Eating eating eating me alive!

STUPIDLY I went and downloaded the most up-to-date PDF Broschüre for the course I have set my heart on.
I hate setting my heart on anything
, because I might not get it. But I've set my heart on this. The desire to do it is eating me up inside. In fact I feel like I'm festooned with army ants and being eaten alive. I feel like a hydrogen bomb inside me is about to detonate at any moment.

This is what they say about the languages on offer, re the application process:

3.2 Zulassungsvoraussetzungen
Für das Bachelorstudium besteht in den Sprachen Englisch, Französisch, Spanisch eine Zulassungsbeschränkung (Numerus clausus). Der NC-Wert ergibt sich für jedes Semester neu aufgrund der freien Studienplätze, der Abiturnoten, der Wartezeiten und der Anzahl der BewerberInnen. Eine Vorhersage über die für das jeweilige Zulassungsverfahren geltenden Grenzwerte kann daher nicht getroffen werden.
Als Zugangsvoraussetzungen für das Studium am FTSK sind neben der allgemeinen Hochschulreife oder einem äquivalenten ausländischen Abschluss fundierte Kenntnisse in Deutsch als Fremdsprache, Englisch, Französisch und Spanisch und Grundkenntnisse in Chinesisch erforderlich, falls diese Sprachen als Fächer gewählt werden.
Genaue Informationen zu den Eingangsvoraussetzungen für alle Sprachen entnehmen Sie bitte den Merkblättern der einzelnen Sprachen, die Sie auf der Seite http://www.fb06.uni-mainz.de/261.php finden.


Well I have to read it in German ~ so can you!!

To summarize, English, French and Spanish ~being so highly popular, are subject to entry restrictions in numbers. Being as English is my mother tongue and the only language over which I feel I have some genuine mastery, I don't have much choice in the matter. But I can avoid French by not applying for it, and doing Russian instead, as I've already decided. Some basic knowledge of Chinese is required. So I'm determined to trounce the other students by achieving A Level standard (or higher) before I even start.
As you cannot fail to have noticed, I have a genuine fascination for Chinese characters. I already know about 2-300. If I could multiply this by a factor of ten, I'd have a pretty good basic reading knowledge in Chinese.

I couldn't find any entry restrictions or requirements for Russian, but would feel compelled to reach at least GCSE (lower school certificate) level, simply to underline my interest (and distinguish myself from the vulgar hoardes I'll be up against in the application process). The greatest novelists of all time wrote in Russian ~ Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Turgenyev, Pasternak... imagine how amazing it would be to read those in the original?!

My biggest worry of all doesn't concern waiting lists because I'm English or beating others at Chinese: it's the German language test to which I'll be subjected. I tried on before on the Goethe Institut website (admittedly when my German was clagged up with 18-years of unpractised rust) and got a dreadful score.

As I shall point out, not having a teacher here, I have focused my energies on acquiring a passive reading vocabulary. And it's working amazingly. The novel I'm reading, Seegrund, which means Lake-Bed is a thriller about a dead body found... you guessed it. In a pool of blood in the snow on the banks of a frozen lake. I was astonished to comprehend the words for river-bank (das Ufer) and corpse (die Leiche) ~ both of which I've picked up and remembered in the past couple of months. So you see reading books and keeping my amateurish German blog has got me somewhere after all. There are many expressions for which I know two or three words in German, just as I do in English. I get a real sense of achievement from this. Especially as I DROPPED OUT of a languages degree in the early 90s in disgrace and despair, convinced I would never achieve any degree of mastery over German, let alone any other tongue. Somehow, amazingly, the magic has happened.

I think my turning point came one night as I listened to BBC World Service radio. I realized that across the world there are millions of people who have never set foot on Anglophone soil, who have learned to speak our language fluently by following radio broadcasts and slogging their way through English literature, dictionary in hand, referring and re-referring constantly to every word they're not entirely sure about. So I did this and look! I'm seriously considering applying to uni in Deutschland. How amazing is that. Six months ago I wouldn't even have been able to read the prospectus...
Well enough of my babbles.

