may have stumbled a bit over a few of her questions, I think I presented myself well enough. Nothing is going be decided at this early stage, but she just wanted to meet me and get a better idea of who I was, as well as give me a lot more specific information about the James School and what teaching there would entail. It sounds even better to me now than it did before, as it seems I’d be teaching a wide variety of classes from really little kids to older retired people, as well as the kind of business-English lessons I’m doing now. It also seems Id’ be teaching about 20 hours a week, which is about what I’m doing now, only I’d actually be earning a salary instead of getting paid by-the-lesson. The most encouraging thing about it was to hear that the James School offers an interest-free loan for new teachers should they ask for one, so even if I haven’t saved up quite enough money by the time I move out there, I can still expect to be able to survive and just take less money from my paycheck from the first six months.

She’s going to send me some additional information and then contact me again in a few months once the situation for September/October looks clearer. Once she knows of a position opening up she’ll contact me again to see if I’m still interested (I will be) and at that point she’ll look deeper into my qualifications, ask for references and such. I’m quite sure Frank, the owner of Planeo, will be willing to provide her an excellent reference, unless he wants to sabotage me in order to keep me here. In any case, I think my chances are pretty good.

I’ll be looking at Hannover through slightly different eyes from now on, knowing that in all likelihood I won’t be here for much longer than half a year. This will almost certainly be my last spring and last summer. So rather than feel like I’m tired of this place and ready to leave, I’ll feel more inclined to appreciate it while I’m still here. And there’s certainly plenty about my present circumstances to appreciate. But the near future is also starting to look pretty good as well.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

Broken Computer Adventures

December 19th, 2009 No comments

On Thursday afternoon, my computer suddenly and without warning decided to get itself massively fucked up. It was just a routine System Restart, which I do several times a day, but suddenly it wouldn’t boot up. Some file was missing or corrupt. This was a massive blow to my ability to…well…live. Almost everything I do at home short of sleeping, cooking, and using the bathroom involves my computer. Without it I’m not only cut-off from the world of information normally at my fingertips, but I can’t even read documents, write documents, or watch any of my downloaded entertainment.

A damaged computer in my life nowadays is even more debilitating than a damaged car used to be when I lived in the states. So when the computer goes down, fixing it becomes the primary focus. That evening I went out to an internet cafe to figure out what I needed to do, and found that I wouldn’t be able to do anyting without a Windows XP CD like the kind that originally comes with the PC. But I don’t have such a CD. I called my Dad to find out if he had one and to make a long story short he’s shipping one out by FedEx which should arrive on Monday.

But I can’t fucking wait until Monday, so first thing Friday morning I called Planeo to find out if they had any XP CDs I could use. It turns out they did, and because my only class of the day was cancelled that gave me plenty of time to try and take care of the problem.

It also just happened to be the day of the years’ first snowfall, which was actually quite a happy coincidence because of the all the running around outside I’d be doing throughout the day. I got the full snow experience, starting with my walk to Planeo.

I tried their CD, and it seemed to be working until I was prompted for a password that I didn’t have. An online chat with a Dell agent told me that without the password, the only solution was to reformat that hard drive, thus losing all my data. The only way to save the data would be to take it to a specialist.

The secretaries at Planeo helped me find a nearby place called PC Homeservice and I called around noon to ask if I could take my PC in as soon as possible. The soonest possible time was 15:00, so I waited around at Planeo and used their internet until about 14:30, then made the fifteen minute walk to the place through the now heavily falling snow.

When I got there, there was no one inside. The sign on the door said they were closed from 12:00 to 15:00, so I waited 20 minutes out in the freezing cold until 15:05 but nobody came, so I called the number again and the guy didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. Whoever I’d made the 15:00 appointment with must have forgot or not told anyone or something. Now he said he was on the way.

I should have asked him how long he though it would be, but I just assumed he couldn’t be far so I waited some more. It was nice being out in the snow anyway, at least at first. But after awhile I had to start walking up and down the block to keep warm and soon enough even that wasn’t enough. The snowfall was no longer enjoyable because I was freezing my ass off.

