Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lass mich nur wissen: Ist die Schwimmbad Trocken oder Naß?

Waldemir isn’t doing his homework. I blame Gary. Well, only secondarily, you see, Gary gave Walde his Gameboy DS, and his Final Fantasy game. Walde loves Final Fantasy. He won’t stop playing. It is addictive, I would have to imagine. An outsider might think that perhaps Waldemir is our adopted son, he isn’t. More like adopted brother, but in actuality our only real friend in Altes Lager. Those in the know would ask about Daniel, who is also a friend, but who lives in Lukenwalde. For the past few nights I have been attempting to help Walde in Math(s) and Physics, and a little English. Waldemir doesn’t like his English teacher, and I don’t think highly of her either. She gives pretty pointless assignments.

Other news is the fact that this week I went to the swimming pool twice (Schwimmbad). The first was with Walde and his mother. Walde’s mother is very nice, but afraid of driving and riding in cars. She spend much of the ride there and pretty much all of the ride back, yelling comments about Walde’s driving. The yelling wasn’t from being angry, but rather from fear. I spent the whole ride home trying not to laugh out loud as Walde’s mom tried to get her mind of the road by repeating everything she did at the sauna to Gary for about the 5th time. It was all pretty funny, but I have to clear up that Walde’s mom is awesome and is also the maker of the best cake I have ever eaten in my 24 years of existence (give or take a couple years I don’t remember because I was a baby, but I seriously doubt I could eat cake at that age, and if so it wouldn’t have been very good cake.) Though I have to say that my Grandma’s pineapple upsidedown cake is still my favorite.

My second time was today, which is Wednesday. I went with the Kinder Klub, which is comprised of 12 and 13 year old kids. I guess they aren’t that young now that I think about it. But still to young for me to really have fun around. Plus they only speak German, and make fun of my German, but some of them only do it to tease me. Besides, my German is miles (kilometers) away from perfect. I spent a good 30 minutes going down the water slides, which have so far been at every German pool. Then I just took turns swimming in warm water pools, which aren’t as refreshing as cold water pools, but relax you.

Currently I am gearing up for my trip to München, which is Munich for you English speakers. I meet someone from Munich in Paris and she is going to show me around a bit. It should be fun, or weird and awkward. I am hopeing for the fun side. It’ll be my first taste of travelling alone, maybe I can be social and get some friends out of the deal. I am a little nervous to be honest, which is something you aren’t supposed to admit to, but I am. Sorry if you thought I was impervious to such things.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cloven in Twain (?)

