Archive for the ‘music’ Category

The Time Between

February 18, 2010

There’s a reason I don’t like modern (non-serious) music.

I always sum it up in the sentence, “It moves me too quickly.” People puzzle at that, generally. But it’s true. I don’t like how the simplicity and the brevity both have this control over me – this stirring emotional quality which is over in a few minutes’ time. It’s mean.

So there’s me, standing in the kitchen of my dad’s house, with a cup of tea in my hand – something which I’d longed after and so highly praised when in Germany – rummaging around in my jeans. I slide out the campus card from Heidelberg university and read the words “Ruprecht-Karls-UNIVERSITÄT HEIDELBERG” and “Service für Studierende“. That, coupled with the crappy music radio 1’s pumping out in the background (needless to say, je ne suis pas un fan de radio un (… French is awful)), moves me. I’m standing there, thumbing this plastic card, slightly bluened by its being in my jeans’ pocket, but only on the one side. STUDENTENWERK HEIDELBERG. Anstalt des öffentlichen Rechts. The genitive. The capitals. The German.

I turn it over, some green advert for some local concern. The Studentenwerk. In allen Mensen & Cafés des Studentenwerks. Frischste Zutaten. Eigene Herstellung. Biologischer Anbau. Regionale Produkte. Dative plural (+n), genitive (+s). Superlative, plural adjective. Feminine noun, masculine noun. Plural adjective.

I thumb this side for a bit too. Bluer around the edges. The strong German print on the right.

English voices on the radio.


So it’s the Time Between. I’ve finished in Germany. Heidelberg flew past like a blur. 6 months, 7, I sometimes counted in my head. August the 10th, last year. February the 14th, Valentine’s Day, this year. That sounds like a long time. August’s in the middle of the year. February’s the other side of celebration. But it flew. Just like they said it would, it flew. I had a different attitude to the entire experience after Xmas and NY. Obviously. I was returning to something I so enjoyed, conscious of the fact that I had barely more than 2 months to make the most of it. To speak German without end. To get rid of everything English-thinking and English-speaking. And I pushed myself and I was successful. Almost without exception.

Exceptions would probably be something like Sophia. And other English speaking friends. But I spent most of my non-Germaning (or alone-ing) time with her. She went to Straßburg briefly, the end of a weekend spilling into the beginning of the week. In that time, I spoke almost nothing but German. But I love it. I love it. I love it totally and through and through.

That’s actually not all that true. And this is the part where the blog falters from the spontaneous part of me running from the in-the-kitchen-with-a-cup-of-tea-thumbing-my-mensa-card, into all the fragments of blog I’ve had in my head since whenever I last wrote that entry about the bakery.

Orchestra. Auftakt, the orchestra I joined in Germany.

This is one of the very, very best things I did in Germany. Joining an orchestra, while at the very beginning made me hugely conscious of the fact that I had a sizeable gap in my vocab which was to be focal part of language for those rehearsal hours, has firstly annihilated that – I learnt some wicked words in orchestra (list incoming: abkanzeln, anmotzen, to name just two. Schund, Ramsch, Habseeligkeit, zierlich, Beuteschema, zimperlich, Pfütze, da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer, flink, poofen, lauschen, Nachruf, Nachhall, gammeln and abprahlen to name a few more) – secondly, met some amazing people and had a huge self-confidence boost, when they were honestly saddened at the last concert. They bought me a post card on which is a scene of Heidelberg and then cut out our encore (Zugabe, in German, which was (and this is the reason I opened the brackets in the first place…) that famous Shostakovich waltz that everyone knows *sings*) and stuck it onto the front. On the back, in Dagmar’s very beautiful hand writing was a note about how they’d really come to appreciate me being in the group and how I’d been fun. And the feeling was mutual. It really was – they’re a lovely bunch of people and they accepted me wonderfully, grammatical mistakes and all. With this card came one of the largest chocolate bars I’ve ever seen in my life, which was filled with crunchies and yoghurt. And – by the by – was scrumptuous.

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But it’s all over.

Oh yeah – just remembered how I got on to orchestra.

