Sunday, November 27, 2011

sitting in the library...

I have been sitting here at the BSU library for the better part of two hours, trying to string together a series of German words into grammatically correct German sentences, and I fear what is developing is a pathetic attempt by a non-native speaker to look semi-competent in a language that she is not at all competent in.

What the hell has happened?!

Things I used to not have problems with: conjunctions, verb conjugations, the Verben mit Präpositional-Ergänzung (which I spent a good three weeks studying) are causing me a great deal of stress. I sit and contemplate for at least ten minutes the proper way to construct a sentence, only to get frustrated, type something that I know is incorrect down, and promptly lament my frustrations on various online outlets (the latest being, obviously, this blog).

I swear to God my German has progressed much like people progress in body pump class at Gold's Gym (now Axiom, I guess). You work super hard for an allotted period of time before you plateau and have two choices: you can continue in the body pump class, never getting stronger because the class is no longer what you need, or you can move up and get a personal trainer and have him kick your ass into shape.

Shitty analogy, I know. But it's all I can come up with right now.

I feel like that is what has happened to my German. I spent a year learning German, doing nothing BUT German, and I come back here and have two hours of German twice a week, on top of the dumb accounting classes, and work. The first six months of my German acquisition were rough--like Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill. Then, at some point, things started to click, and my ability to fluently write German (and to some extent read) became progressively easier. Then I came back here. And things plateaued. Not only did they plateau, but I fear they are starting to tumble downhill (like Sisyphus' rock). I don't want to go back to where I was those first six months because fuck-it-all, I am not Sisyphus and I don't have to push that fucking rock up a hill. I will quit.

Maybe it is the weather or my overall defeated attitude right now, but I'm thinking I might need to take a semester off. $1500 is a lot to spend on tuition for two German classes, and I'm worried that my motivation to stick with German if I am not going to be living in Germany and can get a job that won't require me to know it will fall out about mid-way through March. Can someone sponsor me so I can just move back there and do the whole immersion thing again??

And now, back to this horrible essay...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Here comes Fall...

October. By far my favorite month. The weather starts to change, the leaves turn an amazing array of colors, not to mention Halloween. So many things to look forward to in the next 31 days. But after that? November, probably my LEAST favorite month, because it signals the transition from decent weather to full-on winter, and if there is one thing I like only in small doses, it is winter.

I can already tell my body is preparing for what is to come. I spent pretty much the entire weekend trying to get caught up on "Grey's Anatomy." I cannot even remember the last time I watched this show, but thanks to Netflix including it on their instant queue, I was able to watch somewhere around 20 episodes in a 72-hour time frame. That is just not right. But this is what happens. I slowly start to lose the desire to go out and interact with the world, and instead I spend my time holed up in my living room, buried under a fleece blanket in sweatpants and a wife beater, eating soy burgers and drinking cup after cup of tea while watching some television show that will slowly cause me to lose my grip on reality. It is quite unfortunate.

I do not know if this weather change is also causing my already dwindling motivation to drop dramatically, but I want to be finished with school. Now. I am graduating in December, and had pretty much decided that I would re-enroll in the spring to finish my German degree, since I am only five classes away. But I feel burned out. I have been in college now for almost 10 years. 10 years of my life spent doing homework, studying for tests, going to class and quite frankly, I am tired of it. I want to come home from work in the evening and not have to worry about finishing accounting problems or writing essays in German or doing stupid, stupid blackboard posts. I just want to be finished.

I think part of this is also stemming from the fact that I have been working for three years for my accounting degree, and I have absolutely no desire to be an accountant. I would quit now if it weren't for the fact that I am taking my last class. But it all seems so pointless now. Just what exactly am I supposed to do with my life? So fantastic, I have these degrees, one which I really, really enjoyed getting (English) but that will make me absolutely no money, and another than sucks the very life out of me (Accounting) but will guarantee me a steady job.

And then there is the whole German thing. What would be the point of getting a German degree, other than the fact that it is another diploma I can put on my wall? I think what I liked so much about learning German in Germany was that it did not feel like work. It didn't feel like such a hassle to do these assignments and go to class, because the entire thing was an immersion, a different way of learning. I just cannot get on board learning German here. I love German, and I want to be in Germany to learn it. Not enrolled at Boise State. I know I bitched non-stop about the fact that I was forced to speak German while living in Saarbrücken but truth be told, I like it far more than being forced to speak in class here, giving presentations on things that I really do not care about. I have a hard enough time with history in English...learning German history in German (and we are talking EARLY German history) just is not something that interests me.