At 15:30 I called again and the guy said it was taking awhile because of the snow, and it might be another half-hour. So I walked back to Planeo where Michaela made me a tea to warm me up and contacted the guy telling him to call the office when he was ready for me. It was 16:25 when he called, and it was now getting dark. Back into the snow and I finally got to this place, hoping that fixing it or at least backing up the data wouldn’t take too long.

But the guy said he didn’t have enough time to fix it today and I should leave it there overnight. Okay, well fuck. Fine.

I then had to decide how to enjoy my night without a computer. I’d planned to buy a cheap DVD player but would it really be worth it for just one night? With it I’d be guaranteed to have a fun night and something to occupy me over the next days if somehow the guy is unable to fix it, but it would cost me money that I can’t really afford to be throwing away right now. On the other hand, if I didn’t buy it the weekend would be guaranteed to pretty much suck.

I went to the store in the center of town where I know they sell DVD players, fought my way through the Christmas-shopping crowds, and found that the cheapest DVD player available was for €35. I’d had €30 in my mind as my limit. Decision time. I paced around the store for awhile trying to decide but I couldn’t. I went back and picked up the box and examined it, still not sure I wanted it. I brought it to the check-out counter and stood in line, still trying to decide. I paid for it and left the store, still indecisive.

But now I had the thing, so the next thing to do was rent some German DVDs, seeing as how the regional-code issue would prevent me from watching any of the American DVDs I brought with me to Germany. I’d checked the internet at Planeo, and according to Google the closest place was in the mall, so I had to enter the awful Friday-evening-Christmas-shopper-packed mall and find the place. But it turned out the place only sold video games—they didn’t rent DVDs at all. But the dude at the counter, who luckily spoke great English, gave me some bad directions to the nearest Videothek, which was apparently in the Hauptbahnhof. I couldn’t find it, but I decided to give up anyway and just watch Das Boot, which I borrowed from Oliver a long time ago and just haven’t yet been in the mood to watch. Tonight would be the night.

I’m so bored writing this that I won’t even bother describing the events of the night. All I’ll say is that the DVD player turned out to be a fantastic purchase. To my unbelievably pleasant surprise, it not only played German DVDs, but files from DVD-Rs, which means I can use it to watch any of the TV shows I have saved to discs, which is a hell of a lot of entertainment. And not only THAT, but it actually plays American DVDs! No regional code bullshit at all. So even if the computer isn’t fixed, I’ve got plenty of entertainment options.

Anyway, I unfortunately got too drunk and tired too quickly to finish Das Boot, which was really good but I couldn’t stop myself from dozing off. So that will have to be finished tonight. So at least I’ll have something to look forward to even if the computer isn’t fixed. Speaking of which, it’s almost noon so it should be fixed by now. I gave him my number and told him to call me when it was done, but he hasn’t. I guess I’ll try calling him now.

Huh. Well, he says it’s done. Whether that means it’s fixed or if the data is stored, I’ll find out soon. Time to go.

…and now I’m back at my apartment, finishing up this entry on a keyboard on which the z and the y are in their proper places. When I picked up the computer from the guy, a different guy from last night, he seemed to have a strange attitude towards me. I don’t know if that’s just how he is, or if he perhaps took some time to peruse my files and found all my pervy pictures. Not that I really care, I’ve got nothing illegal on there. Highly questionable, yes. But not illegal.

Anyway, I took a nice scenic walk back home because it’s such a beautiful fucking day with the sun now shining on the freshly fallen snow, and I passed by the Maschsee to find that its surface is frozen, something I didn’t even see last year because I didn’t go there at all during Winter, so that was cool. Ironically, as I walked there my I-pod suddenly crapped out and wouldn’t start again. Just as one thing is fixed, another thing breaks. Perfect.