We had a Probenwochenende (rehearsal weekend) one weekend, during which time, obviously, very little English was spoken. There is another native in the orchestra, an American oboist, with whom I did chat on occasion in English (sentences with weird word order are, strangely, not the fault of German, but of Henry James, being that I’m reading The Turn of the Screw at the minute, having unearthed it from my laptop bag while pretending to pack at the weekend). But. The whole thing was residential, so we all woke up, early Sunday morning, ready to go into yet more rehearsals. And it was early. I was being addressed – in German – very early on a Sunday morning. Normally, fine, not a problem, but that day, there was something different. I couldn’t get my brain to make the switch – to jump over ever-eroding barrier (imagery copyright of Sophia Stavrinides, 2010) between German and English. I was staring people in the face, as they were talking to me, understanding what they were saying (comprehension’s the first ability to gain and last to lose in any situation, I find), but just not being able to put sensical (interesting link to research on whether that is indeed a word) units of language together in some kind of interesting or vaguely appropriate fashion. And being instead and consequently, hugely uninteresting.

So I got back into Heidelberg the Sunday evening and I was craving native speech. My thinking was all over – I was half in one language, clawing at the precipices of my native language, struggling to save myself from an otherwise certain descent into some kind of language purgatory and surely the logically-following social vacuity (wow, that is a word?). I satisfied that, but found that I was making all kinds of connections between words I hadn’t previously thought connected in my head (like wirken and work – they don’t mean the same thing at all). But, as I found at other points during my stay in Heidelberg, a sleep solves everything.

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This is currently my desktop background. (language help here)


While I’m on the language rant: there’s something I’ve noticed while being back. I’m going to try and keep this succinct and short, but here it is.

Firstly, there’s an overwhelming feeling I get whenever I’m about to address a stranger (in shops or people in service roles (people who check train tickets, women I’m booking doctor appointments with and all that) to speak to them in German. You train yourself (and/or get excited about it that you have) to expect that everyone that isn’t you or a face you know speaks German. Obviously. And when you get back in your home country, you don’t make equal and reverse efforts – it’s England, you know you’re safe there – but it means you end up having consciously to switch (I hate you, split infinitive) in your head. It’s like a double bluff.

Secondly, a lot of German filler words have nestled themselves in parts of my English speech. I find myself wanting to say “also” and “genau” in places when they’d make sense in German and for which there’s no real equivalent that’s used as often in English (the first one sorta means ‘so’ and the second means ‘exactly,’ but Germans say it a lot of the time when they mean ‘anyway’ or sometimes just ‘yes’). There are also areas of expression which I’ve struggled with in German, overcome and since filtered back in to English. An example is “transition phase.” For which I (quite inaccurately) used zwischendrin Phase in German. And I got to the point t’other day, where I wanted to say “the stage in-between” in English, but, having trained myself into a way of expressing that in German, the German came to me first and I ended up saying it (having briefly paused because I’d realised what was about to happen).


What else has happened? I bought a new camera.

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Sarah Austin and I accidentally bought the same one, so I photographed hers.

This is turning into a procrastination and off-topic fest. So I’ll get something more serious going.

All in all, Germany was fantastic. I loved it. I remember Fay saying that when she was leaving France, she’d just got to the point where she’d started to develop some real friendships with the people around her and leaving then was worse because of it. I was the exact same. There are so many people who I’d just started friendships with, with whom something really worthwhile could’ve developed, had I been staying longer (Doris, Annika Konstantin to name but 3). And regarding language, I was at a point where yeh, sure, I’d come on leaps and bounds and my command of spoken German was far higher than it was when I arrived, but I could’ve been so, so much more amazing. It was a slow development, followed by a rash and rapid development and then a sudden drop, as I left.

What have I taken away from Germany with me?

Better German. Many, many good friends. The strongest and closest friendship I’ve ever had with anyone ever. Lots of Germans willing to correct things for me in 4th year as well as Germans to Skype just before oral exams and the like. The knowledge that I am definitely going back at some point in my life for more than 6 months (but should probably limit myself to less than 2 years, just for the sake of coming back – I can easily see myself getting stuck out there (happily stuck, of course) and not coming back). The ability to watch scary movies and not completely fall to pieces. A great, big smile.

