Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas, among other things

So, it's been too long since I put one of these up, but such is life. I would claim to have been too busy, but it's mostly that I kept forgetting, or putting it off on account of some big event that was coming up, and thinking to myself, "I'll write one after that."

Lots has happened! Things are going well, and I'm feeling good. I turned 24 a little under two weeks ago, and it was a pretty good weekend, all things considered. I was in Heidelberg dancing on Friday night, and I got a birthday jam, which was great. For the non-dancers reading this: a birthday jam is where the birthday person starts dancing with someone in the middle of a circle of the other dancers, and then people come into the circle and steal the birthday person one by one, so that you dance with a bunch of different people. It's a little more complicated in Blues, since you're often in close embrace, but you don't have to be, and so long as the dancers are conscious of that fact, it works just fine. After that I spent the night at the house of two good friends of mine, Merle and Lorenz. Merle dances, and the couple have hosted me about five times, now, for which I brought them a gift that weekend. As usually happens when I stay there, we talked until far too early in the morning (I think it was around 6 or 6:30 this time), and we also watched Planet Terror, which I thought was absolutely hilarious.

That Saturday I met my friend Ozge (another dancer) in the city and we walked around for a bit, and she bought me dinner at the student Mensa, or cafeteria, which was nice of her. It was neat to get to know her a little better. I then met my friend Anette, the teacher with whom I'm traveling to Denmark in just a couple of days, and we intended to go to the movies, but discovered that the film we wanted to see had shown the previous week, and not that week. So instead she showed me one of the popular old bars in the town, where we had a drink, and then headed to an Irish pub for another round (though she was drinking soda, since she had to drive), and met a trio of Arizonans who had just moved to Heidelberg for work. They were friendly folks. Then we drove back to her place in Mannheim and had some Sekt and she gave me the tiniest birthday cake in the world (a little Lindt chocolate), which was sweet. I was not about to ask her to drive me back to Rimbach, and there were no trains, so I stayed over at her place, and took the train home in the morning. On Sunday I just met with a friend for coffee, and then had a quiet drink in my favorite pub. It was an uneventful birthday, in many ways, but a good one.

The end of school went fine, though I still have a number of Klausuren to correct (such is life), and Gluehwurst was nice. The faculty got together for Gluehwein (hot mulled wine) and wurst and Anette stuck around and we walked around Rimbach for a while because there was.....snow! We got a nice coating of snow, which I claimed to be Germany's birthday present to me, and the town looked gorgeous. Anette and I made dinner together, and then met some other teachers in Bistro, a bar in town. She had taken the train (because of Gluehwurst), and so crashed at my place before taking the train back the next morning.

I spent the 24th with my friend Jana's family, and had a lovely meal and a wonderful evening meeting her grandmother and aunt, who were really sweet. Jana and her parents sang a song together, with Bernd playing guitar and Silke playing mandolin. I ended up singing The Christmas Song with Bernd, as well. Around 10 or so we went to the Sonne, and had a couple of drinks before all going home. It was a really nice evening.

The 25th I spent with Linda Johnke, who was the second guest teacher of the new generation, about 9 years ago, and her husband Mick. We had a great day, just relaxing, eating together, playing games, and watching movies. We watched the movie Paul, which I found to be hilarious. It's about a pair of British nerds (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), who go to San Diego Comic-Con and end up meeting an alien. It was great, especially for people who caught all the geeky references, haha.

Last but not least, I just got back yesterday from the Black Forest, Rheinhaussen specifically, where my good friend Dan Hiller lives. Dan was an Rotary exchange student in Janesville more than a decade ago, and has since been back a couple of times. The last time I was in Germany, I spent more than three weeks with him and his parents and sister in Schramberg. It was great to see him, and meet his wife Silvia and their 21 month-old son Noah, and their one year-old Swiss mountain dog Samson. We went out for Thai, and went into the hills to hike in the snow a little bit, and let Samson run around (he was so excited about the snow!), and then Dan and I also went and saw the latest Mission Impossible film, which wasn't bad. Incidentally, that also has Simon Pegg in it. Alas it was dubbed, but oh well. It was still entertaining.

