Thursday, March 31, 2011

What do the Germans eat?

Since the day my Mom gave me a confirmed date of her trip to Germany (around the first days of January, I think), I began planning every little detail of her trip to Europe. She's coming along with my sister and my bati-cousin, Mariano, and they are two extra reasons to make an already amazing trip more fantastic. You might think I'm kidding, since you might be one of the readers who (a) does not know me, (b) does not know the new me, who plans every single minute of every single day, or (c) does not believe that I am actually as plan-phillic as I am making myself to be... well, to all of you, I am not kidding. I shall not attach it here (for the sake of my seeming to be a normal person, with sporadic unplanned events in my life... [I plan sporadic events, btw...]), but trust me when I tell you that my Excel table with 17 days of traveling around Europe is something to be proud of.

I have chosen countries, cities, landmarks, parks, specific events and tours; I have planned visits, tea-drinking (which is of course only a matter of speech; there might be coffee or Apfelschorle drinking) and cookie-eating (that is of course not a figure of speech - there will be cookies. There shall always be cookies), and spazieren-gehen and other types of activities. There will be sleeping-in (scheduled, of course), there will be lazy-time, there will be staying-at-home-time, and "unplanned time", which is of course planned.

But I have to admit I've had a little trouble with one tiny, kleine issue... What will I feed my family? I've recently learned to cook (recently = past 8 months), but I specialize in Colombian cuisine, because Honey and I like feeling we're somewhat at home. But my family lives in Colombia and they eat Colombian cuisine every day; and as much as they'd like to see me cooking (to get living proof of my cooking), I don't think they'd really, truly appreciate it. So, then, of course I think, "We have to feed them German food!"

Which brings me to my little pickle: What do the Germans eat?

The Germans love pizza, and I love pizza, and my Mom's favourite meal is pizza, so that's an easy one. Except - oh, wait, pizza is not German. Dismissed.

The Germans love Dönner, and Honey looooves Dönner, and my sister will love it, so that's another easy one. Except - oh, wait, Dönner is not German. Dismissed.

The Germans love hamburgers (especially in Hamburg - ha ha! See what I did there? It's a joke!), and everyone loves hamburgers, so that's yet another easy one. Except - oh, wait, neither McDonald's nor Burger King are German. Dismissed.

The Germans love Bratwurst, but I can't imagine feeding my Mom a sausage. I can imagine feeding her a hot dog, which I know she loves, and she will especially love the German kind. But those are not German, they are Danish. And if I'm going to feed her anything European, it will be either pizza or [insert German food here]. Nothing Danish! Unless we go to Denmark... which is not in my initial schedule, so I doubt it. But I can revise...

The Germans love... uh... pickles. My sister loves pickles. I think. But I can't feed her just pickles for dinner.

The Germans love... Kartoffeln. But we have over 1,500 different kinds of potatoes in Colombia, so I don't think my family will be particularly nuts about potatoes.

The Germans love... Rotkohl and Grünkohl (I'm not even sure that's how they are spelled...), but, again, those are side dishes, I can't just feed them vegetables. We need a dead animal with those dead plants!

The Germans love... yogurt. But my Mom is not a fan of yogurt, and after my operation I've experienced problems with yogurt. Also dismissed.

So... yeah. What do the Germans love? Please send me your suggestions! Otherwise, I'll have to feed them sandwiches with Emmentaler, Jarlsberg, Tilsiter, Mozarella, Gouda... and, yeah, it will be amazing, but I can't feed them sandwiches for three weeks!

Bitte, helfen Sie mir!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Give me my honorary deutsch Staatsangehörigkeit!

The most important part of adpating to a new culture is embracing it, and acting like the natives do. Like, if you live with gorillas, you should pick their skin too and eat their little lice. If you live in a nude community, you should walk about bare. Bare naked, that is. If you live in Germany, well, you have to do as the Germans do. Monkey see, monkey do.

For starters, if you want to be German, you have to go outside at the smallest sign of a ray of sunshine. If you want to be German, if the temperature goes above 0°C (and there is the aforementioned sun), you have to go outside. If you want to be German, if there is the tiniest sign of baby flowers blooming (and the aforementioned sun and the aforementioned +0°C rule), you have to go outside.

You see, being outside is very important to the Germans. It's very important because you can almost never go outside! According to the Gregorian Calendar (the calendar we westerners follow), Winter goes from December to February. Not here. Winter begins late September and ends late April... if at all. So, you see, enjoying whatever sunlight there may be is a big deal to these people. To us, I mean. Because I'm one of them now.