I am interested to see how all of this unfolds. Right now there are several variables that are unaccounted for that will influence my decisions one way or another. I can only hope that this is all unfolding the way it is supposed to, and if I decide that this is it, that I am finished with college after this, that it is the right decision.

In the meantime, I am going to carve some pumpkins, eat an insane amount of candy corn, and probably throw a party where we bob for apples in vodka. Because every once in a while, it is important to step back from all the bullshit that weighs us down as adults, put on a pair of sweatpants, mix a cocktail and watch a bazillion hours of television.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jet Lag one month later?

It can't be. It just can't. I mean, jet lag does not normally last for a month, yeah? But here I am, at 2:00 a.m. Friday morning, awake again. I do not think I have slept a full night since I got back here. What is that? Oh, I will tell you: super, super annoying.

I think this weird, fucked up sleep cycle is starting to mess with me, physically, emotionally, psychologically....? I saw an episode of "Law and Order: SVU" where this little girl pumped herself full of what I imagine was legalized kid speed (i.e. Riddlin or Adderol or something along those lines) and was awake for something like five days straight. She went insane and beat her friend to death with a pipe because her friend got better grades or was prettier or gave better head or something along those lines. I fear that I am teetering on the brink of that sort of sleep-deprived psychosis. Someone is going gently brush past me in a hurry somewhere, and I am going to unleash a fury like one of those overweight women on the Maury show who has discovered her boyfriend is sleeping with her 14-year-old daughter. Half my day I spend trying to stay awake, and the other half is spent wandering around in a complete haze. I walked yesterday from the sixth floor of our office to the eighth, sat down at my desk, and two minutes later had no recollection of how I got to my desk. I could not remember if I had walked up the stairs or taken the elevator. This can't be good...

Is this blog even making any sense? I cannot focus at all right now. I am very, very thirsty, but I think if I drink water, I am going to have to pee at 4 a.m.

I wonder if it is because, subconsciously my mind knows that at 2 in the morning here, it is 10 in Germany and people are actually awake. If that is the case, my mind needs to get back on American time, stat. My body certainly knows it is back in America. Ask my muffin top.

So yeah, sorry Vickie but there will be no run this morning. Just like there was no run yesterday morning. I might have to go see my doctor about getting some Lunesta or something to regulate my sleep cycle. This has gone on long enough. All I know is that I am not traveling internationally until this thing is fixed. I might do irreversible damage and turn into one of those people. I mean, hell, I already have the cats. The only thing I need is my hair in curlers, a bathrobe and a small child for me to scream at whilst chasing it down the street with a broom or baseball bat.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Just a little Hiatus

I have found that it is quite difficult for me to actually find things to write about in this blog, now that I have delved face-first into boring adulthood again. Coming back from what I consider to be a year-long vacation has both its ups and downs: on the plus side, I am once again a contributing member of society, earning my keep, paying my bills and not leeching off the support of the government, my University or my parents. On the negative side I have become, well, boring. Maybe not boring...domestic. Again. It is amazing how easy it was just to slide right back into the old routine: work, school, run, eat, sleep, repeat. Every day. It might almost be depressing if it weren't the thing that makes me most comfortable. Whereas my life in Germany was full of a lot of unexpected surprises, some good, some bad, I have regulated my life here in Boise to the point where there really aren't any surprises. It is just my life.

The longing to be back in Germany has subsided slightly, though I still have moments throughout the day where I will see something or hear something that reminds me of Germany, and I get that horrible pull in my stomach to be back. Last night I watched a newer movie with Liam Neeson in it (don't ask me what it was called because I cannot remember...perhaps "Unknown"? That sounds right) and it was filmed almost entirely in Berlin. While watching it, I kept yelling out, "oh, there is the Brandenburger Tor, oh, there is the Reichstag" (thank God I was watching this movie alone, or I probably would have started to annoy whoever was with me). And I wanted to be back. I wanted to be back so much.