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Sure, parts could’ve gone better. But parts could’ve gone far worse. I could’ve lived tidier, I could’ve lived in more German. I could’ve befriended people. I could’ve not ignored people (wholly by accident) who had made so much effort with me. I could’ve put less stress on “finding someone.” I could’ve knitted less and worked more.

But I did learn how to say “should have done” and “would have done.” Even though that grammatical point was my one and only Achilles’ heel.


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And what’s next? Syria.

3rd of March. London Heathrow. Terminal 1. 3.35pm. 5 hours, 10 minutes later, Damascus, Syria.

Two weeks yesterday. Visa applied for. Train tickets to London booked and arrived in the post.

Packed? Barely unpacked.

What adventures. They await.

Remember: butter-pretzels, Mannheim, Plöck, cello, orchestra, European winter Zara, other things and to blog more often

November 5, 2009

This is another blog-post with a to-do list. A to-do list so out of date, that half of it’s in one pen and the other half’s in another.

It was originally going to be a post about Plöck, a post about cello and then another, more recent post about things innumerate that have happened in-between. But it’s getting shoved all into one now. Like it or not.

So. Here goes.

Some bikes whistle, some bikes squeek. Some bikes crackle and some rustle. Some click, some clack. That’s what it is to walk down Plöck at any time of day. Bike-riding culture is something I knew I’d have to expect. I’d heard that HD had a huge bike-riding culture, because of it’s annoyingly medium size. But I hadn’t expected this extent, quite so much. I’ve taken to walking down Plöck more often than not now, just because I like being zoomed past by people and their noisy metal. It’s so interesting to hear all the different songs they sing.

Bikes. Who’da thunk I’d ever spend that many words on writing about bikes? Those of you who know me a bit more intimately may be interested to learn that I rode Sophia’s back on Akademiestr. recently. If that doesn’t say anything to you – then you’re not going to find out. Yet anyway.

Sophia. Speaking of, Sophia’s been the agent of a discovery I’ve made about learning language here. With her, like few others, language is important. She plays with words in a way I don’t quite expect and manages somehow to humour-shock me with the way she sets things up (even if she does have a pre-funny face (like a sex face, but a bit more serious)). She’s the one who’s made me realise how important it is to have contact in your own language. German’s great and all that, but being able to know a language as thoroughly as you know your own, as deeply and as laterally, is unsurpassable (WordPress seems to think I’ve made a mistake with that word, but dictionary.com’s telling me I’m safe… All of this kinda goes against my point a bit, worryingly).

Which leads me onto another thing I’ve noted about deepening my German. Firstly, Sarah Marks was right when she said that your acknowledgement of a mistake moves slowly back in time, relating to the mistake itself: you start, when you get here, by making a mistake and either not realising or realising a few minutes after; then it gets to a point where you say something, and you realise a second after, that you were wrong; then it moves over (I have the image of a clock-face in my head, where the center is the problem and a finger is slowly going forward in time – at this point, the finger’s pointing at 12), so that you think about the potential mistake as you’re making it, then the finger swings forward (backwards, respectively), so that you think about it just before you make it (and are able to correct it), then it moves even further back, where you can feel yourself wanting to use that construction and pre-empting the mistakes, words before you get to the crucials, then it becomes automatic. My example of this is the construction “… should have done…”, which, unlike most German verb constructions, does not parallel the English as neatly as you might expect. I’ve always wanted to say “sollte gemacht haben” (“[should] [have] [done]”), but they actually say “hätte machen sollen” (“[would have] [should] [do]”). I constructed it without mistake (and without realising at first) the other day, which made my life. (on this topic: Aminata told me that she thinks my German is fluent, because I don’t think about what I’m saying and it just comes out, which is true, but I don’t want to define fluent like that. It was nice to be told that and it’s always nice when people question your nationality or parents’ nationality/language when you tell them you’re not a native speaker).