It's 5:34. The clocks went back last night, meaning darkness now falls not long after 4pm. It's dead romantic ~ like a Siberian goods train yard full of onion-picking babushkas, with immigrant workers hiding in the cattle trucks smoking Cyrillic cigarettes and babbling away in Chinese. (I must fit the two new languages into this silly fantasy.) German, Russian and Chinese are also, of course languages of the former Communist Block. Life behind the Iron
Curtain has long held an enduring fascination for me. That was a big reason why I so loved German doing at school. When I started the A-level course Germany was separated by 200 yards of watch-towers, searchlights and tripwired minefields. By the time I actually sat the exams the wall had come tumbling down and a new world order was upon us.

What the future world order shall bring, I shudder to think. It's capitalism capitalism capitalism everywhere. I'm a capitalist, but I see excesses everywhere. And greed is not always good, despite what Gordon Gecko would have us believe.
Anyway I must ping. I wonder if anyone actually read this post to the end? If so, I commend you with a 金奖章 jīn jiǎngzhāng ~ a gold medal!



PS Here's an entertainment for you: the oldest recording JRR Tolkien, author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, et al... he appears in this early English Linguaphone course in units 13 "the wireless" and 20 "at the tobacconist's"! What a blast from the past. (He was well into his "pipe-weed" as anyone who's seen the films will know...)

Link: Sprache, Kultur und Translation - Chinesisch

中文明天 Chinese Tomorrow


WHY OH WHY OH WHY is the desire to speak Chinese eating me alive?
I can tell you why
: because I'm obsessive-compulsive anyhow + I'm an addict + I'm desperately fixating on this because I can tell you from experience that immersing myself in foreign language is the only brain-switching off technique I've found so far that in any way compares to heroin. I get a high off writing fiction, too, but that's more like crack. A switching on, rather than switching off. And I don't want heroin. Or crack. I wanna educate myself. I've followed BBC Chinese classes on late night television and had no problem with the language. It is far, far easier than German ~ which might sound counter-intuitive. But you have to bear in mind German is an inflexional language, which means lots of information that can only be presented in tabular form. Asian languages require no such grammar tables, because words never change. (E.g. you never have to conjugate a verb.) Once you know the right words, and know the word-order, you just slam them together and hey-presto, you're communicating.
I've looked all over the internet for free Mandarin lessons, but what's there is very scrappy. I'm after an in-depth immersive course. I am willing to spend £60 or more on books and CDs. That £60 would only get blown on heroin if I didn't buy books, so I'm not being quite as extravagant as I might sound.
Mr "I want some heroin" DID indeed show up today and the stuff was such rubbish I injected half a gram in one go and was still walking. Half a gram of decent heroin would have most people blue in the face and not breathing if you injected it direct in a vein in 10 seconds. I am utterly fed up of this drug. Even when it's "strong" I can't really feel it. I have overdosed several times and even an overdose I would rate as 4/10 on a scale of how strong drugs can feel. On this scale crack would score an 8 or 9, ketamine a 9 and LSD (in brain-frying doses) a 10. Ketamine and acid are literally so strong that on a full-on trip you don't know who you are, where you are, cannot understand what anybody is saying, cannot perform the simplest of tasks (e.g. getting a key in a door). I once visited a 24 hour garage on acid to buy food and beverages for other assorted tripheads. The shop was fully open and for some reason the guy working there had decided to tip all the biscuits off the shelves and on the floor. Literally all I could see was custard creams and chocolate digestives in psychedelic peaks and valleys kaleidescoping on for ever and ever. I returned home with something pink, something yellow and something green. I had no idea what they were (drinks, biscuits, something...), but the colours looked amazing.
I can't believe I'm actually sharing this information with the world. I can't believe I ever got into drugs of any type. I can't believe I've had conversations with my own family about needle exchanges and hepatitis testing.
Sometimes I still can't believe I'm a heroin addict at all. How on earth did I end up in this ridiculous situation? Drugs are ridiculous. I am ridiculous. I am also very fed up. On Monday morning first thing I'm fleeing to the bookshops of central London where I shall indulge this alternative new fixation of mine. I don't care how sad anyone thinks it is. Nothing is as sad as being hooked on heroin.