What is very strange to me is that the longer I am away from Germany, the more I miss people in ways I did not think I would miss them. Or I miss people for reasons that I did not expect. Whenever I get ready to go out someplace, I still have a habit of texting Carrie and Silke and Juli to invite them out, only to have that "oh fuck, they don't live here" moment right before I hit send. But I realized I really miss talking to my friends in Germany. I think it is because they know a different version of my life. Whereas most of my friends here in Boise have the advantage of knowing me for at least five years (some, like Alison, since I was seven), my friends in Germany had no preconceived notions about me. I feel like when I talk to Carrie or Silke about what is going on over here, they interpret it a lot differently than my friends here. I guess it is my pitiful attempt to combine my two worlds, though the more time that passes, the larger that 6,000 mile gap feels.

And it is amazing how much more difficult it is for me to learn German now that I am not completely surrounded by it. I do not have German television to watch anymore, no more German radio, no more "fuck, fuck, fuck, I have to talk to people in German" when I go out. Without that kind of added pressure, my motivational level has taken a head-first dive into la-la land. It really is amazing how much I absorbed into my little alcohol-riddled brain whilst living abroad. I guess this means I am going to have to double the 20% effort I put forth while actually living in Germany. Christ, I might actually have to *gulp* try...

On that note, if any of my German friends want to help me work on my German speaking via Skype, I cannot guarantee that I will last longer than five minutes, but I figure any amount of practice I can get in at this point can only help me, yeah? Right now the extent of my vocabulary includes various uses of the word "scheisse" and "Zauberpferd" which I do not even think is a real word, but who doesn't want to talk about magic horses?? Magical horses with blue hair.

On a completely unrelated note, I now firmly believe, after being home for a month, that there is some sort of conspiracy with our government and food manufacturers to make us all fat. I am not sure how it is at all possible that I only gained right around 6 pounds while I was in Germany (and that is for the entire year) and yet, coming back home, where I am actually running more than I was the past few months, I have put on almost 12 pounds. I will tell you why: it is because we seem to be totally fine with pumping our food full of high fructose corn syrup and sugar and preservatives and other things that will ultimately lead to me losing the battle with my muffin top. I have given up even trying to eat bread over here. I cannot pronounce half of the ingredients in packaged bread. GROSS.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

some serious weirdness...

Today I have officially been home a week. And A LOT has happened in that week. I have met up with friends, gone running three times (thank you Vickie), celebrated Tour de Fat, started school and, oh yeah, got a job. Today was my second day and I can already tell this job is going to be killer, in a good way, I think. I am just working as a runner, but the firm I am working for is huge, and there are constantly errands to be run. The good news is, it makes the day go by very, very quickly. I am just glad at this point to have a job. I was very concerned about my prospects, but as always, things have a way of falling into place as they should. And though it is going to be stressful for a little while, I think in the end it will all work out. As Vickie's husband said: you are the only person I know who can be gone for an entire year, come back, immediately have an interview and then get offered a job two days upon your return. I like to thank fate (and my insanely charming personality and dashing good looks).

School is also going marvelously, though I can tell my Accounting 302 class (Survey of Federal Income Taxation) is going to suck the very soul out of me. What was I thinking two years ago when I thought an ACCOUNTING degree was a good idea for me?? See, I have this thing called a "personality," and my personality is not conducive to that of an accountant. So I will finish this class and get my degree in December. And be done with it. But I do think I am going to continue with my German degree. I mean, it makes sense at this point. I really like my German class I have this semester. The teacher is fantastic (she sounds super American, too, which gives me hope for my future as a German speaker) and the class seems like it is going to be pretty fun. We will see. I have already spoken more German here at home than I did in Germany (okay, that is a gross overestimation, but you get the drift). I think my whole block came off when I got back here and enrolled in classes with other German speakers who were just as bad as me. It makes me feel less self-conscious.