Secondly, and onto the thing I actually started this paragraph meaning to tackle, is that I’ve noticed that German is slowly moving closer to having an emotional connection with each of its words’ meanings. That sounds poncey, but I used to note that saying something sensitive (like “I’m gay”) in German was a lot easier than it was in English and figured it was because I’d grown up with those English words and had them bandied around me everyday in school or whatever. So that they were my first point of contact with the concept. With German, however, I’m finding that I have to inject more emotion into what I hear and what I say, because it’s still a little cold to me. The words are still a bit distant and don’t lie in my heart with the perfect connotation or whatever. I realised this because I’ve picked up a lot of slang words recently, (including, krass, gell?, voll, richtig, abgefahren, halt and so on). Halt‘s the one that made me realise this. It roughly translates as “just” into English, in a normal sentence. So you’d say something like, es ist halt so for that’s just how it is. My brain, constantly on the look-out to understand German as its first priority, picks out the words “es,” “ist” and “so” and pieces together that the speaker is drawing a comparison, but the ‘halt,’ in that flat interpretation gets lost. So I find myself having to listen to those kinds of words, just to pick up exactly what kind of an angle the speaker is taking towards their subject matter, or similar. Now I come to write about it, it’s actually pretty difficult to describe, but I hope I’ve done it at least a smidge successfully and not just ranted for ages.

From here on: it is less boring.

I felt that was necessary. The previous paragraphs have been really, really cold and linguistic. Unintentionally subject-specific. So massive soz about that (not really).

I woke up very early this morning because I have Arabic with Dr. Hug at 8am (read it… 8am) on Thursdays. I stumbled upon a couple of ’10 questions for an interpreter’ type videos on YouTube and eventually onto courses/colleges (one in America) for interpreting and translation study. Or was it last night?.. Can’t remember. In any case, it’s given me a new impetus and realistic approach towards actually becoming what I want to be. I’ve slowly been getting more and more despondent about my skills in Arabic and my interpreting skill as whole and worrying about what I’m going to do after, but those few videos have really kicked my motivation core and made me really want to pursue a Masters in Interpreting. For that, I’ve also had to realise my different approaches to my two languages. I really want to be able to exist as a native in German, whereas I know that’s nowhere near possible for Arabic (at least at this stage) and being an interpreter (or even translator) requires only (I say ‘only’) a 100% comprehension of the source language, which is something I can work on in the next 6 months in the Middle East and again in my 4th year in Durham, then again at my MA institution, if I indeed a) get onto one or b) do that in the first place.

I do, however, desperately want to stay in Germany for the whole of my YA. Every single German word I say is like a drop of enjoyment into a big pot of self-confidence and I can’t bear leaving it. I don’t feel like my German’s good enough now nor will it be good enough by the end of the Wintersemester for me to leave, but giving up on Arabic is just such a huge waste and I actually do enjoy it, even though it’s hideously like learning Latin at the minute (almost purely grammatical and less like actual communicative medium).

Anyway, the whole Masters story made me motivated and gave me hundreds of ideas for what I could do after my degree is finished (now that that’s a nearing doom I have to reckon with).

While I’m roughly in the same area as Arabic, two things occured to me. One good, one bad. The bad: the teacher I have on Thursday mornings (Dr. Verena Hug) is fantastically clever (that’s not the bad thing), but writes about the very fine details of the ins and outs of deepest Arabic grammar using Latin characters. Which is very, very frustrating, especially because it means she has to end up using apostrophes going one way for hamza and the other for ع. The good: I’m really proud of myself for being able to follow such a deep and face-close analysis of the Arabic grammatical system, even when it’s entirely in German. Sure, when she asks us to render something into German, I struggle and flail a bit and the others do it so quickly and easily that I miss what they say (and therefore a segment of the teaching, if it doesn’t get repeated), but I’m able to follow a very great deal, without having to worry. Relaxing into comprehension is an amazing feeling.

