Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Today, dear readers, is a cause for celebration. The celebration should involve a dance, but not yet, for now simply read the instructions: First, hold your index fingers high, then stand up, put on some music (I suggest something from Jay-Z’s newest album) and get into the beat. Now pump your fists up and down while turning in a full circle (still keeping with the beat). After a complete 360, kick each foot up to the knee of the opposite leg (one at a time of course) and slap it with your palm before taking it to the floor again. Feel free to improvise ‘whoots’ and the like. Genießen, repeat. (Genießen = enjoy).

Now that you know how to properly celebrate, I will tell you what it is you are celebrating (though if you have any knowledge of German, you might have already guessed). You’re celebrating Mullettottag, and though I doubt they’ll give you the day off for it (feel free to attempt it), it is at least a good excuse for a party. Mullettottag is the celebration of the death of my Euromullet, which I have been sporting since about October, 2006. I may have killed my chances of being in a German hard rock band, but at least none of you will have to lie if I ask how my hair looks.

In other news, I am currently in countdown mode. I have planned my final vacation, finished quite a few of the multiple tasks my job has provided me, and have a final work day to work towards. Yes, in three short weeks I will be totally finished with my job. Part of me gets really sad to think about it. Every day that I have fun at school, which is most days, I think about how soon I will step out of it’s halls for good. Today I had a conversation with some of the 5th grade guys about this. They were talking about how no new trainees would be coming, so I asked them if they were glad I was leaving. Their faces turned suddenly a little sadder as they said no. Perhaps to make them feel better I promised I would come back, which I do plan on doing, Altes Lager is a special place for me. I spent the whole day with the fifth class today helping with a project they were doing. It was fun, though a little frustrating because the kids really took no initiative whatsoever. It was still nice to spend time with them, of all the classes, the 5th class I am the closest to.

During the day, the question of: ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ came up once again. I was feeling particularly sarcastic today, and, as I have answered this question about 50 times, I said that I had four. Technically, due to the way German works I could have meant it that I had 4 friends that were girls, so I wasn’t really lying. The kids didn’t buy it, and reacted a bit too seriously to it (though German children understand sarcasm better that most of the adults I’ve met, they still have a tough time dealing with it.). Anyway, I finally gave them a straight answer, which is that I don’t have a girlfriend. This led to a small conversation after my bus ride home. During the way, two girls got on the bus (they were about 15 or 16 years old). When I got off the bus, one of the guys from the 5th class expressed his disappointment. ‘Two girls, that would have been perfect for you were on the bus and you didn’t even talk to them!’ He said. I said, ‘They were only 16, man.’ He didn’t really get it, but luckily one of the 5th grade girls was on my side. ’16 is too young for him,’ she told the boy. Somehow, I still think I will hear something about it tommorow.

