august, 2001

Monday, August 6th, 2001, 25:29 AM

wisdom teeth out. healing's going well so far; just a little blood from time to time. had them done friday so today's the third post-operative day, and while i seem to be progressing well i still can't chew. this is a problem, because it means i'm drastically undernourished. i take in what i can -- which amounts to soup and strawberry shakes -- and then my stomach shrinks so i can't hold much more than that. a scrambled egg that my mom makes me (which i have to mash with my tongue against the roof of my mouth, instead of chewing) fills me entirely; noodles she cooked tonight (lots of work, eating those!) had me stuffed. i hate starving myself. i get so weak i'm fainting and just generally depressed.

on the other hand, though, i had fun with the operation itself. i was petrified beforehand, i think of the anesthetic. i'd opted for general because the stories i'd heard of my friends actually experiencing the orthodontists clank around in their mouths were not particularly pleasant. as it turned out, they were (a) very friendly and patient, and explained everything i wanted (which was so helpful -- i love when doctors do that), and (b) put me only very slightly under. but i had the most fun with the nitrous. i'd never had laughing gas before (no reason to), but i hallucinated strong colors and shapes during the whole operation, which was great fun. half of it was red, as i recall -- a huge wave like these graphs in the background, undulating under me, with just two dimensions -- shape and color. it turned green then, and when the dentists told me they were done, i was on top of a green wave, and hadn't even noticed they were extracting teeth from my head. the iv they had in me kept me beautifully right under the whole time.

and now i've been healing really well -- just started to chipmunk today, and tried an english muffin because i was feeling sanguine at lunch, but only managed half of it before the effort of chewing became too great. these drugs are making me weepy, and i can't take much food at a time. went to the store today for applesauce, fat milk (so i can actually get some calories somehow -- mom keeps trying to feed me beer, but i remembered abigail's reaction to codeine (i'm on a lesser drug, but still)), and red lentils for dahl, so maybe that'll keep me sustainted through this liquid phase. at least i have about ten muppet movies to keep me company, which i'm systematically checking out from the library, watching, and copying. the recipient of these tapes should get his ass back from the mediterranean and say hello, even if i am going to see him in six days (dude, it's been two weeks). and, while i'm bitching, i managed to lose root to orange the other day. just set it down hard, and voilà, root's gone, so i can't edit the files i need to network it. maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, August 9th, 2001, 10:21 PM

... Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements are as free as they are insignificant.

What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?

p. 5

Metaphors are not to be trifled with.

p. 11

During the journey, she made frequent trips to the toilet to look in the mirror and beg her soul not to abandon the deck of her body for a moment on this most crucial day of her life.

p. 53

... The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera.
(what else?)
wish i still had my underlined and marked-up copy, but it went to a worthy recipient, as did my first. oh well, i still have the last of three copies. :)

three days. metaphors are not to be trifled with.

Thursday, August 16th, 2001, 7:25 PM

reading, most of today -- gödel, escher, bach -- i'd bought him a copy at the beginning of the summer and then never got around to mailing it. he's eating it up now, lamenting that he didn't get his hands on it four years ago.

ecco domani, again read the label in the wine store this afternoon, as he picked up six more bottles of the australian traminer

cum riesling we'd had while watching more muppet movies the previous night. and the night before, except that was a sauvignon blanc. madison

is nice, but our mutual indecisiveness is slightly a problem. there was a good day (and some) spent lying around, not knowing what this town had to offer, or where to go or what to do there. ended up a couple days ago biking on the new bike

path they just opened, where they tore up the railroad tracks and paved it straight into fitchburg in one direction, and which is still being constructed in the other. at wingra park, a cherubic baby in yellow being spoken to by its german grandmother; mosquitos (sweet blood) everywhere; biked around the

rest of the lake, still having energy. bahn thai that night (i finally got to go into the [liquor] store with the big pink star as he picked out cheap-but-good whites); wasabi gestern abend with my dad and family. such good food. sukhothai tonight with la famille maternelle. gödelescherbach still consuming his attention in the background, acrostics in dialogues between achilles and the tortoise, and all the violin sonatas and partitas playing from the stereo. i want something, there are avenues not pursued but i know from the

