Our German teacher has us saying the words Cherry, Church and Kitchen in German. They all sound the same, she asks if we can hear the difference — it’s how you clasp the vowels. We can’t. It’s a “ch” sound that starts but never terminates, just hangs there.
Our German teacher is Polish, no bullshit. There’s no time or patience for students who haven’t done their homework, who don’t want to learn. Either you do or you don’t. You’re too busy? Don’t want to hear about it.
There is a glint in her eye when we talk about special verbs, the irregularities. These are the small things we covet, the exceptions.
I get paired with the high school girl with the bouncy-leg-syndrome who’s taking German because the languages in her high school are too easy; she’s downloaded an app that gives her the Perfekt case on her phone.
There is Vince, also a teacher, who often wears a tie and I swear, he’s laughing at things he’s thinking to himself, muttering half-Deutsch phrases, doing cartwheels in his mind.
We fall over, time and again. When I was trying to learn handstands, we did it against the wall in an Iyengar studio in North Seattle. I kept bouncing off the wall and falling over on myself for about two weeks. Then one day I just did it, I balanced on my head, and held it. I dreamt about it the night before, experienced the sensation before I did it for real, it had gotten that bad, that obsessive. You have to let go sometimes to make things happen.
I go through the whole animal-behaviorist thing: that which I’d mocked and made fun of, I’m now part of the system. We paid $500 for an initial consultation of two hours for me to sit there in a small room and talk about my dog’s semi-inverted vulva and how that might have something to do with her peeing on the carpet. I wrote about this and parodied it but didn’t publish it because it’s too fucking stupid to even parody, and gets my gall up that I’m now wrapped up in my pets’ psychologies, as if they had one, and now I’m some neanderthal because I’m not in touch with my cats the way I should: I’m having to lie about how often I clean their litter box and cop to the fact that I’m responsible for their disorders, for how many times they paw at their waste after they eliminate, for how much time I spend playing with them, or don’t.
I finish the 850-page love letter to Germany, written by an English journalist. It’s an academic book that doesn’t read academic, which is good by me, it just makes me want to learn more. The guy takes stories and ties them together in a non-sensical pattern which is interesting, because that’s how life works: it’s not a Point A to Point B, it skips.
I’ve injected some liquids into the carpet to rid the bad enzymes from the animal urine, in our dining room. I’m experimenting with drugs for the animals, and hiding them in their food. It’s to test how they’ll react when I drug them for an overseas flight in two weeks, where they’ll sit in the cargo hold for like 12 hours and land in Frankfurt am Main with me, +9 hours, GMT.
I’ve gotten funny the past few days, not in a good way: a pushing-away of other people, an inwardness that feels toxic. You could call it narcissistic attachment if you like, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, overcoming (or coming to terms with) the past.