Cloven in Twain. It is a comment that I can’t help laughing about when I think about it. Apparently it was something a fellow trainee in the Netherlands thought up while working mindlessly. It’s funny to me mostly because I think of it, then think of Eric thinking it up and deciding it was the best thing ever. It just always make me laugh. Well it and Gary’s comment about sucking youth, but that is another story entirely.
Other random thoughts include that the reading of Harry Potter books lately has encouraged my thoughts to think of any kind of mischief as ‚breaking about 50 school rules.’ Any rule breaking and I want to say to myself, ‚Now, I know I’m breaking about 50 school rules, but it’s just this once.’ For example, I am currently eating a Cup of Noodles (I’m feeling lazy, but I’ll get to that) in the presence of a computer, and in a room designated as a Büro, which is to say, Germanically speaking, an Office. I know, I’m breaking about 50 school rules. Sorry.
Yesterday I decided not to drink coffee. I did this somewhat because of my fear that I am addicted to it, but mostly because I was bored between classes and challenged myself to not drink it. Not one to back down from a challenge, I didn’t drink coffee. I thought it would be a good day to test Katie’s ‚an apple wakes you up just as much as drinking coffee does’ theory. In my case it wasn’t true. Perhaps because I am addicted to coffee. I passed through the day grumpy mostly because I couldn’t drink coffee. ‚It’s not becuase you need to drink coffee,’ I told myself ‚it’s because you want to drink coffee and you can’t.’ It made me think about the logic of addiction. Maybe you never feel like you have to do something, you just feel like you really want to, and why shouldn’t you.
Today I drank coffee, though I did want to also eat an apple. I blame English lessons. In the sixth class we are talking about Modal Verbs, which are the verbs Must’t and Shouldn’t. I never really use the word Mustn’t, mostly because I never really use the word Must. Does anyone? Apparently, to talk about Modal Verbs, we are talking about eating healthily. We took a little health quiz on Wednesday and my score looked bleak. And I will tell you, one of the questions had everything to do with Apples. As if apples are this magical life saving fruit. Don’t they know that people that draw pictures about the Bible draw apples as the forbidden fruit. They even come right out and say you shouldn’t just eat apples, Terry (Terry, you will remember, is a child at Thomas Tallis, a fictional or atcual school in London, but you mustn’t remember, I reminded you.) But then in this quiz one of the questions is how many apples did you eat last week. It did not like my answer of 0 apples. They didn’t ask how many times I rode my bike last week, which was 7, at least. I think that’s pretty dang healthy.
I’ve aquired a new favorite German word. Quatsch. If you look it up, it can mean bullcrap. It can, however, also mean ‚Shut up’ ‚Give me a break’ ‚You’re an idiot’ or ‚Pssh.’ It is also fun to say. You pronounce it qwatch, only with a little hint of ‚s’ before the ‚ch.’ Try it out, just walk around saying it. You’ll like it, it’ll grow on you, it took me a couple of days. Also in the realm of German nonsense words that might be useful, only a dustier word, is ‚Potztausend.’ One uses it when one is surprised by something, and when one is a old person. I don’t think the kids use it, but it is in my book, so I asked someone what it meant. Words like that are the fun part about learning German. The hard part is when I don’t drink coffee one day and my brain starts moving all slow and I get this headache but still have to think about what people are saying becuase it is German and if I don’t think to pay attention I won’t translate what they say, and then will be confused. Potztausend’s closest English relative I think would be ‚Poppycock.’
Today I taught the 1st class. I like them because they are like tiny people and sometimes it makes me smile to see them doing big people things. They are fun and like me and get excited when I come to teach them. Today didn’t go over amazingly because I tried teaching ‚I’m A Little Teapot.’ I should’ve learned the German word for teapot, and meant to, but forget. No one knew it, and the teacher had a time thinking of the word. The problem is that in Europe they drink so much tea they all have water cookers, which boil water ganz fast. So no one really has a teapot, anymore. So the song was hard to translate into German because no one understood why a teapot would whistle. Last week ‚The Itsy Bitsy Spider’ went so well, I thought it would be the same. Of course, it’s hit and miss with the first class. At least we will sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider onward into infinity. That is at least something. (They also know what happens in the song, so woohoo.)
Anyway, my cup of noodles are (is?) getting cold and my (our) friend Walde is here and wants help with Math(s) and English. So I must go now, mustn’t I?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Grade A Student

First of all, if you want to be impressed, I am currently reading a book written in German. If you’d like a grain of salt with that, it’s a book written for the 2nd grade level, proudly declairing on the spine that it is written for 8 year olds, or older. I fall into the older category, though working with kids so long has made me feel younger.
Now for how I really wanted to start this blog off:
So I was chilling with my buddy Armando today during school. Okay, Armando happens to be in the 5th grade, but he’s still pretty cool. Anyway, during the 5th grade English class I was sitting next to him. We started off with a little test, which I got to participate in. The teacher said some words and phrases in German and we got to translate them in English (I’m using Jared’s patented optomistic approach, which I am quite fond of using). I was the only one in the class to get them all right, gaining me a 1, which is the German equivilent of an A+. Then the kids read out some English sentances and translated them into German, I got to do one that read: ‚It is hard to learn German words. I know. One day I know them, then I forget them again.’ My translation ‚Es ist schwer Deutschen Worten zu lernen. Ich weiß. Ein tag kenn Ich die Worten, aber am nächsten tag vergiss Ich die Worten noch mal.’ Earned me the remark from the teacher ‚He is the best student in the class.’ So I smoked a bunch of 5th graders in English. I don’t really feel all better than anyone. Maybe a little. But honestly it does make me feel good about my progress in the German language, at least for today.
I also helped the 6th class make and eat a fruit and normal salad. It was pretty good. Well I can speak for the normal salad, which in German was called Buntesalat, which translates literally to ‚Color Salad’ (I’m pretty sure that is a poor translation.). On the bus I had a long conversation with Pascal (a first grader, who called my teeth yellow, but has no teeth of his own...but he didn’t mean any harm by it really) about whether or not I could have his toy cars. We decided I couldn’t. In a few minutes Walde is supposed to come over so I can help him with his Physics homework. I will tell you Physics wasn’t my favorite subject of all time, but thanks to my professor’s tendency to make his tests almost exactly like the study test, it is a subject I passed with all A’s (I think my average was 102, but I don’t want to brag).
Now that you are all sufficiently impressed with me, I’ll give you the bad news. Well really the worst thing that happened today was I accidently stepped in a big pile of dog poo, it took forever to get my shoe cleaned.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Wheres the Schlüssel?