ones that have been that it would just be futile, or only serve to hinder this zero-to-sixty thing we've got going here. bruises on my arms from wrestling (apparently i don't heal fast; the iv bruise from two weeks ago is still showing (though my teeth are almost 100% better!)). october twenty-first the american sinfonietta, replete with eroica and rictor, will crash in munich for a night, but apparently so will other people. goddamn it, ist dies schon wieder ein manko [...], daß wirklich an mir liegt? or am i justified in my reluctance? oh well, i guess that's a nice weekend shot. would have been nice. (besonders schwierig ist die situation dann, wenn eifersucht ins spiel kommt.) meanwhile, though, muppets, white wine, an upcoming weekend

chez anna, keep the time flowing. -- funny that now the time has to be "kept flowing," whereas in may it flowed all too fast. swat had stimulus ... i think i'm really going to miss that, and in that small aspect i can see the krise that was coming and that now is ... this itchiness was predicted, though (lotion / in two years i'm sure i'll be there, too) (no regrets). aber obendrauf hat er doch nichtmal eine ahnung, was liebe denn eigentlich bedeutet!

it's good to talk to anna, and also to cfanjul and jeanne, all three of whom are fabulous influences and resources, or whatever. vielleicht findet er irgendwann mal doch "die richtige". [punctuation outside quotes per the author's preferences, albethem incorrect in english.] i need to look at

train fares between these central-european countries; i need to, i suppose, keep up this waiting? damn, but it's good to have eyes back, to be able to communicate without the hindrance of aversions to phones and letters and all other media! hope, selbstlos, till december, no defenestration, and then

yet more distance.

Sunday, August 19th, 2001, 9:34 PM

still wishing i could major in three things at once. he says i can; i say i want to actually learn the stuff i'm supposed to be majoring in, too. he shut up at that [and protests he didn't hear it -- that was probably why :)]. the only reason he could do three, ish, is that they're all one. if you're monomaniacal enough, or if your interests happen to neatly coincide in a nascent, fascinating field (pick one at random, oh, say, cognitive science), then it works pretty neatly. given, of course, four years hard labor. but if you're going to have to weave them together yourself, and still get nowhere with each (come on -- music, ling, and math / cs / logic / formal systems, no matter how cool, are only so related). at lunch today at stir crazy, make-your-own with weird sauces and more than we wanted to spend ... he jumped on a pole outside the japanese place that was originally proposed, waiting for don dini, pushed me around in a wet shopping cart until it nearly tipped, picked me up over his shoulder and spun around in circles (me begging to be put down -- for the same reason i don't like roller coasters), swing around the pole and bit me, hopped on my shoulders, and nearly wrestled me to the ground ... and he wonders why leaving the box of nerds at home was a good idea. today a lunch, after don had showed up, the japanese place been proclaimed closed, martin and my desires for eggs and pancakes ("pan-cakes! pan-cakes! (wo-man! wo-man!)" -- animal-style, was chanted) declared and ignored (hey, whatever; we'll make them tomorrow, or go out to mickey's -- funny that there are no diners to speak of in the deerfield / highland park area ... today at lunch, after we had settled down at stir-crazy and into our respective stirfrys, don said something about combinatorial algorithms. martin dismissed it, knowing already what it was, but told don he could explain it to us (gesturing to the girls -- wasn't his phrase, but happened to be the two humanities (/ social sciences) majors at the table). ah, tact. oh well; i wasn't mad as he thought, but just frustrated that i can't zip through gödelescherbach at the pace he is, that i can't take any more cs classes at swat, and that i do have to be explained these terms. and i'm not fluent in german yet! :( and that i still can't fix a computer to save my ass. (depends on the kind, i guess ...) right now i'm coveting a tangerine ibook, as i have been for a while, but this time to install debian on. hehe. for vienna, i guess i'm trying to rationalize it. i'm leaving in what, five or six days? fewer than that. cool. better pack before things go crazy. i want a green canoe and mm a little bit more. i want a forum to say what i'm thinking but i'm not sure there is one, right now. corn fest today, sweet corn stuck between our teeth in sun prairie, a boxful but we couldn't finish more than three ears each. cream puff for me afterwards. drove down to anna's this weekend in my dad's clunky car; rattling above certain speeds on the highway. made him drive the way back. it's not yet his yellow convertible, but the drive was fun anyways. a can of coke to clean the palate before the corn, which added extra salt. bowie wouldn't work on the cd player, so we turned it off and the same song was on the radio. oldies station once we reached the madison broadcasting area. speaking of late december, january, weinachten, berührung. dude, man. i need root to my own brain.