I have, though, been pretty homesick for Germany lately, but that is to be expected. I actually found myself in Winco the other day judging the insane number of fat people pushing their carts full of processed, packaged cakes and liters of soda pop. I know they have always been there, but I guess I am just now noticing them. Maybe I am looking for things to complain about because I would like to be back in Germany. Who knows. I am trying not to be too cynical. Finding things to complain about is exponentially more difficult when you are crazy busy, so at this point, I am trying to occupy my time with as much as possible. School and work will keep me pretty busy, but pala is starting soon, and I signed up for a ceramics class at Fort Boise. And I think Erin and I are going to take kayaking lessons. This is how I cope with things, though. If I overload myself, I am too stressed to lament on what is really bothering me. It is a pretty stupid coping mechanism, but it works for me. When I have idle time, like now, I start to think on all the friends I left in Germany, and it makes me incredibly sad. I wish there was a way I could meld my two worlds together. *sigh*

But do not get me wrong: I am glad to be back. I missed my friends here terribly, I missed summer in Boise when it is so hot you walk outside and immediately start sweating from places you did not know could sweat. My hair is finally back to normal, my skin has stopped freaking out. Party season is just around the corner! And I am very excited to see my friend Katie and her band in September: Sick of Sarah. I know it is going to take time, but at some point, this horrible, gnawing feeling of loss in my stomach will subside. And I hope sooner rather than later.

But it has to be said: if the old adage is true, "distance makes the heart grow fonder" my friends in Germany had better watch out, because the next time I see them, it could be an all out maul fest!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Readjustment Process

I have now officially been home for two days, and to be honest, Germany feels like a distant memory. I often have moments, where I am sitting in my living room or unpacking or running errands all over town, that I forget that I ever even was in Germany. It seems like it was such a long time ago, a different life, I guess. I came back home picked up my life right where I left off, meeting up with friends, watching Netflix movies with Tessa in my living room, driving to Costco to pick up a 5 lb bulk container of strawberries. Did it all really happen?

Right now, at 4 o'clock in the morning, I know it happened, mainly because the side effects of jet lag are still plaguing me. I do not think I have slept longer than 4 hours in one night. I keep waking up right around 3 thinking I have slept at least 8 hours, only to realize that the rest of Idaho is still asleep (or out partying), and it is in fact German time that I am on. I am really hoping this wears off soon, because I just feel so exhausted during the day. I apparently fell asleep for the entirety of "Dinner with Schmucks" last night. I do not think I have ever slept through an entire Steve Carrel movie.

While I was in Germany, my parents completely re-did my house: reupholstered furniture, new carpet, new hardwood flooring, different color schemes in my rooms. It was like I had come home to a completely new house, and I really liked it. It was almost like a fresh start. I think a lot of what I was both dreading and excited about was the fact that I was just going to come back here and pick my life up again, the good and the bad, the mundane and the exciting. This new house, this new perspective has made me realize that this really is a chance to start everything over here. Yes, I do expect that people will want me to act the same way (or not--I guess I was sort of a bitch before I left) but I really see this as an opportunity to sort of re-invent the wheel. I just spent a year living in Europe, for crying out loud! That has got to change something, yeah?

I was very concerned about how I was going to adjust coming back here, but I think everything is going to be fine. I miss my friends in Germany terribly, but I know that we will keep in touch. I have already skyped with Carrie and facebook chatted with a few others, and despite the fact that there is 6000 miles between all of us, I do not think any of these friendships will be hindered by this. I rest safe in this fact because, coming back here, my friends and I were able to pick back up right where we left off. It really does not feel like I was gone at all. I went to lunch with Vickie, Tessa and Melanie yesterday, and upon watching Vickie and I together, Melanie commented that it was amazing how easy it was for the two of us to interact with each other after such a long time apart. But it feels that way with everyone that I have seen so far. Distance does not necessarily have to be a bad thing; in fact, I think the saying goes: distance makes the heart grow fonder.

Not only that, I have my wonderful kitty back, who is sitting here on the couch next to me watching me type this blog. I was concerned because when we got back here, he hid under the bed for most of the day, but I think he remembers his home, and is relishing in the solitude of being the only cat in the house. Though he is going a little stir-crazy to get outside. I fear that the toys Jan sent with me from Germany will only capture his attention for so long before he turns his aggressive tendencies on my new furniture.

So now that I am no longer "an American living in Deutschland," I am not sure what the overarching theme of this blog will be. Probably just my random exploits, which are usually just as exciting. So I hope you all continue to read, because I will continue to post.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I am so finished flying internationally...