But it was probably just the coldness and moisture fucking with the circuitry because it appears to be working now. When I turned the computer on it didn’t work right away either, and I was starting to think I might have to go and demand my money back, but it was probably just the moisture. After having some time to heat up a bit, it’s now back to normal. I don’t know how they did it, but everything is exactly as it was before. Not one file out of place. It was the best outcome I could have hoped for. And now that I’ve had to go without it for a couple of days, I have a greatly renewed appreciation for how sweet it is to have this thing.

And now that it’s working again, I’m going to leave it here while I go back out for another nice walk in the snow.

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.

Company

August 25th, 2009 No comments

Everything that could have possibly gone wrong yesterday didn’t. The only snafu in the entire ordeal of Krissi’s arrival was that her train got delayed 40 minutes coming in. Having waited several months for this to happen, an additional 40 minutes was hardly a big deal. But at about 12:30 her train rolled in to the station and I was there to meet her on the platform for our much-awaited reunion.

From the station we took the 15-minute walk back to my place for her to put her stuff down, take a shower, and have a quick bite to eat. By the time we stepped out after about an hour, she’d already been the person to spend the longest time visiting me at my place, with the possible exception of Alan helping me install the blinds, but as I was only half-way moved in at that point it doesn’t count.

We then proceeded to do exactly what I’d had in mind for what to do on her first day here. We headed over to the Rathaus and up to the dome at the top to check out the spectacular aerial view of Hannover. This time, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so the city looked particularly beautiful glistening in the sunlight. I’d been worried that because the weather was so perfect last week it couldn’t possibly continue into this week, but it ended up being one of the nicest days of the summer so far.

After leaving the tower I brought her back around the Rathaus and through the nice little park they’ve got there, then across the street to the Maschsee where we stood on the edge for awhile looking at the giant catfish and swans. Krissi grabbed a coffee at the nearby beverage stand and we took a bench for a few moments while she drank it, until a couple of bees who seemed to be craving a sugarless black coffee for some inexplicable reason (perhaps they were caffeine-fiends) wouldn’t leave her alone, and we had to get up and walk on.

We walked halfway around the lake until we reached a nice little secluded corner where we could sit on the edge of a circular stone structure and look out at the rest of the lake. At that point it was 4:00, which means it’s socially acceptable to start drinking. (They have a phrase, “Kein bier vor vier” which means “No beer before four”.) I busted out a couple of the beers I’d brought along with my back-pack, we said “prost” and began drinking. After a while sitting there in that nice spot we got up and walked the rest of the way down the path until reaching the area at the top of the lake and ordering a couple of Hefeweizens from the beer stand there.

Once that was finished we both really needed to pee, and since there were no public restrooms around we just took the 15-minute walk back to my place and relieved ourselves there. Afterwards I suggested we go out to eat, and I took her to the Café Konrad where Mark and his girlfriend had taken Alan and I on his last day. I hadn’t eaten there then but the food looked excellent so I’d had it in my mind to go back there with Krissi. It was the first time I’ve eaten out in a restaurant since Bostel last month. The food was quite delicious and the evening weather couldn’t have been more perfect and comfortable.

After that we headed over to the Dublin Inn where we continued to sit outside and drink beer, until we decided to go in and pay and then take a walk around. But at that point, now that the sun had finally set completely, the pub was starting to fill in and a Karaoke thing was going on in the back room. We remained out front waiting to pay, but before we could a British guy came up to us to initiate a little chat. He was apparently with a group of roadies for Coldplay who are touring Europe now and have a show this week in Hannover. The guy was obviously more interested in her, and when he asked us if we were together I didn’t bother lying and said that we weren’t. He asked us why not and said we should be and that kind of thing, which I guess was his weird way of flirting with her. All this was strong evidence to support my hypothesis that it’s going to be much much easier for me to meet people at bars when I’m traveling with a woman than it would be if I were alone.

We were ready to leave but he insisted on buying us both a drink, so we politely accepted and had one last beer, although he disappeared into the Karaoke room as we drank it. When we finished we left and took a nice little walk through night-time Hannover, something I almost never do and haven’t done since the late Winter when it still got dark very early.