I can't read aloud any of those characters 中文明天 I put up top, but am already familiar with all four from Japanese. The last one means the sky 天国 says "tengoku", which means "the Kingdom of Heaven" or "paradise" in Japanese. For some reason that was my favourite word ...






PS 中文明天 says "Chinese (language) tomorrow" (zhōngwén míngtiān) in Chinese; the same phrase in Japanese is 中国語明日 (chūgokugo ashita) though you'd actually say something more like 明日の中国語 (ashita-no chūgokugo) "the Chinese language of tomorrow) or 明日に中国語 (ashita-ni chūgokugo) "tomorrow-in Chinese language" (Japanese love putting things the wrong way round) ~ all of which throws to the four winds the notion that the Chinese and Japanese express like ideas in the same characters ~ because they obviously don't!

PPS if you want to read an article that chimes in with most of my own views on the German language, expressing them better than I ever could, click here

I will go on taking heroin till I die...

... SO YESTERDAY I SPENT MY DRUG MONEY ON BOOKS (and food). £10 got me a 972-page German tome called Der Turm (The Tower") by Uwe Tellkamp. £3.50, beautiful hardback with acid-free cream paper. Set in the former DDR... well I can't tell much about it as I'm only on page 7. But it's set behind the Iron Curtain and I have a thing about life in former communist states. The other books were give up smoking for 50p, Byron Childe Harold/etc 30p special offer (minuscule hardback) and Peyton Place (80p) by Grace Metalious, who died of alcoholic cirrhosis at 39 and sold well over 20,000,000 copies of this book about moral degeneracy in a drab New England Town. This reprint comes with intellectual introduction by some academic and I have to say Metalious's literary style isn't bad (nowhere near as bad as Jacqueline Susann's, if you're into trash fiction of the 1950s and 60s).

The rest of my tenner went on food.

I was actually hoping for Teach Yourself Mandarin Chinese book and CD set for £5 (well I can hope, can't I?) but Mandarin will have to wait till next week.

The urge to educate myself is eating me up inside. An all-consuming craving, far worse than any drug-craving I've experienced for a very long time.

Today will be a test day. I KNOW a friend who will come to me in need (he always does) and how on earth I will get out of that situation without scoring heroin I have no idea.

By the way there is a terrible drought on at the moment. The drug purity has fallen ~ even in the best stuff I've found ~ to less than a third of what it normally was. I can tell this by the way methadone holds me so much better than any street heroin I've bought in weeks.

My favourite hobby is complaining about the lousy gear. So people assume I'm being ripped off, introduce me to their dealer and I'm even MORE BITTERLY DISAPPOINTED with minuscule bags of even poxier gear!

In my opinion anything that's not China white is rubbish anyhow. Heroin is properly white, not brown.

The worst stuff that was around can't have been more than 1% pure ~ if that. And it was full of some sort of resin that re-congealed on cooling, making the stuff uninjectable unless you filtered it three times.

The root of the shortage is blight on Afghanistan's poppy crop, reducing this year's opium yield from around 8000 tonnes (enough to make 800 tonnes of heroin) to something like 2500 tonnes opium (250 tonnes heroin). The UK alone uses an estimated 35 tonnes annually (at import strength), so if there's blight next year it's curtains for heroin (hurrah!)

Hurrah, because I can be free. I feel like a pan of boiling water, seething with pent-up energy and furious steam. One day I will go out and smack the world right between the eyes, because the world deserves it.

Meanwhile I have to 1. give up heroin 2. learn fluent German 3. write several bestselling books 4. learn fluent Chinese 5. learn fluent Russian 6. get on course I've been wittering on about 7. graduate with summa cum laude or whatever the phrase is.

Then at long last I will be qualified to do something.

When I was little and heard foreigners going blubble-blubble-blubble, I thought they all spoke one language called Foreign. I was determined to learn this mystery tongue, so nobody could prattle over my head again.

Also I was affronted by the way almost all foreigners appeared to be fluent in English, giving my family, friends and I no linguistic privacy whatsoever almost anywhere in the world.

My goal is to speak at least 10 languages fluently, including Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, Thai ... blah blah. If I'd only not been so incredibly lazy all my life I could be a long way to achieving this goal. As it is, I barely speak fluent English!

