letting the days go by.

25 January 2008

sometimes i just wanna dance.

Well, babies, today was our last day of January classes here at Ye Olde Goethe Institut, and I didn't go because last night was the farewell Goethe party and I passed out at 1 a.m. after wolfing down two hefty Nutella sandwiches and hallucinating that I was in Major 211 with cold, stolen General Tso's all over my fingers. But more on that in a moment.

Ich habe Angst fuer naechstes Monat - only a little fear, but still, this month's class was so fantastic, I can't imagine it could be topped. I haven't enjoyed going to school as much as I did these past three weeks since probably 1st grade, when we had mandatory "drawing time" and Mr. Oliphant taught us about crustaceans. Our professor, Frau Lukasch, was consistently a riot, completely easy to understand (though the classes are 100% auf Deutsch). Namely, it was the people, so here's an inventory of some of the choicer characters (an idea I lifted off Rob - good writers steal, right?):

Terada-san, my table mate, 61, Japanese. Whacks people at random moments, including me, frequently. Often gets out of his seat to whack someone else. Completely Japanese. Sets new records on the scale of awesome and insane.

Pawel, Russian, probably only 30something but imbued with enough Russian Melancholy to double that. Always talking about how awful Russia is. Has beautiful handwriting, which I found out today when he gave us all Russian gifts and letters explaining them (no vodka for me, but I do have a sick Russian goblet now). Could have been a fishmonger in a past life.

Darko, 25, Bosnian. Sat directly in front of me, and I consequently memorized the back of his head. Eyes that dart around constantly and terrible eyesight - held his textbook an inch from his face. Borrowed my German copy of "The Little Prince" and read it twice-through (I'm on page 11). Always wore blue. The embodiment of Bosnia's war-torn past.

Bernardo, 19 maybe, Brazilian. One of the contingency of Brazilians that made all the Goethe-partys complete shitshows. Enjoys dancing with me. Often hungover.

Ana, 18, Venezualan and Adnan, 20something or maybe 30s?, Saudi Arabia. Unlikely pals, but they've both been here for at least three months. A stoner and a doctor, respectively.

Reira, 19, Japanese. Hair that stood up on its own. Could be mistaken for a 12 year old. Gets drunk on half a glass of wine. Fantastically crooked teeth, incomprehensible accent, flawless grammar. Fan of dancing, even when sober. One of those people I wanted to shrink and keep in my pocket.

There were others, of course - Lin and Jing, the mandatory adorable Chinese girls, Jin from Korea who hardly ever spoke, my Vietanamese table mate Le, and the 3 other Central Abroad students. Everyone's off to their respective homelands now - February classes start in a week, and I've got a train-riding tour of Germany and a 21st birthday to have before then. And there will be much drinking and dancing, I assure you.

It's pretty surprising how much this whole experience has resembled college. Last night, at the farewell Goethe Party, we pre-gamed with a bottle of coconut rum and by the time Daft Punk came on, I was a well-oiled dance machine. They may be horribly noisy and probably dangerously insane, but the Brazilians sure know how to get down. I'd had a hankering (OH YES, A HANKERING) for a dance party since Tuesday, when we rode back from Rothenberg and I was listening to The Knife, pretending I was in the Keehn FacApt with the strobe light blinking, and I think I got all my dancing demons out for now, but they are certainly there within me. Afterwards, we went on a drunk hunt for food - the equivalent of a 3 a.m. Diner run - and though we failed, it was still familiar and fantastic. Sang the entirety of Paul Simon's "Graceland" en route, ended the night lying on the dormitory stoop, the same way I once lay on the steps of Root Hall as a wee Freshman, concentrating on making the lights stay still.

Rachel's Soon-to-be-Patented Dance Theory: Dancing is one of those true tests of friendship - right up there with farting and cigarette karma. If you can dance around somebody, just hopping about like an idiot and not caring how stupid or sweaty you look - that's when you know it's solid. Being drunk helps, of course, but I've been jumping on furniture and getting my boogie on since I was a youngun in an Oklahoma living room - one of those deep and simple and very real things that matter, somehow.

I embark on the Grand German Tour tomorrow, so this blogalog will be neglected for a week or so - but I shall return, mos def, with absurd anecdotes and epiphanies and photographs galore.

21 January 2008


There's an incredible, inexplicable amount of pressure and stress that comes along with going abroad for six months. I'm constantly aware of the passage of time, and it's always been a bad habit of mine to write lists and schedules solely so I could ignore them (I did that in class today). Right now I'm justifying the fact that I'm supposed to go to the local art museum in half an hour but I'm not going to, sitting here instead listening to Califone and writing, maybe taking a Kaffeestunde afterwards to spend some time with my written journal. Besides, I'm here for another month, and a solitary wander through a museum ist besser als ein Umfahrung mit einen grossen Gruppen.


If I were better with formulas and logical thought-processes, I'd totally take a Linguistics course, because honestly, languages make no sense. Today we learned the German form of "had had" - as in "If I had had more time, I would have posted earlier." Look at that sentence - FIVE verbs. The mathematics of grammar will never cease to astound me. Nor will my unfailing ability to think like a 5 year old - "What do dragons eat?" asks the teacher, as we're discussing fairytale vocabulary. My first thought: "PINEAPPLES." Or today, with sport words - "What animals do we use when we go riding?" "UNICORNS."

This weekend was also hysterical - on Saturday, Annie and I bought a "Pretty Weekend" train ticket, which lets you ride as many damned trains as you want for an entire day, all over Germany, but, as we had no map and no real plan, we ended up half an hour outside of France. We saw a lot of train stations but not much else, unless you count the charming town of Schwaigern, which is actually just a field.

Then, on Sunday, I volunteered to help a local university student out with her thesis project about redefining the national dish (the deeper point being, if you can't name a nation's dish, you have to question the nation's identity - is the "American" food burgers and a milkshake or apple pie? BBQ? Diner Breakfast!?). In reality, we were wearing aprons and chef hats and surveying people in Rothenburg, a medieval tourist town with more Japanese than Germans, and Heidelberg, home to the best castle ever, where we went wandering when it got dark and hell yes I felt like a hobbit. All in all - hilarious. I went because it was a free trip out of Schwaebs, and Tommy went because I made him - the Germans we were with were very nice, but we clearly had some communication issues. At dinner, we ended up comparing the names of insects in German and English - because why is it a "ladybug" or "dragonfly"? No sense. When I got back, my brain was still in German mode - and I have to admit, of course I feel some sense of pride knowing I'm in a foreign-speaking country, and that I can make my way in the native language. My vocabulary's pretty sporadic, but still, I feel like I'm getting a lot more out of being here than I would in Great Britain - we'll see how I feel after visiting Poland. Which is happening next week?

Mein Gott - alles sind Quatsch. Were did this month go? Can I have it back, please?

Classes started at Hamilton today. Happy semester, bros and brosephines. I'm just going to sigh and stare out the window for a while now - and tonight I'll pour one out for you.