When we got back to my place I put on some music and for some reason we opened up a couple of more very unnecessary beers. I woke up this morning with about as bad of a hangover as I ever get, which isn’t all that bad but still annoying, and now I’m writing this entry before I leave for class in an hour.

All in all I’d have to say it was quite an ideal day. Going over all that we actually talked about would take way too long and be rather pointless, but while we spent a lot of time telling personal stories I also spoke at length about politics and teaching English and whatnot. It felt great to have someone to talk to who was actually interested, even in the minute little details of my English lessons. It’s a bit more satisfying than writing online journal entries that nobody responds to.

And now it just feels weird to be here, in the same old apartment, ready to go about my same old Tuesday routine (though luckily Frau Suhr cancelled so I only have one lesson to go to today) but now with somebody else to accompany me. I’m not sure the full extent of how different life will be over the next couple of months has hit me yet, but we’ll see. I have no reason to doubt that it’ll be a really nice time.

The Kindness of Strangers

August 20th, 2009 No comments

So that “high” the other day turned out to be nothing more than a runner’s high, which slowly faded throughout the afternoon into what was only a mildly pleasant mood. In an attempt to boost that mood I decided to actually go outside after dinner for an evening walk down the Maschsee, where I’d sip on some beer, listen to music, and think of things to come. I’ve done this twice before and the place was fairly clear on a weekend evening. I haven’t been able to go for the past three weeks because there’s been a “Maschsee Fest” every night with all kinds of beer stands and live music stages spread out all over the place. I might have gone to check that out while it lasted but having no one to go with I didn’t bother. But now that the area was nice and peaceful again I decided to go take advantage.

Apparently everyone else had the same idea, because practically every bench was occupied. The only free benches all had something wrong with them like a missing plank of wood that made sitting down terribly uncomfortable. Plus, there were people less than fifteen meters to each side of you—well within my comfort zone for just chilling out alone. So I kept on walking until I reached the recently discovered path leading to the river, and walked up along the path which was a bit more deserted. As the sun set behind the trees lining the river I felt pretty good. It wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as I’d envisioned but I had no regrets about doing it.

Yesterday I had the whole day off. I woke up again in fairly good spirits and spent the morning taking care of some little things like grocery shopping, then around noon I got to the task of cleaning the apartment. I swept the floors, cleaned out the sink and the bathroom, everything but my rug. The last time I cleaned my rug I asked the black lady who lives downstairs if she had a vacuum cleaner I could borrow. She said she lent it to another neighbor, and asked that neighbor for me if I could use it. That neighbor did let me use it, so I figured I’d try her again.

Not knowing whether she was home, I rang her doorbell and waited a minute, then she opened the door and I could tell immediately that I was bothering her. But I was already there, so I just went ahead and said, “Entschulding [sorry], kann ich ihre Staubsauger benutzen [can I borrow your vacuum]?” And she just said, “Nein” and closed the door.

Now, a normal human being would just shrug that off and five minutes later it would all be completely forgotten, but for some reason this lodged itself firmly in my craw and completely shattered the emotional framework of the rest of the day. I’d planned to go out for a walk to further explore the new territory when it was all finished, but now instead of feeling good I was feeling ashamed and humiliated, embarrassed and guilty for having bothered my neighbor. Was this some kind of German-culture thing that I hadn’t yet learned—that it’s totally rude and unacceptable to ask your neighbor for a favor? The black lady had seemed perfectly willing to help but she was black—not German. Perhaps I was way out of line.

Knowing how my brain works I knew I couldn’t just go out for a nice walk now, as this two-second incident was just going to be cycling around my mind over and over. It was the only face-to-face social interaction I had all day not counting the supermarket check-out people, so there was nothing else running through my mind. Not even an e-mail from Krissi or Corey or anybody. Just the neighbor slamming the door in my face.