Samstag, 25.august 2001, 15:52

brushing my hair this morning was a lot easier than it was yesterday afternoon, but i guess that stands to reason. 150 km/h down the autobahn in a yellow convertible -- luggage and boy collected after a three-hour wait in the münchner-flughafen, complete with a garbled message sent through telex -- hair flying. a friends' mother once told me that she used to have hair longer than i do, and she once rode cross-country on a motorcycle with her boyfriend, no helmet, and her hair was in one big knot at the base of her neck after that. not quite that bad, but it did take a good half-hour of combing to return my ever-growing mane into something manageable. this morning it braided smoothly.

this language is slow, as anticipated. what i didn't foresee, however, is actually how much of the patterns and general structure of german i've picked up in the past eight weeks. i still lack a huge amount of vocabulary, and i have yet to understand a single word to come out of his brother andreas's mouth, but i get about half of what martin says (even though his grandmother complains he speaks too fast) and most of what his aunt says. minus about half the words sometimes, but usually all i need is context. i'm glad i have this week and some before hitting vienna in all its dialecticalisms, accents, and immersion in a language in which i can order beer but still can't really hold a conversation to save my ass. all with time. meals are a little mentally taxing, when i don't yet have to speak german to be understood, but when it would be much more polite to, especially when his grandmother has no english. i find myself reverting to the gestures and facial expressions as a cover for language -- i'm smiling much more demurely and much more often than usual, not saying complete sentences when i am fully capable of uttering more than a monosyllable, and feeling generally ... well, not like a younger child, because every kid has a native language. just kind of stupid. wish i'd had more german before, if only for the vocabulary, but really, fuck it. i'll learn fast. meantime i'm just a little quieter than usual. and while i had the excuse yesterday of jetlag, today it really doesn't hold anymore.


pizza for lunch on the way in -- in the airport, when i was wandering around aimlessly trying to figure out why martin wasn't where he'd said he'd be, i bought a telefonkarte and was in the process of trying to figure out how to use it (goddamn combination telekiosks -- wouldn't accept my credit card or the phone card, and it should have taken both) when i was paged. despite the telexed message from frankfurt, i managed to find him two hours later, wandering around looking for his luggage. the phone card came in handy (cell phone = handy in german, for some unknown reason), though, when he pulled onto (not next to, but onto) the sidewalk, and called the pizza place in gauting from a pay phone. the cheese pizza for me (they warn me all the time that a vegetarian isn't going to survive in austria) had bleu cheese on it, mm. arrived and, after pizza, suddenly became very upset about four simultaneous things. curative nap. so far, aimless napping, water-piping, lots of music (yes which begins with the firebird every time; omnipresent bowie; jean-michel; gorillaz -- the usual), geeking ... configuring shit, leaning heavily on his few hundred (well, not quite ...) computers scattered throughout the world as temporary servers and backups and email clients ... pool last night with his australian friend chris (whom he blames for his melting-pot english accent), and i finally had his much-touted limonade mit weißbier, for which i also blame my utter failure to win a game except by an opponent's scratching on the 8-ball.

perhaps naptime for now. with five computers in this room alone, i've got enough geekiness to last me from here to austria.