I'm one of them, because last Sunday we rode our bikes. We rode our bikes all 4.8 km uphill to Mönkeberg. It was sunny, so the rule was clear: we had to go out. But also, it was really sunny, so we had to go out with our bikes. That's another thing the Germans do: they ride their bikes all year long. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, rain, hail, sleet or snow, these people are always on two wheels. We rode our bikes 4.8 km uphill in spite of it being only 5°C. Oh, we were so German on Sunday. Of course I complained about it all the way up and all the way down, but the Germans have no rules against complaining. I have to do it, but I don't have to like it.

I'm one of them because I dress like them. I should have taken a picture, really. Somewhere in Brazil and somewhere in Hamburg, Cris and Cata are giving thanks to the Lord because I finally took off my winter panties and left the house with thin hose on - purple hose, for that matter. And a mini skirt (mini to the point that leaning forwards or knealing downwards is too revealing) and a matching purple sweater. When I told Honey that I felt like a little clown, he said that I looked very German. "That's how they dress", he said. And I asked him if he liked it, and he said yes. Two birds, one stone.

I'm one of them because I think like them. I'm one of them because I speak like them. I'm one of them because I eat like them. I'm one of them because (as of April 11th) I go to their universities.

I'm one of them. I'm one of us.

C'mon, Angie. Give me my citizenship already!

Success in Germany takes 8 months

I would have said 9, which is more accurate, but unfortantely no one can read "9 months" and not have "baby" thoughts. So, 8 it is.

Success in Germany takes a while, in any case. And with that, I mean academic success. And also, by "success" I mean "ability to start studying in a Universiry" - I'm just implying that, not even having begun my German course, I have already finished my Ph.D. Aim for the sky, right? Ha!

I finally took the test thingy. And I did good! I think so, at least. And someone told me it's all in the mind. I know they didn't mean this precisely, but "all" means all. And I think I did good, then I did. Because me and my mind say so. I get my results on Tuesday, I register the following Thursday, and the following Monday I begin my German course. Again. But this time, I will be a University Student. See how I capitalized both words? That's how awesome I will be: I will be a university student, with itallics and capital letters. If all goes well, I should begin my Masters program in October... which is in English. Which  brings the question, why must I go through a German course for a Masters in English... well, because I live in Germany. And when in Rome, dress as the Romans do, right? 

Anyway. All is well in the world again. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

test

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Monday, March 21, 2011

If it's not baroque...

I don't need fixin'. I'm allowed to complain, I'm allowed to feel uncomfortable, I'm allowed to not feel good. Also, I'm allowed to express my discomfort out loud. You're allowed to not like my whining, and you're allowed to whine about my whining. It's your prerrogative: my rights end where yours begin, and viceversa.

What you're not allowed to do is fix me, especially when I don't need fixin'.

Some people think they need to fix everything and everyone, and that they need to provide answers and solutions and fixin's. Dude, if I want your answer, I will ask you a question. It will be direct and straight forward. It will be impossible to miss. It will be something along the lines of, "What do you think I should do?" Then, only then, I want you to fix me. Otherwise, leave me alone.

You might think that, if I don't want your answers, I should not ask you questions. Well, that's the thing: I'm not asking you a question. In fact, I'm not asking a question at all! What part of, "My skin is dry..." is a question? I don't need you to scold me about my using the wrong lotion, the wrong quantities, the wrong application mode, the wrong time of day... What part of, "I'm feeling kinda hot right now..." is a question? I don't need you to mock me for feeling cold just a few hours earlier, I don't need you to throw in my face that I was born in a Caribbean city and that I am not "allowed" to feel hot, I don't need you to even acknowledge my comment. What part of, "I want something, but I'm not sure what..." is a question? If I have a craving and I can't identify it, odds are you won't identify it for me. Shut up and let me think.

I hate being evaluated, and I hate being given answers to when I haven't asked for them. I don't need fixin'.

What happened to the good old-fashioned conversations? I have to give public kudos to my sister here, she is the best for that: she is awesome at having normal, non-fixin' conversations. To my "My skin is dry..." comment, she would reply, "Mine too," or "Mine isn't". To my "I'm feeling kinda hot right now" comment, she would reply, "OMG, me too!" or, "Really? I actually feel pretty damn good." To my "I want something, but I'm not sure what..." comment, she would reply, "Agh, me too. I hate it when that happens. What do you have here?" My sister has never tried to fix me. In fact, even when I ask for her opinion, she kind of takes the easy way out...