Last night I found myself locked in the Church. Not in the youth group fun sense, but, rather in the ‚the door’s locked and I don’t have a key’ sense. I was in the church with Gary, cooking dinner and then I stayed back to check my emails. Unfortunately earlier that day I had left my church keys in my room. I finished up on the computer and started the process of shutting everything off and locking other doors, which got me thinking about keys. I reached down absently to the place where I normally tote my keys, a front belt loop on my ‚Trousers.’ I noticed that they were either way lighter and less sharp than usual or they weren’t there. I looked down to find they were gone. Coincidentily, Gary had just mentioned that day how we could climb out the window should we ever get locked in. Had that not been in my mind I might have opted for the more lazy option of sleeping on a couch, or in true lock in form, not sleeping at all and spending the whole night playing mine sweeper (or more likely writing something). I guess I keep forgetting they don’t have screens here and that we are on ground level. Had I been locked in a church back home, I don’t think climbing out a window would be an option. So I snuck into the men’s bathroom, though there was no reason for sneaking, honestly, and clambered out the window. After that life just returned to normal.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ich war einmal ein Geburtstagkind.

Before I commence with the story telling I will preface with this peice of fact: Yesterday, March 1st 2007, was a wonderfully excellent birthday. I begin, however, with a story from today.
Moments after arriving to my first class this morning, I found myself being led to an empty chair, which was suspiciously placed in the center of the room. Soon I was surrounded by children all wishing me a happy belated birthday. Then all the boys encircled my chair as the class erupted in song. Hoch sein dein leben, Hoch sein dein leben, dreimal: Hoch, Hoch, Hoch. Well something to that effect. On the three Hochs I was hoisted into the air by the guys. In Germany, birthdays are important, and I definately felt important on mine.
I woke up in the mindset that things would function normally for the most part. I figured some of the kids would remember it was my birthday and shake my hand. Upon arrival to the bus stop, this did happen, only all the kids remember and all jockied in line to be the first to shake my hand. Honors went to my buddy Dima, who is a cool kid from the sixth class, and I’d say we are pretty good friends. The rest of the bus ride was filled with stolen glances at me and Herzlichen Glückwunsches. This was enough to make anyone feel important and special. So I get off the bus feeling pretty good, and make my way to the Teacher’s Lounge (I know you are all still jealous of that) when I get there, the first thing I see is a small fire in front of my usual sitting spot. The fire came from 5 candles that were stuck in a birthday cake. The teachers were standing in a line and singing ‚Happy Birthday,’ then they all came and shook my hand and some even hugged me. Amazing stuff. I started talking to the Biology teacher and found out she had a lesson in my free period, so I went along. It was the sixth graders, who atcually let out a whoop of joy when they found out I was coming to their class. They shook my hand and then sang ‚Happy Birthday’ (with Lieber Keith instead of Dear Keith, which really just made it all the better). Then I taught the first grade, who sang me the German birthday song (which ends with the Dreimal hoch song), which is really a nice song. I don’t know the words, but they say nice things about the birthday kid, and not just happy birthday. The best was yet to come, however. While waiting for the bus I was the subject of much more handshaking, but then a girl from another first grade class. Her name is Sandra and she is a good kid really, and likes English. She comes up and says ‚Happy Birthday,’ and then she sings all of ‚Happy Birthday.’ It was really very sweet.
The rest of the day was fairly normal. We went to the truckstop to celebrate with our friends there. To celebrate they gave Gary and I a free shot of vodka, well fig vodka, which tastes pretty good really. I checked my 30 some odd facebook messages (Thank you to all who sent their best, I felt quite besonders [special]) And that, as they say, is that.