In an attempt to salvage the good mood by adding some real social interaction on top of that, I called my grandparents and had a nice chat with my grandma. That felt nice except for hearing her express her serious concern about Obama’s health plan and telling me I should watch more Fox News. I didn’t even try to sway her opinion as I know my grandparents and at this point their opinions are un-swayable. If I couldn’t convince them that the Iraq war was a bad idea there was no way I’d convince them that Obama isn’t really turning America into a Stalinist dictatorship. I did, however, make sure that she didn’t believe any of this “death panel” nonsense and was surprised to hear that she hadn’t even heard about that. She only watches Bill O’Reilly apparently, not Glenn Beck, and I guess O’Reilly just doesn’t mention anything that might make conservatives look bad to the more reasonable-minded conservatives. Anyway, the political bullshit aside it was a nice conversation and gave my mood that needed bounce to get me out to go for that walk.

I planned my route using the GoogleMaps satellite imagery, then took the tram to get off at the Beekestraße stop from which I’d walk around a few lakes and then walked straight back north until I reached the river and eventually my apartment. Of course, the satellite image always makes it look much more simple than it really is, and after a really nice beginning in which I walked down along the side of one of the big lakes, I found myself at a road that I hadn’t expected to emerge onto. I walked along the road a bit and took the next path northward, figuring that as long as I kept going north along this path I’d eventually come to somewhere familiar. I continued along the same direction of the same path, trying to keep the lake in view but losing it behind the trees, then coming to another lake on the other side of me where every so often a path would go down to the banks where there was often a German or group of Germans swimming, often in the nude. Only guys, naturally. So I stopped looking down towards the banks after awhile.

I kept following the same path in what I assumed was the same direction but at one point I noticed the sun was on the other side of me. Eventually it occurred to me that I was definitely heading south now, and that the road I’d just crossed was the road I’d emerged out on about a half hour earlier. Somehow I’d gotten turned around and lost every inch of progress I’d made during that time.

The good mood was pretty much completely dead at that point, but I just turned around and walked back, trying a different path and making sure at all times to keep the sun on my left. It was a long, long, long walk through what turned out to be a pretty hot day, and while the scenery was undeniably nice it was tainted by frequently coming to areas where large groups of Germans were out sunbathing by the lakes, many of them in the nude. For a good ten minutes I found myself walking behind a stark naked old guy just walking along the path without a care in the world, and as much as I tried to avert my gaze the image of his ass is now firmly burned in my brain. One of these areas must have been a designated nude area because just about everyone there was naked (except the women of course) and while I couldn’t help but glance over to see if there were in fact any naked beautiful women, all I got was an eye-full of old men’s penises so I didn’t spend too much time looking and tried my damndest to keep my glance straight ahead.

At any rate, it was hot and I had no fucking idea where I was and all I could think about was my neighbor slamming the door in my face and old men’s penises. By the time I finally reached my new jogging path and thus familiar territory I was so fucking tired and ready to be done with this but I still had about 45 minutes left of walking. I was listening to happy music on my I-pod and every now and then during a good part of a good song I’d look around at the gorgeous scenery and get a nice little moment in, but the overall feeling was just one of tiredness and being pissed off that there were so many fucking people out and about. I took that walk through the greenest area on the map in the hopes of feeling like I was out in nature and away from everyone but while a few little sections of the path were nice and isolated, I was mostly surrounded by people the entire time.

The fucking vacuum cleaner incident stuck with me all night long invading my brain, and naturally this morning it was the first place my mind went and I got up early just to get it fucking written down and hopefully out of my system. I can hardly believe what a sensitive bitch I am sometimes and it’s really fucking annoying. All that happened was a neighbor impolitely refused a request—it’s such a non-issue, so not big of a deal, but because I’m so isolated and I’ve got no one around to just give me a reassuring, “fuck that bitch, who cares?” it has a hugely disproportionate affect on my state of mind.

At any rate, once I get to class and talk to some nice Germans and put some additional social interaction between that and the present moment then things will perhaps improve. But at least I don’t care at this point what my mood is. I guess mostly I’m uneasy about how unbelievably beautiful the weather has been this week, because you never get two weeks in a row of weather like this in Germany and it’s probably going to be cold, rainy and shitty when Krissi comes. Ah, pessimism. It’s so much more natural to me.