Sonntag, 26.august 2001, 21:19

i like yes. only heard a little so far, once in the basement of lodge deux when he put something new on, and started grinning when i looked up frantically from whatever i was doing after a few seconds, recognizing the end of stravinksy's firebird suite, which i had just playing with the philly youth orchestra. i told him this was not a band, this was an orchestra. tja, apparently it's the way they open all their concerts. coolness. so right now we're on a progression through all the cds -- he bought 30+ of them off some guy who was going broke and selling his entire collection once -- and we're onto fragile, when i recognize track 2 and make it repeat three times before he gets annoyed and makes me go on. i've played it within the past year, and i can't fucking recognize this piano reduction. must be brahms.

i may not be being immersed completely in the language, but my monosyllables at meals are still sufficing for the experience for me now. i think i said "westlich" and "manchmal" and "nein, danke" at lunch today when left briefly with his aunt and grandparents, in responses to questions. it's not exactly small talk or forwarding the conversation -- i hope that, when i come back, i'll be able to be a better guest, smalltalklich. while it's certainly not a problem per se now, i'd just like to be able to converse and not feel stupid about the hours it takes me to construct a full sentence sometimes. and sometimes not. ich lerne, manchmal schneller, manchmal langsamer. (look at me, i'm even punctuating german-like now!)

oh my, in case we needed further proof of martin's geekiness (and no, we certainly do not!), how would you like to be one of his brothers? from madison, he knew that his brother had taken the network card out of one of his computers and put it in his own, because it was still on the network M had set up; now i have a real-time picture of me typing open on the screen, a tiny webcam pointed at me from a clip on the stairs that lead up to his loft, and his brother wonders why he knew he was in his room and got his parents to lock it. there are four computers lined up under these flying stairs, all attached to one monitor and one mouse and keyboard, with a switch he got on ebay. this video window, i believe, is an attempt to play NTSC (american-format) videos on piper -- formerly "yellow," the computer he let me re-format into a linux machine and then donated for my use this summer until the hard drive crashed, he transported it as luggage back to deutschland, and installed a new motherboard. this will be his muppet machine? ha. and he can record with it. geeeeeeeek.

right-of-way sign biergarten just now. out in andechs, a small town surrounding an old convent -- couldn't go in the church because of a mass, but with the dog (bobbie -- huge, affectionate giant schnauser) there, that was probably for the better. eine ganze Maß limo[nade]+bier; bretzel mit käse, ein stück käse, das man mit Salz ißt; zwei gurke (pickles), und radischen -- huge ones! turnip-sized, and cut in curlicues, which you yield sign also eat with salt. he said it was a touristy place, that it used to be better, but hell, that's enough of an atmosphere for me. i got to drive the convertible there (yellow 2001 peugeot, in the unlikely case i haven't mentioned that before!), and though he was doing a good job of not being stressed, you could tell that he was very scared for his baby. especially since they don't really have stop signs -- (well, one or two, but) for the most part it's just yellow diamond ("right-of-way") and yield signs without the world "yield" on them, which mean the same snow alert sign thing. i confused them once and though he didn't say anything until i was through the intersection, ich weiß, daß das ihm streß macht. even though i have been driving longer than he has despite the 1.5-year age difference, hehe, due to the ridiculous strictures of german driving laws and the complications of getting a license. i'll learn the road signs and then try again. it's a damn nice car, though! not as much power as our little subaru legacy, but it shifts much smoother, especially down, which i never do much on mom's car, because of the bumps. it's slick and i want one. he has a monkey (sheep! sheep! don't tickle me!) hanging from the rearview mirror (but sheep aren't brown ...).

yes, as it turns out -- brahms' fourth symphony, movement III, and it's only an extraction and piano reduction, but in the middle of a yes cd! i like this band. eclectic and not even spanning one genre. "progressive rock," he calls them, but apparently he puts the beatles in the same category, which he kind of defines as "not in a category; iconoclastic" (paraphrasing). it works, i guess. "cans and brahms"; hehe.