I like her honesty, though: why would she try to fix me, when she herself is not fixed?

None of us are fixed. We all have issues. We all have problems. We need to fix ourselves before we can even pretend to fix others.

Sometimes I just want to be heard. (Or read.) I wrote an email to my best friend this weekend, and it had a very important editorial note: "I'm just ranting..." That meant, "be prepared to read about 10 pages of me going on and on about stupid stuff that I can either avoid and choose not to, or fix and choose not to, or take some other positive action that I also choose not to take, just so that I can continue to rant... so don't try to fix me. Just read." He gets it. He's actually very polite when we talk (talked) face to face. He will either ask permision to offer a "fixing" comment (which I will usually deny), or he will go along with it. I love him for that. When needed, however, he will politely yet poignantly fix me. Or at least point out my mistakes in need of fixin'.

Of course I've done nothing but rant in this post. That's the beauty of Blogs. I can write whatever I want. And when the comments come in, "You know what you should do...", I can just delete them. That's what I should do.

Because I'm not baroque. I don't need fixin'.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Wonderful Combination

Being sick sucks. Wherever you are. Sick is no good. Especially if that "wherever" is away from your Mom. To be perfectly honest, unless your Mom has a medical degree and can prescribe antibiotics, Moms are not good for much while you are sick. They can't get you the good, make-you-better-stuff; they can't magically take your illness away; they can't cure you.

But they can make you feel better. Because that's what a Mom does. They just make you feel better.

So Honey was sick last week (which explains my being sick now) and I tried my best to make him better: I made freshly-squeezed lemonade and orange juice, I made chicken soup, I did everything I could for him, I kept him in bed all the time... and it was not until Monday, when he spoke to his Mom for over an hour, that he felt better.

I've been sick for a couple of days now, but I spoke to my Mom today. According to my calculations, I should begin to feel  better anytime soon...

Anytime...

Anytime now...

But, since I'm super brilliant and pro-active, I did what my Mom would have done if she were here: I bought whatever flu medicine I could find over-the-counter, took the maximum dose allowed, and I am now writing my last sentences before I pass out.

Mom and NyQuil... what a wonderful combination.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Test DaF

Before going into the details of the test, which is what this post really is about, I want to say a word about the test names.

What's the deal with test names? Is there an International Test-Naming Committee for international tests that need names, maybe called the InTeNC? Why must we have an IELTS or a TOEFL? Those are tests for non-English speakers, so why must they be given names that even native English speakers have trouble pronouncing? The Test DaF is not difficult to say, but silly. It makes me think of an incomplete Daffy Duck.

Anyway.

In  a couple of weeks I will be taking the Test DaF - exactly in 14 days. The Test DaF is a test that measures the test-takers' ability in Deutsch (German language) als Fremdsprache (as a foreign language). I'm kinda glad it's named after it's German initials; were it in English, it would be the Test GLaFL. Not the G-L-a-F-L, but the /gla-fl/, all said together, as if it were a word. Like TOEFL is a word: toe, as in a finger in your foot, and fl as in, well, fl.

The test is fairly easy. Easy, I mean, if you can master German. Which I can't. Not that I haven't tried, because I have. Look at my problems: first, I have to know the words. Let's make it easy: door, house, table --> Tür, Hause, Tisch. Now I have to figure out if they are girls, boys, or gays: die Tür (girl), das Haus (gay), der Tisch (boy). Once I have that mastered, I have to wait until whatever I want to say, to make sure I decline it correctly. For instance, anything with die in Dativ is der, so sometimes the girl becomes a boy (dike? tomboy?); sometimes a boy becomes something completely different. Like, when I say something is on the table, I should say it is auf dem Tisch. Not der, not die, not das. Dem. And I also have to explain: is it standing on the table, like a bottle would, or is it lying on the table, like a document would? Yeah, you always have to clarify for the Germans. On the table is just not good enough.

Enough. I don't master that, and that's gonna be a problem.