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: , , ,

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.

Weekend In Hannover

June 2nd, 2009 No comments

Compared to last weekend’s crazy adventures in Berlin, this past weekend was rather lame, but still completely enjoyable. It was another holiday weekend, Pfingsten, which I think is the celebration of Ascension. Basically, another excuse to hold festivals and drink beer. There was a lot going on around the Maschsee and in the park, which made jogging a bit more challenging with all the crowd-dodging I had to do at some points, but it was still a nice atmosphere compared to the winter months when there’s nothing going on at all. The streets may be more crowded thanks to the warm weather, but at least the city feels alive.

Just before going to sleep on Sunday night I got an e-mail from Krissi outlining her summer plans, which end with her flying out to Germany to meet me. I’ve been trying to call her with a new phone plan I found that lets me make international calls for 4 cents a minute, but I haven’t been calling at the right time. I got another e-mail from her in the middle of the day Monday, and I tried giving her a call but it must have been the last thing she did before going to sleep. I e-mailed her some information about plane tickets in case I couldn’t get in touch with her, but she replied later on, probably first thing in the morning for her, letting me know a good time to call. So I’ll be calling her later today, first thing in the morning for her, and hopefully making these plans even more firm. When she first threw out the suggestion of actually coming out here and traveling with me I didn’t really expect it to happen, but it’s looking like it actually will, and I’ve given up trying not to get my hopes up. Traveling around Europe with Krissi has the potential to turn out to be one of the best times in my life, and it blows my mind that it might actually happen.

Anyway, on Monday I did my normal routine of random crap in the morning and jogging in the early afternoon, but before chilling out at home, I called my grandmother with the new phone plan and had a nice talk with her. After that I played video games until I got hungry, then I decided to go out to a nearby Döner Kebab shop for a nice big dinner. Walking to the shop turned out to be actually more enjoyable than the delicious Turkish dinner itself, so shortly after eating I decided to go back out again for another walk, this time back down the Maschsee where things would be calming down from the weekend madness.

This was around 7:30, just as late afternoon faded into evening, so plenty of people were still out and about but not nearly as many as before. When I got there I decided to have a beer and smoke one of the cigarettes I still have left over from Berlin. So I went to the little food stand there and bought a ridiculously over-priced Beck’s, then set on the side wall along the water and stared at the reflection of the sinking sun as I indulged in those mild pleasures. I realised for the first time, as I’ve never looked directly into the water there before, that the Maschsee is filled with giant blue fishes, bigger than almost any fish I’ve ever seen except in the Caribbean. There are also a lot of ducks that swim right up to you because I guess lots of humans toss them food, and ducks are always fun to watch. At any rate, it was one of the most enjoyable beer + cigarette sessions I’ve ever had. I’ll probably walk down to the Maschsee to drink a beer in the evening far more often now, though I’ll save some money by bringing my own. But it certainly is nice to live in a place where public drinking is not only legal, but in certain places like the Maschsee it’s actually normal.

So the weekend in Hannover turned out to be quite pleasant, if not all that exciting. This summer I definitely need to take more advantage of the great things I’ve got right here while saving up money for traveling in the early Fall. That works out pretty well for me in terms of Alan and Amanda as well, as those two are going off on a crazy travel-journey of their own from the end of June until August, through all the –stans (Khazakstan, Uzbekistan, etc.) and China and India, and I’m pretty jealous but at least I’ve got my own crazy travel-adventures to look forward to and with them gone I won’t have as many opportunities to go away on weekends and spend lots of money. Sadly, Alan will be going home to Canada after that so I probably won’t see him again after this month, but that’s probably the way it’ll go for me throughout my world travels—meeting people and losing them. Of course, that’s how things seem to have gone in my entire life so far anyway. At least there are a few people I’ll never lose. I’m back on speaking terms with Corey, and with a visit from Krissi to look forward to in August, I’ve got absolutely no reason to feel lonely or depressed.

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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