Anyway, that is about all for now. Commence Celebration.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm...in love?
I like to think they said it because they want me to stay, because they are going to miss me, but are too young to put those feelings into meaningful words, made harder still by the fact that anything too meaningful in German and you run the risk that I won’t truly appreciate it, at least not for all it is worth. I like to think that, but I suppose I am also feeling a bit sentimental. Not sentimental enough, however, to be enjoying this ‘nasty heat’ as the weather has been described recently, without any air-conditioning. Anyway, I suppose I should take a few steps back into the ‘Vergangenheit’ (that is the past, and it is a fancy word that I don’t get to use all that often) and tell you what they said, and who these ‘they’ people are in the first place.
First off, I don’t mean ‘they’ in the general usual sense, as in ‘they told me to do it,’ or ‘that’s what they say.’ I am referring to a few of my students, 1st graders in fact, who I was talking to this afternoon whilst waiting for the bus home. The conversation began with a very strange question, though one that is, for whatever reason, quite popular for children to ask. ‘Are you in love?’ they asked me, it was a small group of two of three of them. In all honesty, the first thing I was wondering about was which one of the many rumours about my elementary school love life they were inquiring about. Explanatorywise, this year I have been presumed to be in love with: either of the English teachers, a few second grade girls, any female friend I’ve mentioned, a fictitious German girl who ‘lives in the area’, and a teenager who goes to our church (though only twice a year). The last one was the weirdest, as I happened to sit next to this girl on one of the Sundays that she came, then one of the old ladies asked me if she was my fiancé. First of all, I don’t have a fiancé, and second of all, the girl was 15, only spoke German, and grew up in the area. ‘Are you in love?’ the children asked again. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked, still not sure what they were implying. ‘Uh! He doesn’t understand,’ they said. ‘I am not in love,’ I assured them. They weren’t buying it, ‘You are too in love, and you’re going to stay here because you never want to leave.’ At this point I realised they were not referring to any of the previous rumours. Though there was still at least half a mystery in their comments. ‘Would you mind telling me with whom I am in love?’ (I interject to say that I doubt my German was quite so impressive, with German using proper grammar is simply normal). Their answer was pretty simple: ‘Someone.’ It was then that I noticed they weren’t making fun of me. As the bus pulled up I started to wonder if what they were really saying was ‘You should stay here, and never go home.’ I wondered if it meant that they would miss me and that they would enjoy my presence in this place a bit longer. Luckily I was saved from all these cheesy thoughts by one of the sixth graders, who decided to take this time to ask me (in English) ‘Hey Keith, are you silly?’ Without taking into account how sixth graders think, I answered ‘No,’ which was immediately followed by ‘Doch,’ which is German for ‘Are too!’ only a little more all purpose, because sixth graders never actually ask questions, they just wait to tell you the right answers. I was then informed that silly meant ‘Dum’ in German, which is the word for ‘Dumb’ or ‘Stupid.’ Nothing snaps you back to reality faster than being made fun of by a sixth grader. Even if it is in jest.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Treatise (und mein Gedanken) gegen Grammatik. [A Treatise (and my thoughts) vs. Grammar]