My goblin-bitten computer cable replacement is here! Whoopeee! Now I must run in the shower. I'm so minging I'm infectious...

Where there's a will there's a way...

I AM STILL DEAD SET on doing this uni course. The prospectus says you can choose an A-language (your mother tongue, in my case English); the B-language would automatically be German. These two languages you learn to translate into and out of (written translation; interpreting the spoken word is another skill entirely and you can't do it at home in pajamas, so I'm not into that...). Translating INTO a foreign language is a tall order, so I need to get as far beyond my A-level German as possible. They say they have 800 students with mother tongue English on these courses (Bachelor and Masters), so to get in I will need to distinguish myself as much as I possibly can. The C-language can be any one of: Chinese, French, Italian, Modern Greek, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish. This language you translate out of, into your mother tongue ie Chinese to English. I would luuurve to speak Chinese, it's one of my life goals (as well as Japanese, which isn't on the syllabus). The D-language, which is entirely optional you don't learn to translate, you just learn it. The choices are: French, Italian, Modern Greek, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish (note Chinese isn't there). Originally I would have gone for French, which I already have A-level (higher school certificate) in.

Having banged on ~ quite truthfully, of course ~ about WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A WAY in my previous post, I realized I was limiting myself by present circumstance and convenience. If I could have a magic wand waved over my head and speak fluent French, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish or Russian ~ I'd actually choose Russian.

So Chinese and Russian it is. And I don't see why I should compromise.

So I'm on a hunt for Linguaphone courses in Russian and Chinese. I need to get as fluent as I possibly can before applying. If learning those two from scratch simultaneously sounds a tall order, just bear in mind it's what I'd be doing at uni anyhow ~ if I can prove I've done it myself, at home with no teacher, just CDs and books, and if I can get my German as fluent as I possibly can, this will stand hugely in my favour when I apply.

I'm not too worried about having to account for my lost years. Nobody is owed an explanation for my life and I can justifiably claim ill-health.

You see I'm working to convince myself here, not you, but if you have any comments I'd be glad to hear them.

I wouldn't expect even to apply until this time next year at the absolutely earliest. Interviews for college places are generally held the following spring (2011). And I wouldn't be able to start until October 2011. This feels very fast. I cannot really envisage myself commencing until the year 2012. And as I say, for a course like this, which is obviously going to attract the crème de la crème (nobody leaving the British educational system at 18 would have German good enough to go straight to a course like this, unless they had German family or some other advantage ~ the standard of language tuition in this country is abysmally low...

... so these are my thoughts for today. Hope I haven't bored y'all too much ...!


PS My apologies for having visited NONE of you for AGES. Until my goblin-nibbled cable replacement comes I'm limited to half-hour dashes at the local internet café...

I want to get qualified

DO ANY OF YOU REMEMBER the language course I found in Germany that I was banging on about some months ago? It's the only course on the face of the earth that I actually want to do, because unlike a straight language degree it's actually a course in TRANSLATION, so it would qualify me to do something I know I'd be good at.

Plus I could study German and two other languages.

If you're reading this on American soil, you need to bear in mind that European university courses are always specialist honours degrees. There's no "major" as such. You do a degree in English or law or physiology or whatever with little scope to "read" much else. Which was part of my problem before. I had too many interests...

Last year's prospectus annoyed me because there's an undergraduate version (for me: I don't have a bachelor degree) plus a postgraduate version for those already in posession of a BA. The only difference so far as I could discern was that the postgraduate offered Chinese in the list of available "C" languages, whereas the undergraduate version didn't. Which really annoyed me, as I'd love to do Chinese. It's not that difficult, I never had trouble with tones when I learned holiday Thai some years ago, plus I have a good memory for characters. You might have noticed over time that I have a thing about foreign scripts. I think most of them look really funky.

Anyway I just checked and they've CHANGED THE PROSPECTUS so I could now do exactly what I wanted to: English-German/German-English Chinese-English (translation) + French (not to translate, just to speak it). I already have A levels in German and French.

Also I just found out that those German ICE trains, due to depart London-Frankfurt within a couple of years would take me to within an hour of Mainz, which is where that course is... is this a sign?

