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Location: United Kingdom

Some people know me as OrangeBlossomer because that's me on Twitter. This blog is a random collection of daily musings about life and stuff I love, such as journalism, dog (sadly my dog died in 2010 so probably no more), women, love and lack of love, boobs (only seldom but it does get me extra online traffic), taichi (I practise) and spirituality (should practise more). I have a day job as a jetsetting publishing foreign rights manager but I am also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and a writer/columnist at heart. Writing is my opium.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

I am in a weird/crazy mood today, so I thought I'd post a blog just for the heck of it.

I was convinced the Media Law mock exam was scheduled for today, but it turns out I got my dates mixed up, and it is actually next Tuesday, not this week. Phew...! I'm glad I thought it was today though, as it forced me to start some serious revision since Sunday. The real final exams are looming in the horizon - early July is not that far away - so it was high time I got stuck into the books and handouts and make sure I don't panic at the last minute - me being a professional procrastinator... LOL!

I had been stiff with tension the past few days because I was so behind with my revision. The pain on my neck and shoulders was getting worse by the minute. Okay, these are just mock exams, not the real things, so even if I fail, it is not the end of the world, and I don't need to panic. BUT....try telling me not to panic if I manage to fail my mock exam:

If it wasn't enough that "student nerves" were getting the better of me, my boyfriend's best friend's wife came to visit from Germany, and is staying with us for a full week. This very affable lady can hardly speak a word of English. Which was fine until last night because HE was here to keep her company and talk to her in his fluent German while I nodded and smiled politely by his side, great ambassador that I am...

I must add a footnote here that I have about 10 years of German behind me, and, at one point, my competency in the language was enough to hold a conversation on fairly serious subjects with a native speaker, usually the teacher (Lol!). It has been years since I last switched on the Deutsch cells of my brain, however, and the possibility that I may have to be forced to formulate full sentences this week in a rustier-than-rusty German when my brain was bursting to aching point with journalistic legalese was simply too much to contemplate. By Monday night I was feeling physically ill at the prospect, and I knew it wasn't just the idea of taking a test, even if it was a make-believe one.

I just felt like shrinking down into a teeny little person and disappearing into a hole - please ignore me; I am not here.

No exams today. That was a relief. And, psychologically, the fact that I am now finally AHEAD in my preparation for the mock next week, gives me a moral boost. I don't even mind now that I only slept 4.5hs last night and that I felt so disturbed, I dreamt that my mother was trying to meet with me, but she was emaciated, looking grey, just skin and bones, dying of terminal cancer. I woke up with a nauseating sensation in the pit of my stomach. Aah, the things stress can do to you!

The journey home from the college today should have been a relaxed one after such an intense 24hs, but deep within I knew the real test, as it were, was still to come. Tonight, my bf is working (a night shift), so I was to entertain the German friend. Alone. Make dinner and eat with her. Sure! Kein Problem! ......errmm....NOT.

Call me a chicken if you like, but having overfried my ever so fragile grey mass with journalistic legal matters, the last thing I needed was to come home and have to play the perfect polyglot hostess in a mad language in which all the verbs and particles come at the end, and every concept in the universe, that is to say, all the nouns, have got 3 blooming genders: masculine, feminine and neutral. Not to mention that adjectives have declinations - the kind of knowledge expectation that, in my humble opinion, should be restricted to Latin-speaking clergy and researchers of ancient lingos such as sanscrit.

If there is one useful thing I have learned in the past couple of months, apart from how to write and sub-edit news stories, is that two of the most useful words in the English language in a situation of extreme stress are - excuse my French - "f**k it"!

I would even daresay it falls outside the "expletives" category. It is more like an interjection, much in the same way as an Italian would spontaneously blurt out "Mama mia!" in the face of adversity.

And so the 2-worded French saved my life and helped me improve, or should I say 'improvise', my German tonight. There was no way out. I could not pretend not to see her and go to bed without having dinner just to avoid the situation. I could not expect the dog (who is also German) to translate for me. I could not sit there and say nothing all night - those are not the kind of manners my mother taught me (if I behaved in such a way, she might waste away, as in my dream, from shame and embarrassment).

Therefore I did it. I said F** it, and the fear instantly disappeared.

A sudden memory of morphine being drip-injected into my body after a major abdominal op a few years ago came back to me. The pain gently dissolving with each drop... Sweet oblivion. Now I'm on a high.

I made spaghetti bolognese. And a salad. "Ein Salat!" Luckily, spaghetti in German is Spaghetti, so I didn't have to consult the dictionary before announcing dinner. "Spaghetti und Salat". Plan A was to bombard her with questions to keep her talking throughout dinner and thus avoid being on the receiving end of them. The latter could be potentially embarrassing, especially if I mis-understood and she's asking, so how was school today, and I'm saying, yes, it's bolognese. My listening comprehension - Hörverständnis - has never been too good.

Yet, Sod's Law dictated that as soon as we sat down to eat, she wanted to know all about me and what I thought about this and that. Darn it. I am the reporter here. I ASK THE QUESTIONS; do you mind?

It wasn't to be.

On to Plan B... Darn, I didn't have one. F** it! ("Ad lib! Put all the words you know together and concoct a story, even if it's not true as long as it is grammatically intelligible...") In my panic, a stream of pidgin German came pouring out of my mouth like lava out of an erupting volcano. The only way I could trick myself into believing I hadn't lost fluency without any alcohol to lubricate my tongue was to keep my mouth moving, und not juzt wiz spaghetti eating. Ja ja - ich kann gut Deutsch sprechen!

You get the picture.

I can assure you telling my life story with German subtitles was a somewhat slow and painful experience I hope I will not have to repeat for a long time.

An hour later, clean plates, and we were still talking... I had set my mental stopwatch for half an hour, after which I intended to stand up and start washing the dishes as a subtle signal that my vocabulary repertoir had expired and she should now retire to her room. But nearly an hour had elapsed, and she was laughing at my jokes (or was she laughing at my poor vocabulary?!), and - to my horror - started drying the dishes. I couldn't remember how to say, "why don't you go upstairs and watch TV while I do the dishes" in German, so I let her carry on.

F** it.

I think we're best friends now.

Moral of the story: sometimes we just have to let go. Give up resistance. Open up. Let whatever is waiting outside come into your moment.

And laugh.


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