Now it's just packing, and then off to Mannheim for a New Year's party, and then off to Denmark a day after that! I hope all of you had lovely Christmases, and have a wonderful New Year. :-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Of things that were, and things to come

So, it's been quite a while since I updated this, partially due at first to not much happening after Berlin, and then due to too much happening after Berlin.

I don't plan my blog posts out in advance, as you all may have figured out, so I'm attempting to recall precisely what all has gone on in the past month. A lot. After Berlin, I was correcting tests for the most part (took me longer than it should have, but now that I think I have the hang of it, the next ones won't be as bad). Then the MLS Christmas Concert took up most of the following week, what with tech rehearsals and the like. It went rather well, for the most part, though I am a little sad that the video I have of me singing "Call Me Irresponsible" with the Big Band is from the first night, since I (for some reason) had a music stand on stage, even though I didn't need the music. So I stayed more or less rooted to the spot and sang, and while I sang it all right that night, it wasn't as entertaining as I could have (and indeed, did) made it. The next two nights went progressively better, concerning my singing, and on the last night I borrowed a fedora from a sound techie, and sang in that, and made a proper show of it. It was a blast. I also sang with the choir, with the Voice Boys a capella group, and played with the orchestra. All in all it was a fun concert; the school's percussion ensemble put on an especially entertaining show. The conductor wrote a piece played on toys, and it was really neat.

That Sunday I also went to Heidelberg to finish planning out the Jukin' Blues intro I'm teaching with a dancer who lives there named Annette; she's a fabulous dancer, and I'm pumped to be teaching with her. It's fun to teach in a scene outside of MN, too. We taught our first class last Friday, and it went pretty well, though some people didn't show up. This past weekend was also a Solo Blues workshop with a dancer from France named Joyss, which was neat, and helped me in a number of ways, though some of the stuff we covered wasn't really my thing. It's really good for me to work on my solo dancing, though, and Joyss was an interesting instructor. I also DJed more than I ever had before; an hour to hour and 45 minute set Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. It was fun, and a good learning experience about DJing for dancers. I got pretty positive feedback about it, too, so that was good.

Not everything has been going well, since I was also kind of in an uncertain situation with a local girl, who was (understandably) back and forth about getting involved with me, since I would be leaving at the end of the year, though that is over now that she's interested in someone else. Still a little weird to hang out with her under the circumstances, but all things considered, I'm pretty much just over it.

Some of the things that help with that is making new friends! One of the fellows I stayed with during the Blues workshop was a Finn who lives in Amsterdam, and we had a lot of fun talking over the weekend. He also has an awesome name: Ilari. So that was cool. There is also a new teacher at the MLS (who is taking over for a teacher who is on maternity leave), with whom I have become fast friends; she's interested in theater and dancing, so it's not too far fetched. She even came out to part of the Blues dancing party on Friday night to see what it was all about. She follows well, too.

Of things to come: This coming weekend I'll be going to Frankfurt to see a friend I met in Brazil, so that should be a lot of fun.

I have another class test for my students coming up, this one being on the novel we're reading, The Giver, by Lois Lowry. It's a good book, and not too difficult to understand. I feel like I've been a little too easy on them with how much reading I've been giving them, though. Oh well. After that it's Christmas Break, which should be fun.

I will be celebrating the start of the break with the teacher dinner group that meets here and there, which should be fun. Then Christmas Eve will be with my friend Jana's family, and Christmas day will probably be spent Skyping with some people back home. After that I think I'll be heading to the Black Forest area to visit Dan, a former exchange student from waaay back when. I stayed with him and his parents when I was here last, seven years ago, and now he has a family of his own, so I'll be visiting them. And after that....Denmark! Another two exchange students invited me to Copenhagen, and the teacher I mentioned above had mentioned something about traveling together somewhere (she called it an intensive practical English course for her, speaking with a native speaker for extended periods of time, haha), and I suggested Copenhagen, so we're currently organizing that. I can't wait!

So, things are going well, all in all. I also just got a chocolate Santa from my neighbor for St. Niklaus Abend, so that's fun ^_^

I hope you all have a wonderful December and Christmas, and New Year (though there will probably be blogs before then).

Also, I turn 24 in less than two weeks. Weird. Dunno what I'll do.