End of Day

The evening has started and I’m curling up with my TV quiz shows. I used to think that only “old people” watch those… which is probably true. But shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune do help in language learning. Since I’m done studying (for now), I don’t make enough time for acquiring new language skills (actively). Of course I learn and practice every day through interacting with native English and Spanish speakers, and I feel that English has become more than a second language to me. When I first started watching Jeopardy, I didn’t even understand the questions… and they are sometimes still over my head, but I’m getting better and am ecstatic whenever I know an answer the contestant doesn’t. Even if I have no idea what drawer I had to pry open in my brain to find that kind of information.

Speaking of old… I got Chinese takeout the other day and the fortune cookie reminded me that age is a matter of feelings, not years. What a stupid thing to put in a cookie! I expect legitimate wisdom, not something I already know. And not enough with that, but I made sure to throw the message out with its Chinese leftovers. Apparently, I wasn’t thorough enough: After the dishwasher was done gurgling and splashing and puffing, I put the dishes back in their respective resting places. One fork had a message for me though… It was like the fortune cookie had looked at me while I read it the first time and thought to itself “No.. nope… She didn’t quite get it yet. She thinks she has, but… we have to take a different approach here”. So it attached itself to a utensil and survived several cleaning cycles. What a trooper! When I pulled out the fork, I saw that cookie message looking up at me, in hopeful expectation holding its imaginary arms open, yelling “Tadaa…Huh?! Huh?!” Yeah, well, fork you too!

I watch a lot of Netflix shows as well. Most of them in English, some in Spanish since I don’t want to lose what I’ve worked on for so long, but a lot of idioms and structures comes back quickly. Most of my languages I expanded passively by listening to and watching shows (after I had built a good basis abroad). I don’t have to interact with my Netflix shows (although I do) and I have yet to finish The Walking Dead, Twin Peaks, Bates Motel, and The Killing (perhaps a bit one-sided at this point). But at least I was able to scratch Haters Back Off and Saving Banksy off my diligent Virgo watching list.

Reading… yet another list. I’m still working on Stephen King’s IT, but should finish it within the next week or so. I’m really hoping it will end better than it is now… I’m fighting through each page and just hanging on after 500 pages because I’ve committed… I can’t abandon it now that I’ve gone past the half-way mark.

Running, Body Pump, workout classes in general and cycling: My bike has been broken for a couple of months now and I dearly miss it. It’s sitting head up in a room with the washer and dryer and waiting for its destiny. That bike has carried me across LA several times (Pier to Disney Hall and back), up my favorite streets, along the beach as well as to work and back. He’s my buddy and I will fix him (said every girlfriend ever).

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 27: Something that makes you feel better

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Those Six Words

An assignment we received in the writing class I’m currently taking was actually fun and comes in handy right now. I remember way back in Middle and High School (either country, Germany or the US), I wasn’t a huge fan of writing assignments, but once we were allowed to be creative, I almost couldn’t stop. Hemingway created the six-word story, which is exactly what you’d think it is. You’re supposed to tell an entire story using only six words. Not nine, not four, exactly six. This way, you’re supposed to jog the creative side of your brain. I still find his example incredible:

“For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” —Ernest Hemingway

or

“Longed for him. Got him. Shit.” —Margaret Atwood

 

So here is my contribution:

 

  • Slurred words in sleepless nights. Forever.

 

  • Returning in darkness; pink neon signs.

 

  • Dried the rainy road with blood.

 

  • Turned to see myself. No reflection.

 

  • Walked the dog; not my own.

 

  • He left. Me: Wanted for murder.

 

  • Skin on skin: Fried chicken Thursday.

 

  • Turned up radio, drowning basement screams.

 

  • Sun in my face. Almost alive.

 

  • Tonight, you get to be me.

 

  • I approach the surface. Frozen lake.

 

  • Follow for follow, like for hate.