I can, however, read pretty damn well. In the reading section, I am actually quite confident. It's not difficult anyway. They just want to make sure I can read at a high-school level. Which I can. Even in German. But then there's another part, the part where I have to listen to a couple of conversations and answer questions about them. It's all good with the practice conversations, where the speakers speak fluent, perfect, accent-less German. Slowly, carefully, eloquently. But of course that's not the type of conversation one would get on the street. No, on the street they speak quickly, with very strong accents, and don't enunciate at all. That I have a little trouble with, but I can survive. And since that is exactly what I'm going to be listening to on this part of the test, I have tried to engage in conversations with real people, out there. Too bad I have had to smile and nod so often.

The written section is of course going to be a problem. Not only do I not have a rather extensive vocabulary, but since I don't have the dativ, akkusativ, genitiv and nominativ thingy down, I am bound to make mistakes with every single noun; and those that I don't screw up will be due to sheer luck.

But the spoken section--dude, I got that covered. Speaking fast enough, I can der-die-das anything, and decline it appropriately. Also, I throw in a little English here and there, as the real Germans do, and I just seem so fluent. So eloquent. So German.

I'm about to do a sample test right now. I should be OK. I must be OK. Otherwise I will make a fool of myself in two weeks.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Sometimes I feel like a motherless child"

I took a singing class when I was in college. Gotta love American universities: you have to take some science, some math, some language, and some art. For the "some art" category, you can take photography, sculpting, acting, playing an instrument, singing... Well, at first I auditioned for a play, but got rejected because my accent was not Southern enough. In all honesty, it wasn't. It's never been. It never will--unless "Southern enough" suddenly means Southern like down in South America. In which case, given that Colombia is the first country in South America, is also not Southern enough (that would be Chile or Argentina, I guess). In any case, after being completely offended for a few hours, I read the whole play (not just the part I read at try-outs) and realized it was the story of three Southern sisters (GA girls) who had a very Southern  life. I understood then that it was impossible to "hire" a Latina (regardless of how accentless my English were) for a Southern part. It would be like hiring Julia Roberts to play a Latina or a Brit in a movie...

Anyway, my second choice was a voice class for beginners. In retrospective, it was awesome that I was not taken for the part in the play, because that class was an awesome experience. I've always thought I could sing. I was even encouraged in this belief when I was in middle- and high-school. I used to get picked to represent my class in the Song Festival. But, again, in retrospective, I kind of nominated myself because no one else wanted to do it. One year (maybe 10th grade?) my classmates actually said, "Give someone else a chance". I did (unwillingly, furiously), and though I had (have!) better stage prescence than did she, she did (does) sing much better than I ever did (will do). I'm not being nice nor polite. I'm being as honest as I can possibly be. I wonder if she reads my Blog... if she does (which I doubt), she will be surprised at my humility. She had no idea I had that. Neither did I. Humility, I mean.

OMG, anyway! I took this class. One of the songs we learned to sing was "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child". It's a nice song to sing, because you start out with a very low voice, and then slowly rise to your highest tone. However, the lyrics are so sad: Sometimes I feel like a motherless child // a long way from home; sometimes I feel like I'm almost gone // a long way from home. To me, these lyrics embody the greatest amount of sadness. What can be worse than being a motherless child? I cannot imagine. I don't want to. Being a long way from home is also terribly sad. Feeling gone--dead?--is another horrible feeling. And then, again, being a long way from home.

My sister always has awesome songs for the soundtrack of her life. Mary Poppins come up once in a while. I don't have a soundtrack. But, for some reason, whenever I'm feeling down, this song comes to my head. It does, really. I actually realize I'm sad because I hear myself singing (or humming) this song. It doesn't bring back any particular memory. It doesn't particularly remind me of anything. I just feel the sadness of the notes, the sadness escalating as the tone rises, the sadness of the lyrics...

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.

A long way from home...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's up with this March thingy?

I guess one particular answer is that many couples were getting frisky during the summer months, and thus we have so many births this time of year. Seriously, only in my family: my mom, my sister, my uncle, two aunts, three cousins. But aside from the celebration of births, I also "celebrate" deaths, yet not as a happy thing. Just as a day to remind me how much I miss the people who are no longer with me. But then there are also the catholic holidays--gotta love us catholics--with our celebrations for a million saints. One in particular, whom we celebrate by drinking. Binge drinking. Extreme binge drinking. No wonder my sister has not spend a birthday sober for the past 5 years, since she and St. Patrick have their date in common. And then, since when did we start celebrating Carnival in March and not in February? Since when is Ash Wednesday in March and not in February? What is this overwhelming over-use of March? Also, March is supposed to be the beginning of Spring. Where is this Spring everyone talks about? I know April showers bring May flowers, so why is it raining in March?