(I want to write about good days and bad days with German here, but I fear I’ve written enough about language for one blog post, even though it is massively, massively over-due. So I’ll write it in brackets here, for me to remember later, when I’m old and grey as well as Arabic verb forms being vaguely similar to the changes of meanings of German verbs when they undergo transition into zer- or ver- or be-).

— Language bant has really stopped now. Honest. —

In other news, I got my hands on a cello last Friday, because I’m going to play with a quartet with some friends. Reached the whole situation completely by accident. She and I were talking about music and she said she thought she might start a quartet & that she has everything, but a cellist. I play cello! So I started looking for one (luckily, Sophie rents hers and I just had to ask for details). Funny thing is, the guy who the cello belongs to is a) a Geigenbauer (violin-maker) and b) in the orchestra I’m playing in (also reached pretty ‘randomly’) on Horn! Quel surprise et quel coincidence dans mon life. French. Standard.

That actually reaches the bottom of my list. Which is depressing, non? I’ll start one of those iconic, one-phrase-here’s-other-stuff-I-did lists and see what happens:

bought, stored and ate a considerable amount of chocolate, bought, but am yet to eat, a pomegranate, knitted the back of a cardigan for myself in some beautiful green Noro, taught Ami how to knit lace (she’s making a hat), bought a beautifully blue woolly jumper from Zara, which, by the way, is fantastic at the minute (they had some dreamy leather shoes which I didn’t get (boo)), successfully joined and integrated into Heidelberg University’s Lesbian and Gay society (called LSBT Karl-und-Ruprecht AK ( … lol)), bought an Arabic textbook for €50 on a whim, received £1,000 from Durham Grant which I’ve yet to put to good use, continued to forget to hand in/post forms for even more money from ERASMUS, dropped “Deutsch und Englisch im Kontrast” and “Sprache und Emotion”, wished I’d taken Czech instead of Japanese (now that it actually does fit into my timetable), struggled learning the first of 3 Japanese alphabets (one of them is a series of thousands of characters, akin to Chinese and therefore can’t be counted as an alphabet, but I’m on the waa-waa, so you’ll do as your told), tried to convince myself I need lots of Ökowolle from Wolle Rödel, when in fact I don’t; continually failed to find enough time to practise cello, knit, play computer games with housemates and read (must work on a way of doing all at the same time); had some delightful email contact with Jane Gannaway, have boxed up but am yet to send boxes with small presents in for two of my nearest and dearest, continued eating a pretzel a day and, in fact, have had two on some days (including today), dropped the habit of sleeping in, agreed to play in a horn quartet recital at a Church mass a week on Wednesday, bought new jeans (again, on a whim), (this should be up there with Zara, but…) bought a really interestingly-shaped brown cardigan/jumper thing with a big necky neck cowl/scarf thingy thing, needed a wee the entire time I’ve been writing this blog, …, got massive pins and needles in my left leg whilst writing this bloody thing, bought a pair of test contact lenses from an opticians, only later to realise that I needed a stronger prescription than the glasses I’m wearing; given a girl I barely know from Japanese class break-up advice, seen a woman breast-feeding her young child in my Japanese class (betcha glad you read all the way through this list now, arencha!), shaved surprisingly regularly, urmm.. that’s like it. *bored*

Remember lots of shitty admin?

September 11, 2009

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Wow. It’s been flipping ages since I wrote anything here. Flippin. Ages

And this isn’t going to be a long one either. As I noted a few posts ago, I’m going to have to start concentrating on meditations between cultural differences instead of outing my entire life to the world (and, inevitably, offending people in the process).

The list at the end of this post, which I take great pleasure in writing (and, honestly, can see becoming the fullest content of some posts in the future), is likely to be of some length, but it’ll catch you up.