All right, I am not sure how much sense this blog is going to make because I am fairly certain at this point I have been awake for over 36 hours, with a brief 4 hour nap at an airport hotel in Frankfurt. I have been so close to both crying uncontrollably and bursting into fits of laughter that I am beginning to question my own sanity. Let's recap:

First, Monday, the 15th, I had an incredibly tearful good-bye with Carrie, Jan and Saarbrücken. Already emotionally exhausted, I had to maneuver my way around the Frankfurt Airport (and anyone that has flown in or out of Frankfurt knows that is the opposite of a good time) with everything I owned in Germany somehow stuffed into two bags weighing under 20 kilos each. (Case in point, one of my suitcases was actually 23 kilos, but most people do not like dealing with people who are crying, so the nice check-in guy did not charge me. This is where my positive experience with American Airlines begins and ends).

I cried as I got onto the plane, looked at the window and bid Deutschland farewell. And then continued to sit on the runway. For about 30 minutes. Okay...the Captain then gets on the announcer-thingy and informs us that there is a problem with the fuel pipe, and maintenance needs to come take a look at it. Great. So I stare at Germany some more from the window, getting more and more depressed about leaving, and more and more depressed at the prospect of never making it back to America. 5 HOURS LATER, after sitting on that fucking plane that did not move, sometimes with no air conditioning, no entertainment, and several small children, they inform us that they must cancel the flight and pick it up again tomorrow.

You have got to be kidding me. Normally a pretty calm and collected person when it comes to inconveniences like this, I just about lose my shit. I was so emotionally and physically exhausted that it was all I could do not to burst into tears. Not only that, I had no working phone, and thus no way of contacting anyone in the states to inform them of this stupid delay. I found a very nice woman who let me use her phone, and could not get anyone's phone number to go through, except for Silke, who had her phone turned off. I left her what I can only imagine was an incredibly panicked, incomprehensible message before waiting in line with customer service to see what my options were.

Since I could not call anyone from my phone, but could still receive calls, I prayed that someone would call me, and thank GOD Silke did, and after I filled her in on why I hated traveling and life at that exact moment, she emailed my mother to let her know that her favorite daughter would not be arriving when expected. And Carrie called me a few times during the night to make sure I had not gone on a shooting-spree in the Sheraton. :)

The shitty thing, well, one of the more shitty things about this entire situation, was that I was not flying to Boise, but instead flying to Portland, and had another flight with Southwest airlines the next morning, which I had to rebook for the next day ($80 fee, mind you, which cost more than the original one-way ticket) and had to book a hotel here in Portland for the night I was not planning on staying here. Not only that, American Airlines refused to help me out with any of these issues because, as they put it, it was now Southwest's problem. Um, no. No, jackasses, this is your problem. It is YOUR fault that I had to say good-bye to Germany twice, get stuck at two different airport hotels, WITH NO ALCOHOL, miss my other flights and not make it back to Boise today. I am supposed to be sitting in my living room right now with my cat and Tessa, eating Guidos and drinking New Age. DAMN YOU!

Anyway, flash-forward to this morning, which I just realized was actually 24 hours ago (I hate time changes) I show up at the airport at 6 a.m. to check-in for our rescheduled flight, wait in line for over 2 hours, and then wait another 4 hours for our flight, which is delayed...again. I barely make it to Dallas to catch my connection to Portland and I have to be honest, I am still having a hard time believing that I am finally in the amazing Northwest, a mere 5.5 hours from Boise.

And on that note, here are just some random things I feel necessary to bring up in this blog before I go to bed:

1. I have already had my fountain Mug Root Beer. And I may have cried a little.

2. Big cars, I have missed you!

3. Fat Americans, I have not missed you.

4. After riding on 3 separate flights, all of which had small children screaming at the top of their lungs, any desire I had to ever have children and then travel with them has flown right out the window. I think my ovaries actually shriveled up and died.

5. I am watching Law & Order: ENGLISH! On USA! I am so excited.

6. I sort of miss Germany. :(

That is all for now. I hope to blog a bit more next week in Boise, though school starts on the 22nd, so not sure how much time I am going to have. I do have my "Things I will miss in Germany" blog that I need to finish. :)