Just felt like ranting, I guess...

Monday, March 7, 2011

How to speak German - Intensivdeutschkurs in nur eine E-Mail!

I've been here for a while now, and more than trying to learn the language, I've been trying to learn how to SPEAK the language. You see, it's one thing to be able to read and listen in German, but it's another thing, a completely different thing, to be able to speak in German. There are certain hints that I've been able to catch up on, and I plan to share them with the world, so that I may be one of many who attempts to speak this verrückte language. Ready? Set? Go!

First of all, in order to speak German and sound like a German, you need to lower your voice by like 3 tones. Try to pretend you're making fun of a male Opera or Mariachi singer -- yes, that's how low your voice has to sound. There are a few phrases that require an extreme lowering of your tone:
(1) Ja, which means "yes", but when you really, really mean it, it sounds almost like a "yo"--not a rapper-like /yo-oo/, but more like a /yoh/ kinda thingy.
(2) Es ist mir egal, which means, literally, "it's the same to me", or "I don't care", and the less you care, the deeper your voice has to go. Also, you have to say it real fast: essmiregaaaal, and elongate that last a for a minute or two.
(3) Was ist los?, which means "what's happening" or "what's up", but you have to lower your voice and say it super-duper fast, wassls? in order for the Germans to know you really want to know what's happening.

Secondly, in order to speak in German properly, you need to understand that these people give genders to their nouns (a noun is a person, place or thing, just in case...). It helps if you are fluent in another language that also uses genders for nouns, like Spanish. Only that in Spanish it makes sense, and in German it's just verrückt. In Spanish, for instance, the sun is el sol, because he is powerful and burns, and the moon is la luna, because she is weak and feminine and pretty. The Germans got it all umgekehrt: they think the sun is a girl, die Sonne, and the moon is a boy, der Mond. In Spanish we believe snow is pretty and cute, and thus should be la nieve; these Germans thing snow is strong and evil and masculine, and thus it should be der Schnee. Bottom line, if you know Spanish, assume all gender articles will be opposite.

Which brings me to my third point: The Germans don't only have der and die (masculine and feminine, respectively), but also das. What's das about? It's neutral. Not masculine, not feminine--it's the drag queen of determined articles! So, here's the rule: whatever article you decide to use, you have a 33% chance of being wrong--and you will be. Whatever article you choose to employ, you have a 1 in 3 chance of messing up--and you will. Whatever article you assign to a noun, you have a one-third chance of failing--and you will. So just try to use a real fast de, which will sound close enough to der and das, and for die, well, that is also the plural determined article, so use it only in plural cases... even then, you might and will be wrong. Give up.

The fourth point in learning how to speak German, is your acceptance--without questioning--that there are sounds you had no idea existed. Now, if your first language is English, you're saved, because you crazy English-speakers over-use the schwa, so you all know about using weird sounds. However, if English is just one of your foreign languages, you might have to come to terms with the umlaut. The umlaut are the two dots on top of an a, ä, an o, ö, or a u, ü. When there is no umlaut option, they write "ae", "oe" and "ue", respectively. In order to properly make the ä sound, give your biggest smile, teeth glowing and all, and say eh. A real short eh. Of course, you cannot confuse the /ae/ sound in German with the /e/ sound in German, because they are completely different. (I will die without ever hearing the difference, but they Germans swear they sound nothing alike). In order to properly make the ö sound, pucker up and try to make that "I'm not sure what to respond so I will just make an awkward sound" sound, /eehh/, but remember to keep your lips puckered up! Also, the sound should come from deep inside your throat. And finally, in order to properly make the ü sound, keep your lips puckered up, and try to say /ee/. That should make for a weird little show now, you puckered up and making weird sounds in front of your computer.

Fifth, it is of vital importance that you don't assume letter sounds. For instance, when you see an "eu", that will never sound /eu/, it will sound /oi/, as in boy. When you see "ei", it will sound like a long /i/, as in I, or sky or thigh. When you see "ie" together, it will sound like /ee/, like skii, or be or bean. Also, this is quite a long sound, so if you exaggerate it, you just might be saying it right. Lastly, "er" together will never sound /er/, like hamburger in English. No, no. It will sound like an /a/, as in cat or bat or hat. That's why we don't say Berliner, but rather Berlina; we don't say Berger, we say Berga (my sister should be cracking up by now--also, Spanish speakers should find this funny...).