One thing I would rather write about in full sentences, however, is the nature of language ability and its identity among these Europeans. Coming from a country whose native tongue, is, by chance, the lingua franca, I’ve never really realised how important it is for other kids (from smaller countries, like Hungary or Scandanavian countries) to be able to speak good English. And I never realised a) how well everyone can speak English (when we’re going through the language course at a nice slow pace, and someone doesn’t understand some word, but the teacher wants to move on, he’ll mention its translation in English (bad accent)), and b) how easily everyone is able to switch from language to language and how it’s just not a problem or even an issue for them. Switching in and out of the native tongue or a near-native similar (oftimes English) is just not a problem. I’m getting a bit closer to it with German, to be honest: switching in and out of it is becoming more of a hobby than a necessity. But you see groups of teens just sitting there, speaking in different languages every few sentences. It’s like it’s not even a problem and the comprehension and the meaning is what’s important. Which goes against most of the intellectual fibres I have (considering bant…).

My German is, however, coming on leaps and bounds. I’m learning all the time and I’m so much happier to float my way through sentences now than I ever was in England (speaking German obv). I can float into a bank and have banter with the guy in there who recognises me from all the times I’ve had to complain about my card not arriving, I can cheer angry women in bakeries up, just by asking them how they are in a convincing accent. The bank guy, actually, gave me a real high the other day: I was moaning about my card (not important to know the details) and I said that I’d have to come in and complain a bit more if it didn’t work out this time and, when leaving, I said, “Hoffentlich sehen wir unsnicht wieder” (hopefully we won’t see each other again – bit of a pun on “Auf Wiedersehen” (literally, “On next-seeing”)) and he started to humour-me laugh, then broke out into an actual lol. Which was amazing. I walked away from that counter with a huge smile on my face.

Here comes the ‘other stuff I’ve done recently’ list: met loads and loads and loads and loads of new people (my Germany handy now has a passable number of contacts – which is joyous), realised how easily I click with people (some of the time), went to Pol’s 21st Bday Bop and enjoyed being around roasting hog (and seeing some old friends and stuff too!), got Shostakovich 5 stuck in my head pretty permanently, stuck quite rigidly to the “Pretzel a day” promise, flirted with pretty much everyone, met a really cool girl called Adelaide from Australia (who has amazing hair/dress sense) (with whom I had a late night (semi tipsy) walk home and heart2heart – one of those ‘how wonderful life is’ moments, really enjoyed it), realised I probably don’t want to enter into a relationship with a German because I’d want to understand all the tiny nuances of their sayings and I’d probably be walk-over-able if that were in German (despite it being UH-mazing for my Germanz), made my room an entire mess, started knitting again in a big way, got used to getting up at some horrid-early time for this stupid language course (which starts at 8.30am (finishes at 1)), discovered a fantastic bakery on the Universitätsplatz, brought my horn from home, almost run out of money on several occassions, bought a Semesterticket for the tram/trains for the local area (€127 – but totals worth it), said goodbye to dear Strickfreudin, Veronika (all the best, love!), started wearing my lenses again, got a haircut, realised how much I love my kara (thanks Fay and Safiya), finally enabled myself to listen to music on my massive (and <3) headphones again thanks to the acquisiton of a extension plug thingy), got a bit more positive about my housemate situation (Ami is moving in – girlfriend of Torben, so I’m hoping things are going to pick up and be a bit more chattsy), urmm… missed a trip to Ikea (grr), broke the blind in my room, started knitting a sock even though I vowed I never would, wanted to buy new shoes, started rambling.

That’ll do.

“Pardon madame, ich steige hier aus”

August 31, 2009

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(Photo courtesy of VVAllmen)

Warning for you all now, this is going to be a long and fairly unorganised post with lots of different things in. If you make it to the end, I’m proud of you already.

This blog has a to-do list.

So I was in France last week. I’m not sure entirely what I wrote about in my last post and, even though I could very easily check, I can’t be arsed.

I remember writing about why I disliked Paris. This will be further discussed here. So. Oh, in fact, I remember now. I wrote down the thing that depressed me and made me dystopic from Monday’s stay in Paris on my phone (which is now out of battery – so I’ll charge that up and write out what it was… [there is a pause]).

We could flood the streets with love or light or heat whatever
Lock the parents out, cut a rug, twist and shout
Wave your hands, make it rain for stars will rise again.