Mittwoch, 29.august 2001, 20:51

übergeek shirt there are now six computers in this room, which is a little excessive. but then again so was eating three raspberries (hinbeeren) at once yesterday, or so he said. but hey, ce que ne nous tue pas? he's making firewalls in preparation for his job starting monday. yesterday into the city for the unofficial tour, which included a while watching a psychotic street-accordionist, who played a mixture of folky and tangerine dream -y music; a stop at a department store to buy me a ridiculous box of kleenex (you would never find kleenex with jojoba extract in a black box with a picture of a very pale woman wearing huge black swaths of makeup on her eyes in the states), a camera battery, mädchenseife (scent: "grüner tee" -- i smell funny to myself now, but i think it's a good funny), two cds for him -- ella & louis' porgy and bess, and marlene dietrich's best of; and a märchenbuch for my birthday present! (not for another, what, three weeks and a day, but i doubt i'll get up to munich before then. i was almost surprised that i didn't get carded at the marché where we ate dinner. got a commission when m ordered dry white wine and we got sweet. this is all after trying to walk the dog on roller blades, with which my only previous experience had been emilie's putting me on the top of a curvy hill in the middle of madison, pointing me downwards, and saying "good luck!" ha. harder than ice, and i still can't stop. clubbing last night, at a cute élite club "the atomic café" -- he wasn't sure we'd get in; he only does half the time. but apparently we were dressed right ("brit pop" was the style we were going for, he told me), or something, and we spent the night dancing like i haven't since i left swarthmore. fun shit. the other night, i watched fascinated as the drops of rainwater from the porch railing fell onto my finger, and then down the nail in the twilight. finally got enough in my blood, and we sat on the balcony for a while, me grinning stupider than usual. as i said before, fun shit.

also, was gibt's denn? not like the above says anything. chilling in and around munich. i go to vienna on saturday, i guess. he's got to prepare for his job over the weekend, so i'll take a train over and hit the pension early? sure, why not. my german still sucks but i can do what i have to in it, and everyone speaks english anyhow. even the cashier at the place where we ate dinner last night mistook martin for american when he was speaking english to me. i can understand more than i speak, by a long shot, but i always miss the main verbs in sentences, or the gist of the conversation, for some reason. if martin wants to translate for me, i don't feel like mustering the energy to discourage him. i'm very happy to have this week of german exposure before vienna, no pressure.

says my pension's webpage: "internet and e-mail services are now available for guests in the Lobby" -- hehe. guess what this guest will be doing in her free time.

canon digital elph i'm sure i'm going to want a digital camera in vienna, like anna's. damn that i can't decide on a format! i like my old, standard one, because i like having physical pictures to put in albums (well, when i actually do put them in albums, that is!), but i won't have a scanner in vienna. not that i know of, at least. i mean, if we're talking realistically, i wouldn't have access to a computer with an interface to whatever digital camera i might have, either, so neither would help me put my pictures online from the city, but still, i'm coveting. mine is ancient and clunky (by which i mean 10 oz and probably 5 years old). (i just weighed it on the cool balance they have in their kitchen! this house is six years old, built new and beautiful, all the wood a light grain and matching cupboards and shelves throughout the house, thick beautiful rugs on wooden floors (most of which we just rolled up because bobbie the doggie is bleeding), marble countertops downstairs (although i must admit, my mom's is still the best-designed kitchen i've ever seen, and she designed it herself), and a damn cool coffee machine and an electronic balance that hangs off the wall, on which i just weighed my camera -- with the option of metric or stupidamerican, hehe.) but ja -- camera -- maybe once i'm rich, and can buy a laptop to (a) configure with linux, and (b) take all over the world with me.

there is so much music i want! better figure out how to duplicate cds wholesale with my burner under linux ... or come into a lot of money, and soon. 2raumwohnung kommt zusammen. portishead dummy. yes fragile, & tales from topographic oceans. moby play. much much more that i can't think of off the top of my head right now. i think i'll set up a cds page ...

damn, english is such a lingua franca! i'm realizing this bit by bit, and it's so weird every time i do. vienna calls its airport not the "flughafen wien" but the "vienna international airport" (well, okay, while their domain is, the title of the window is "flughafen wien"); when martin had to call his father in spain this afternoon, he spoke english to the hotel clerk. it makes sense to have one, i know, but it's almost discouraging when it's your native language. much harder to immerse yourself in another one.

i have to stop drinking coffee in the afternoons. it seems like such a good idea at teatime, with cake, and then an hour or two later first my head starts to hurts, then i get a stomachache. fortunately abendessen was exactly what i was craving just now -- good brown bread with different cheeses, and an eiersalat. i'm growing to love this bread.