Sixth, the Germans have a whole bunch of useless words in sentences, put there to mortify us Ausländer who speak deutsch als Fremdsprache. You will find words such as mal, denn, noch, doch, aber, which are all useful and meaningful words when used properly in a sentence; but the Germans use them as filler words. Was ist das denn? does not mean "What is that then?", it means, "what's that?" But they have to be cool, you know, and as for English cool is shortening words to tiny and almost meaningless syllables, for the Germans cool is to expand sentences with useless words. Don't try to break down a sentence when a German is talking to you. You will go insane, look insane, and probably appear quite rude when pretending to correct them. (I'm talking from experience, ok?)

Seventh, you won't be able to understand what a German is trying to say until they get to the end of the sentence, because the verb--more often than not--goes at the very end of the sentence! There are some cases where the verb goes in the second position, but the Germans love using modal verbs (can, may, should... and a couple more that escape my mind), and using two or three is possible in the same sentence, and this means that the real verb will go at the end. So, in English we would say: "You should be able to do those twenty exercises in order to be ready for your test tomorrow" -- and you know that, whatever it is, you should be able to do it. That's what matters: that you should be able to do it. The equivalent sentence in German would be something along the lines of: Um bereit für die Test morgen zu sein, diese zwanzig Übungen sollst du machen können. WTF? I forget what we're talking about by the time we reach the first verb!

Finally, don't expect that the German you learned in the Goethe Institut, or in your Deutsche Schule, or with your own private Herr Müller to be at all useful in the streets. You see, us Ausländer are taught that you can never leave a Modalverb alone, you must alway accompany it with a verb, and that verb should go at the end of the sentence. However, the Germans have a phrase that drives me insane: Was soll den das? It means something along the lines of, "what does that mean?" or "what is that supposed to mean?" You say it when you don't understand something and are quite furious about it. Like, the bus did not stop in my bus-stop, was soll den das? Honey was home late and didn't call, was soll den das? The price for cheese rose and I had no clue, was soll den das? The problem is, you can't use a modal verb without another verb at the end! That's what we learn in class! That's why I spent 3 months, Mon-Fri, 5 hours a day, in a classroom last year! But no--the Germans don't speak properly... yet expect us to do so! Was soll den das?


However mean, rude or impolite I may have sounded, it really is a compliment to the Germans: anyone who can fluently speak such a complex language, is a genius. Not that I had any doubts about my being a genius, but it is nice to be proven right once in a while. I take the most important German-test of my life on March 28th. Hopefully my 3 months in an Intensivdeutschkurs, and my 8 months living here, and my self-made German crash-course will help me ace this test. Otherwise... well... we'll burn that bridge when we get there.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Little Ray of Sunshine

I've been a little unfair to Germany and the Germans lately, and for that I publicly apologise. I tend to write only when I am trapped at home due to the inclement weather (well, ok, as Cata said, Wahrnehmung is important, and gray, foggy and under 0°C is inclement to little Caribbean me). I tend to write only during these days and of course I tend to write with the mood that this type of days gets me into (OMG, please don't have Canuck read this post and accuse me forever of being the only English major in the world who finishes a sentence with a prepostion... which I technically didn't do because the sentence ends now, without a preposition). (Although, ending a sentence with "preposition" is just as bad as ending a sentence with a preposition, right?)

The sun does shine--once in a while. And when it does, I go out. I make excuses to go walking, or shopping (without Honey's knowledge or consent, because we're supposed to be saving for my birthday...); sometimes I sit in the living room with the windows open (ok, with the window open, singular; and only a little open, because though sunny, it is still around 0°C) and enjoy the sun. I baske. I breathe in the Vitamin D. I absorb every little bit of UV rays. I take it all in and feel as if a little bit of my heart and being--the ones that were  frozen during this inhumane winter--start to slowly bloom. Again, like Cata's flowers.

We actually had a nice weekend, a nice sunny weekend. The temperature rose to +7°C, and I felt at the beach. We even lowered the heating in our apartment... It seems as though this week will be nice, too. Although my iPhone is threatening with rain and sleet by mid-week. I don't trust him (my iPhone) anymore; not in terms of weather, anyway! I still love him.