 

I noticed that most of these are dark or dramatic – probably the most fun or intriguing as a writer when it comes to these exercises. It’s incredibly difficult to form entire stories because you have to think yourself into the mind of the receiver/ reader and assume that he knows or doesn’t know the context of your thoughts. You can’t just assume that he knows or understands, but you can’t suggest he’s an imbecile either and spell everything out for him. It does help jog your creative thinking, however.

  • Give it a try! No regrets. ;)

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 22: 6-word stories

Me no Speak DMV Americano

Trying to get your ducks in a row can sometimes be an extra-challenge – especially when you live in a country that runs on your second language. Even if English was my first language, it would not have made a difference whatsoever in this case. I am currently attempting to receive my California Driver’s License. It’s time!

As a “proper” German as some may say, obeying instructions and making plans, I double and triple checked the website of my local DMV. I originally obtained my driver’s license in Connecticut as a teenager, after overcoming my fear of driving in general next to my nervous mother and impatient, yet most loving stepfather. I then did my German driving test (written and behind-the-wheel), once Germany did not accept my CT license. Now I’m in CA and it’s time to be more Cali.

So, I was checking the website of my local DMV. Of course there was no option that specifically indicated “previously attained license in different state, exchanged for license in different country, now back”. It advised me to obtain an “original driver license”. Ok, I can do that. Not my first choice, but whatever. In order to get an “original driver license”, my DMV writes the following boxed in a pretty red color to underling its importance: “If you are making an appointment to visit a DMV field office to obtain a California driver license, please select Field Office Visit Appointment below in order to schedule your appointment.”

Sounds easy enough. “Appointments are required for all original driver license applications.” Got it, ok. I absolutely HAVE to make an appointment. I got to the according “make your appointment” page (calling the DMV is not an option since it usually results in more question marks, so I figured, I’ll just do it online), and enter my name. The next available appointment for my purpose is April 21st (that’s about 2 months from now). Hmmm… I try a different DMV, maybe it’s just my city… the next available appointment there is May 22nd (we’re not getting any closer).

Then I read this: “However, same day service is available at driver license processing centers (DLPC) without an appointment.” Ooooh, excitement. Great! I can just stop by one of those DLPC’s if I get there early enough. The next office is about an hour away from me. So, I decide to rent a car for the weekend and hope for the best. Besides, I rent a car with my German license about once a month, so if I just get in the written part this weekend, and the driving part another time, it’s totally fine. Waste of money, but totally fine.

My Spanish friend, going against all my German warning signs, responds to me after I desperately asked her if she would accompany me on this driving test adventure, and says she would love to. I get another message from her, asking if I can’t just go to my local DMV and ask for a driver’s license. I had planned everything so carefully, for a day and a half, I had read every sentence on that website and understood it. I had used the hyperlinks on the website; I had gathered all my papers. I can’t just go to the DMV and show up – what are the appointments for? In my head, I smirked, thinking “she hasn’t read all the information – I read everything at least twice; I have all the information the DMV is giving me and I don’t want to waste my time waiting in line for nothing”.

As you can imagine, that smirk quickly turned around and bit me in my organized, German, little butt. Turns out, nobody goes to the website, phone calls are answered by a machine, and probably half of those queuing at the DMV don’t even speak English.

I didn’t understand at all.

So, they give you precise instructions on what to do, how to do it, and when to do it… And then they turn around and say “ooooorrrrrr, you can NOT do everything we just told you – and just stop by”.

Proper me, nervously shifting my weight from one leg to the other, stood in line at the  DMV, no appointment, and panicked because I spotted EVERYONE else carrying filled-out applications. THERE WERE NO APPLICATIONS ONLINE – WHAT THE F*** AM I SUPPOSED TO DO? It took us about 20 minutes in line until it was my turn, the lady gave me an application to fill out, a number that shall appear on the screen and I waited my turn.

Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer…

Anyway… I walked out of the stone cold brick DMV building 30 minutes later with a piece of paper with my name and mug shot on it, preparing for the written test the next day.

I should’ve known. For now, I’m just glad I didn’t spend money on a rental car and an early morning on a freeway to go somewhere I don’t need to be. How Californian of me.

(#My500Words Day 10)