The well versed will notice that this is some MGMT lyrics. But for those, as me, who don’t immediately recognise it, and for those, again as me, who were feeling a bit weltschmertzy about being in Paris in the first place, these kind of words are easily haunting.

Another thing that pointed at dystopic Paris was the wind. I had to stand on the Number 5 as it jetted around like a ferret beneath the Parisian overgrowth and, what with the windows open, such an outdoorsy wind blew through our hair. It was awful… To be surrounded in this painfully awkward silence down there, with this eerie wind blowing through the open windows of a naked tin can, every time a pair of eyes looks at you, you’re struck with fear or something. It’s so awful. You might think I suffer from claustraphobia, reading this. It doesn’t help that I’ve just tuned into Shostakovich’s 8th Symphony… Yum BBC proms.

Another thing I want to document, for me to read back on later, is that the doors of the metro shut so dramatically and loudly and not quite in time with each other for it to be reassuring. It’s just crack, slide, then they all shut at slightly different times, like a bone crack that goes right through you. It’s horrible, the Parisian subway. Horrid.

Having said that, I did actually enjoy bits of it. It was so wonderful to see a woman (she had quite a big face, but was still very attractive), holding flowers and reading a book in English (a new book, can’t remember its name). She looked up and me and smiled a few times. The flowers made her fit the Parisian stereotypes a bit more clearly.

Another women in Gare De Lyon (my French is shit and I may have spelt this wrongly) and I did that thing where you walk into each other and one of you fails to decide decisively enough to go one way other other. I said, “pardon,” in my very best and well practised French accent and she smiled, so sweetly, and just laughed. That was probably what prompted me to ring Fay and tell her that Paris was happier on Friday than it had been on Monday.

Thing with Paris is that it gets so heavily romanticised in literature and pop-culture all over the place that you struggle to comprehend it. I loved – as always – how Pol point so fine a point on it to say that you struggle to believe it’s real, because of all its forced romanticism, you start to question whether you really exist there. That’s a nice way to think about. And when I say nice, I mean “accurate.” It’s so tiring. Feels like I’m wading through some dream, rather than through the capital of France.

But it hasn’t all be depressingly bad. I really, really enjoyed being in Fay’s company and helping her get some bant on last week. What was a bit depressing was how easily she got her bant on with the locals.. She thinks far quicker than I can and can establish a pretty good relationship with someone almost instantly. Like when she noticed the hotellier poking his head around the corner of the private quarters and onto our exiting footsteps, she said, “owh, espion” or some better-spelt French word. “Spion” is German for ‘spy,’ just as this word she uttered was in French, but I’d never’ve thought about it that quickly.. Getting your sense of humour across is really difficult in another language, really it is.

But today was good for that. Today is Sunday. Veronika and I met up and I’d told her on Saturday that we’d speak in German the whole day Sunday. And we did. And it’s one of the 2 times, since I’ve been here, that I’ve really felt at home in the language. Really able to get stuck into the thing. It takes a good long while, but after a bit it’s just so much easier, but then I can’t get back. The hump between the language is just so massive for me at the moment, but as I understand from what Sarah Marks said about it, that’s one of the things you notice disappears after you get better at German. I can sort of imagine that, too. Once you solidify it, you worry about it less and the then hump lessens itself. But even once I was Germaning with Veronika, she’d often speak English to me (when we were talking about oh-too-specific knit-vocab – my Strickwortschatz isn’t too great at the mo…), I’d often reply in German. Just because that’s what we’d been speaking and it came more naturally to me to want to reply in German.

… Man. I love it so much. I love speaking German. I love getting there and not worrying about the words your saying.. Just enjoying it for what it is and being able to bant about in it. Sure, I make mistakes more than I should, but, as the day darkens, I get better (just as quick as I get tired – which is a pain). After a point pretty early on, you stop worrying about it and stop deconstructing sentences like a loser and just get on with getting your point across.

So that’s that. (For those that are wondering, the other time I felt entirely comfortable operating in German was with the sweaty blue-t-shirted German. See post).