I hate to admit this, but I am actually starting to see little baby-flowers all around. They are still just buds, but there is a difference. A noticeable difference. I hate to admit it because if I admit it, I'll get excited; if I get excited, I'll get disappointed: I'll get disappointed because it won't be like my summer back home (year-long summer...). But it will be spring, and then it will be summer. It's a cycle, it has to come, eventually.

And when this eventually comes around, I'll be anxious and ready. Be aware, though: I just might be one of those Europeans that we so often mock, lying naked on the grass in a public park enjoying even the tiniest little ray of sunshine.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How do you stop a recurring nightmare?

So, I've been having this recurring nightmare for about 10 months already. It doesn't come as often as it used to, but it comes often enough to be recurring. At first, it used to be night after night. Now it's more like once a week, or every two weeks. It's not always exactly the same, but the same situation happens and the same people are involved. Settings may vary, but the same thing ends up happening. The situation, although unlikely (I hope) is quite possible. What I mean to say is, my nightmare does not include demonic clowns coming from under my bed to kill me (actually, I've always thought there are crocodiles under my bed...), nor is it anything supernatural or including aliens happening. All of us involved are human, with human feelings and human actions.

The first thing I do after I have these dreams is try to calm down (I wake up crying sometimes) and realize it is nothing more than a dream; everything within that dream (though likely) is impossible. I am in [insert current, real life location] and not in [insert scenario from specific dream], though it would be plausible for me to be there. I am with [insert person in real life] and not with [insert dream person], thought it would be plausible for me to be with him/her. And, most importantly, IT did NOT happen. It was a dream. A Nightmare. A bad one albeit, but a nightmare nonetheless.

The second thing I try to do is talk about it, because I am firm believer in the fact that you can't tell your dreams or wishes or else they won't come true; so the idea applies to nightmares: tell them and they won't come true. But I find myself a little embarrassed talking about such ridiculous nightmares, so I don't talk about them often. But I say them outloud, if that means anything. I mean, if I tell a secret and no one is there to hear me, did I still tell it, or did I keep it? If I eat a chocolate and no one sees me, did I still gain weight? If a tree falls down in the forrest and no one hears it, did it still make a sound? For my intent and purpose, yes: if I tell my dream out loud, even if no one hears me, it's said. Period.

The third thing I try to do is analyze it. But I suck at that, because I only turn to the analyses that make me feel better. If the dream is directly related to something that happened the day/night before, then I take it to be only my unconscious' repercussion of past events. Like, if the clothes I was wearing or the couch I was sitting on are the same as in real-life recently past events, I dismiss it. If I react in ways I recently saw on TV, I dismiss it (in my latest nightmare I was physically attacking a friend, which I saw in a Dr. House epidose last night). The other type of analysis I try is the Freudian approach: dreams and nightmares tell us our deepest, darkest fears, conscious or otherwise. Well, there's no challenge there: my nightmare is, in fact, my deepest, darkest fear (actually one of two of my deepest, darkest fears). So there's nothing to analyze there, Herr Dr. Freud. Also, Freud would go as far as to say that I want to have sex with my mom or my dad, or with someone's mom or dad, so I ignore the rest of the Freudian theory.Yet another analysis is dream interpretation, which I find not at all appealing, and also not at all credible, since it's so open to subjective interpretation. Like, if a baby is born, then that means death. Well, people die. The only requirement for death is life, so it's kinda inevitable. And more than  likely, we all know of someone who dies... A death, on the other hand, means a birth. But again, people are born all the time. The only requirement for life is, well, absence of life. So chances are, again, we all know someone who is recently born. Also, there are differences in the interpration of babies: if a baby is born to me in my dream, that means one thing; if it's born to someone else, it means yet another thing. The funniest interpretation I got was "marriage": it means either a death or a birth. WTF?

The fourth thing I do, and I realize this is completely useless, not at all beneficial, and in fact has a very negative impact in my state of mind, is wallow, ponder, think and re-think, go over and over it again and again. And I feel terrible, I feel sad, I feel used, stupid, impotent... And I hate it.

What happens in my nightmare is plausible in the sense that people change, and change happens. But it is completely impossible given my current life, which is, for all intents and purposes, perfect (among its many imperfections). Also, the person(s) involved would not do that to me in real life; I think. I hope. As I said, it is, after all, plausible. But highly unlikely.

I think.

So... yeah... how do I stop this recurring nightmare? I am welcome to all suggestions, ranging from heavy sleep medication to being a man and sucking it up... as long as you think it will work, I'm up for trying.

But please, do give me a suggestion.