Freitag, 31.august 2001, 17:20

random german phonological fact: in colloquial speech (where no one distinguishes between [s] and [ss]), you can't tell the difference between the questions

  • what is a sheep? (was ist ein Schaf?) --an animal
  • what does a sheep eat? (was ißt ein Schaf?) --grass
  • what eats a sheep? (was ißt ein Schaf?) --wolves
-- all transcribed roughly [vas Ist ain Saf] (where S=ash)

and, for that matter, you can't even tell the difference between the second two out of context.

this is only possible because das Schaf is neuter, and therefore would have no difference between the nominative case (used in the second sentence) and accusative (used in the third). this would also work with feminine nouns like ducks, but not masculine ones, whose pronouns distinguish between nom. and akk. cases.

also, i am told that the 's' and 'ß' differ in pronunciation -- the first is just a regular [s] sound, and the second is really a geminate [ss]. this has been reflected in the spelling reforms the germans are trying to implement (Fuss for Fuß; ich weiss instead of ich weiß; usw.), which are largely stupid and have failed to catch on.

ah, fun with language. wish i'd started learning german when i still had access to a german linguist, henrike ... oh well, am figuring out properties by myself now. it'll be fun to come back in the spring and read pinker's chapter the horrors of the german language in words and rules. it'll be fun to come back to swat in the spring, for that matter. martin's started denying that he went there, which annoys me a lot, for some reason. (well, the reason's evident, it's just one metalevel up, and i don't feel like operating on the plane these days.) but walking the dog last night (she came with both of us, but i have to bribe her with a doggie biscuit to come with me alone) he said, you know, i could be jealous, that you have two years left. yeah, a good place. my roommates are moving into the barn currently (joel-o, it's kaiserschmerrn, the viennese dish you were talking about -- we ate it last night for dinner), and it's cute to read their postings about preparations and the new frosh (class of '05 already! i'm only '03 but that means a junior, the people i really looked up to when i was the lowest rung on the ladder), cleaning the barn (weird dreams about that last night -- i dreamt i shared a huge room with two baby grands on the top floor with julia trippel ('01)), moving in, and reconciling themselves to what is said to be the hardest year (although i've heard many juniors and seniors disagree with that!). cuteness. reminds me of myself last year, moving into lodge deux ("nee chez nori," ross references my beautiful basement, now with new, male (!) occupants). but damn, i'm glad i'm here in europe for the duration. it's very similar to the states in many ways, but there's enough foreignness to keep me stimulated. i lost 1 DM today when i failed to retrieve the deposit you have to put down for a shopping cart (paid it back, $0.47, electronically); you have to bring your own shopping bags or carry shit yourself (we did the latter). i'm still a college student and he's technically right now unemployed, so we could justify the contents of our shopping cart: 1 bottle sweet white wine, chips, italian corn-ball snacks with cheese flavoring, the closest germany gets to ramen (asia-nudel-snack), haribo (gummi bears), orange juice, four strawberry joghurts, and two tubes odol-med (german toothpaste to which he converted me between february and may this spring). in preparation for whatever happens tonight -- movie, clubbing, whatever. depends on if i'm feeling less sick. it's not bad, but there's enough pressure in my head, and i'm snuffly enough, to make clubbing distinctly un-fun if it doesn't alleviate.

yesterday he forgot to switch the voltage on yellow, which he'd just carried back from the states, and blew the fuse. small explosion, but nothing kaputtgemacht.

gemüse und kartoffeln for lunch. wonder what i'm going to eat in vienna ...

all this ©nori heikkinen, August 2001

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