I booked flights for Polly’s birthday yesterday too. I’m really looking forward to going back and visiting the home country. Being immediately understood is actually quite high on my list of things I’m looking forward to. But what I’m most looking forward to (other than the party itself, of course), is a quiet night on Friday with Pol and Kate! It’s going to be so good to see them both again, being that the last time I saw them both was when I moved out of 4b, back in June. I really can’t wait.

Marwood gets here Tuesday. Can’t wait for that either. It’s going to be so good to have one of my closest friends right on my door step on my Year Abroad, and, cause we’re so eagre to be amazing Germanists, we won’t get bogged down into living in each other’s pockets. Having said that, I do kinda hope that she’ll want to speak to me in English. Just because I miss being able to be understood and being able to understand without having to climb over the language threshold all the time.

Laura Paul moved out Saturday. I met up with her for a Subway Friday night, which was fun. I really like her – she’s so friendly and cool. It’s a real shame that I’ve clicked with her so soon before she leaves the country, but she leaves behind her a conncetion with her housemates (one that I’d similarly have built up over the course of Marwood’s Zwischenmiete there, but still). I met the famous Eva then too and she’s going to become something good for me in a short time too. Hopefully.

Gah. I’m really bummed out about LP leaving actually… We got on so well, even if my humour didn’t always come across. I really liked that she was so happy and eagre to speak in German with me.

I met her dad that evening too. And, after a few of my sentences, he turned to me and said, der ist kein Deutscher (he’s no German). Which made me want to stab the nearest glass, unsmashed, into my stomach. Nothing against him, of course. I mean, he was probably surprised that there was an English boy sitting in his daughter’s bedroom (who wouldn’t be?), but I’m just so eagre to be amazing at German. And I know it’ll take a while. I just want it so desperately. It’ll come, it’ll come.

This is probably nearish the end of this post now. I’m running out of observations to make.

I do however want to apologise for anything I’ve written about anyone I’ve met which has offended them or which has revealed too much of what they’ve told me to the general and open public. I’ve been accused of being an exhibitionist by keeping this thing and it’s often made me want to make it completley private, journalistic and for my eyes only, but I really don’t want to. I like to write stuff so that people can read if they like. And I like a reason to take some would-be arty photos, pretentious as they are. The excuse is nice. But I often write throw-away things, without thinking twice about it and I apologise if you’ve been caught in the crossfire. I am trying to keep things a bit more about the transfers now. And, those who’ve been reading all along will probably notice that things are getting less journalistic (I did this, then this, then this, then this) and (hopefully) more thematic (and brackets-full) as I go along (brackets).

Again, apologies to those who want them. Without meaning to sound heartless. I am actually really sincere 🙂

Other things that’ve happened in this time: I realised I don’t have near enough plugs and need one of those gang-plug things (always makes me think of JHRowe), I don’t have enough wool to knit all the things I want to and am getting quickly more and more addicted to the craft, lost a bag of some of my favourite needles and a newly-completed cowl I was knitting for Nicola on the train (filed a report with Deutsche Bahn and am just waiting on their reply now), wrote a postcard to my grandmama, bought a peach and nectarine, ate a fantastic, freshly-baked pretzel; suddenly got an influx of shitty British (and therefore oh-my-god yummy) tea (Safiya’s sending me a box, Fabian brought me a box from England back with him and I managed to find a small box of 40 tea bags in a Persian shop near the knit-group yesterday (I wrote on it, “belongs to the Brit :)”)); started knitting Ros’ shrug (going v, v fast… Massively thick wool is teh SECKS), worried more about my money situation, emailed the German-Jordanian University again about them maybe taking me there, considering Yemen is shit; had a fantastic cup of tea from that PG-box I just wrote about; realised I definitely need to buy a double duvet and that Kaufhof is not the place to do it (300€), received my wool-box (with my super-duper headphones in!) through the post on Monday. That’s it. I like spamming lots of information into one paragraph at the end of an otherwise well-thought-out post.

End.

We could flood the streets with love or light or heat whatever
Lock the parents out, cut a rug, twist and shout
Wave your hands, make it rain for stars will rise ag