The weather today was much more gorgeouser than it has been in a long while. The sun is shining, the birds chirping, and a gentle east wind is sweeping o’er the plains. My mood is much better than in recent days, though if I think too much a residual sadness nags at the back of my mind. It is wedged there mainly because I don’t want to think about it, but the reason behind it is the impending sense of leaving, yet again, somewhere I’ve grown accustomed to. (I know I know, somewhere to which I have become accustomed is the proper ‘Don’t end a sentence with a preposition’ way of doing things, but this is free verse.) As I have previously stated, some things about returning ‘home’ will be nice, but, frankly, I’ll miss the umlauts and the esstet. (ÜÖÄß)
Today was Wednesday, which means kid’s Klub (or Club, I am not sure how the official spelling goes). I admit that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, mostly because it is a nice day outside and it’d be nice to enjoy it proper. Now, as fate has a funny way of working things out, Klub happened one of the most funnest things I’ve done today. (apparently ‘funnest’ isn’t a word, so in spite I am writing the most incorrect: ‘most funnest’. It is a protest). The opening round included me playing Fußball (the table version) against a few of the kids. I ended up winning and bragging a lot, leading to the childrens complaining that I shouldn’t angeben (that means brag). I would’ve bragged also if I lost, as is my way. Then we cooked dinner as an activity and I joked with the kids. They were a little annoyed, but kids love attention really. I am sometimes critiqued as being a bit too sarcastic, but I like to think I know when to be serious. Anyway it was a lot of fun.
Gary and I also visited Treuenbritzen today. It’s a nice little German city, and we had coffee and I got some ice cream. Just cause I felt like it. It was pretty nice and relaxing.
School was okay, the highlight being one of the kids (Lukas, who I have talked about before) felt the need to scream my name as loud as possible not just the first time he saw me, but every time he saw me today. This was about 5 times, two only moments apart. Though the tone and volume were a bit on the annoying side, I think the thought was genuine excitement, so I let it slide. Not that I could’ve gotten him to stop anyway, as the kids never really listen to me (or so it seems). He also has taken to referring to me as ‘mein Keith’ and ‘mein Kumpel,’ the first being a bit possesive, but the second just meaning my buddy. I have many ‘Kumpel’s in the school, one even defended my honour on the bus today. One of the third graders was mocking me a bit, just in fun really, until another one came and punched him. Then he gave me five and took off to where ever he came from. Though slightly violent, it was a rather kind act.
All these nice things that happened today bring me back to that wedge of sadness that is hiding in the corners of my mind. They are all things I can process but not really think about, as they all lead to thoughts like, it’d be nice to see how these kids turn out when they are older. But the truth is that I most likely will never see or hear from any of them ever again. It is a bit of an extreme thought, but it is, nonetheless, realistic. Maybe it really is time that I stuck in one place for a bit.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Arrgh! Your mind has been corrupted, if you are using firewall software, you may have to disable it.
When copeing with losses, we often go through 7 stages (stages of grief, yea yea). If they are, indeed, true, then I am in the anger phase. A few days ago I would’ve claimed sadness, or perhaps even denial. Now it is more anger. I have been in a bad mood since Saturday, when I go stuck at boring children’s fest. It would’ve been okay had Gary been available to commiserate, but he was away on the wild goose chase of picking up the Russian Ladies Choir, which ended up taking from around 11AM until 3PM. Meanwhile I spent about 30 minutes playing with Ina’s children, and a long time in awkward conversations with my German ‘Opa,’ ‘Brother,’ ‘Father,’ and ‘Ina.’ I just felt like puting ‘Ina’ quotations (there I just did it twice). There were a couple other people who tried to talk to me and for a while I was keeping up. But I suddenly go struck by a bad mood, headache and lightheaded fit. It had pretty bad timing. I was sitting at a picnic table I had helped carry and set up, under a tent I help set up, when Ina came up to me. She asked if I wanted to take some pictures and I answered No, with a bit more malous and whineness than I orignally intended. Luckily it is not my normal disposition to refuse things or be mean and or whiney, so she could tell something was wrong. I explained I wasn’t feeling well and she had me go in Mom’s (Frau Förster’s) office and lie down. After 30 minutes of this I was feeling weird and didn’t want someone walking in on me and wondering what some weirdo was doing sleeping on the floor. I came outside just in time to see alot of children’s dance routines and a demonstration/comedy skit from the Gräfendorf volunteer fire department. They have a very old fire ‘truck’ in their possession. Atcually it is more like a horse drawn cart minus the horses. Instead the members of the fire department drug it around. On the cart was a pump of the variety you see on cartoon rail cars. The two sided up and down action kind, like on the Coyote and Roadrunner. This was used to pump the water. Let’s just say it didn’t really perform optimally. If there is ever a real fire in Gräfendorf, I hope they use something else. In the skit an outhouse ‘caught on fire’ (they just used smokebombs) and the fire department put it out apparently by spraying the crowd with water and breathing on the fire. The water never reached the outhouse, which wasn’t surprising seeing as the truck stopped a good 500 m from the fire. That turned out to be the second most entertaining 5 minutes of the entire day. The first was an accordian band playing Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown.’ (Of Arrested Development fame) Unfortunatly no magician was present. Shortly afterwards Gary arrived and we both fled from the event as fast as possible.
The major point is that the residue from that bad mood has lingered. The children sometimes get on my nerves, I’m tired of my job, tired of the walks from my apartment to the church to do anything, tired of wondering if I am understanding everything right. In short I am ready for a vacation. Or perhaps I am in the anger phase of dealing with leaveing and with this year being over. Soon I will have to decide what to do with my life, or at least the next part of it. I think that that too factors into the grief, part of me realizes that I am too old to jump from service project to service project. Despite my reluctance, perhaps it really is time to settle down, at least somewhere, and start working. It is simply alot of weight on my mind, which just makes me feel tired and cranky. And if that isn’t bad enough, even G-Mail has turned against me, delivering this message to me today: Arrgh! The page has been corrupted. If you are running security or firewall software, you may have to disable it.
I think Arrgh! Sums it up completely.