I have already started and dropped out of TWO uni courses... perhaps as the saying goes "third time lucky". I don't know how on earth I would fund this, though we ARE in the EU for the time being, so I ought to be eligable for local as well as European funding, especially as I would be studying two European languages. German tuition fees are a fraction of those in Britain (which are about to skyrocket). The only way I can think of paying my way through without ending up in huge debt would be to write a bestseller.

If this course is so unsuitable, I don't understand why I keep coming back to it in my mind. I've not found one like it anywhere else.

As the saying goes WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A WAY. And you're supposed to keep your eyes on the goal, not the obstacles.

My legs are almost healed now. Valium Marilyn whose eyes are up the wall has STILL not seen a doctor. I told her to go to her own, who knows her, knows she hasn't got a "lazy eye" and will see straight away what's wrong, and probably know what it's likely to be.

Sprache, Kultur und Translation Brochure (sorry only in German) http://www.fb06.uni-mainz.de/fbpubl/brosch/FTSK-Broschuere.pdf

Healing leg

I KNOW THESE aren't exactly my legs pictured, but mine are as clean as this woman's jeans are white and tight fitting.

The abscess on the right leg is going down nicely.
No longer does the calf look like a red bowling pin with an erupting volcano upon it. It looks mildly pink with a post-eruption Mount Saint Helens (minus flattened pine trees for miles around...)

I'm feeling much better in some ways. But of course I'm still depressed, so I'm really enjoying that. Drinking lots of hot cups of tea in front of morning television, dreading going outside and pigging out on Mr Kiplings mixed fruit selection cakes and vanilla ice cream...

I really miss not having internet at home (thank you, cable-nibbling goblin) and I miss y'all. Sorry to make everyone worry. (What's new.) I really am better...

... BUT I have a medical question. This is serious and real:

Does anybody know what it means if you have splitting migraine-style headaches for weeks on end, accompanied by severe double vision and one of your eyes becomes mis-aligned, so instead of looking directly at me, it's looking down and to the right. While the other eye functions as normal.

This isn't my problem, but a 65 year old friend of mine has it and I keep telling her to go to the doctor, not to waste her time at Opticians (the optician she did see deserves to be shot). As far as I know she STILL hasn't been to her doctor or to Moorfields Eye Hospital, which is quite easy to get too from here (remember I had to go a few months ago when I had a smut in my eye all night and all the next morning and it just would not wash out...)

I have tried not to mention things like "brain tumour", but I'm dead worried about her. And she's one of these people who the more she worries the LESS she's likely actually to go in and get it looked at (who does that remind you of?)

Answers please! I'm dead worried...

Off to the Doctor's...

I'M OFF to the doctor's in a moment (and dreading it). But I have to go...

The abscess on my other leg (did I mention that one?) exploded
with the help of a pair of sterilized nail scissors. Strawberry milkshake pus blobbering out. In the middle was a snotty green "eye". Now it's just running with a bit of fluid and closed over. It doesn't hurt nearly as bad as it did when it was full to bursting...

... ukh. I know I might sometimes give the impression that I love pus and abscesses, but I don't. What I love about them is squeezing them dry and cleaning them out. I don't like pus at all. Especially blocked-drain-stenching dribbles ~ as were running out of my left leg.

My left leg has healed very well after I "accidentally" picked the old scab #2 off, which had repeatedly been stuck back down (by me). Then I'd have a good peer into the pustulating catacombs of near-death that lay beneath... I noticed it always had a drop of something that looked like snot on the reverse side, which I was assuming was necessary in order to get the thing to re-stick to my leg. The scab really reeked of rotten chicken fillets that have been a week too long in the fridge...

Then I realized the focus of the infection might actually BE on this scab, so I got rid of it and ... TADAAA! Thank you God. It has eventually sealed and dried over and no longer stinks bad and is getting smaller. So I'm on the road to recovery.

My back is also better. I can walk more than 10 paces without having to rest on a garden wall or street railings. When I found myself in places with nothing to lean upon I was utterly helpless and stuck. I wasn't so much in terrible pain as the utter exhaustion of my muscles pulled all out of shape...

I'm gonna have to run, else I get terminated again, but thanks for all your good wishes. I would have gone hospital if it had got really bad, but I started feeling better and am clearly over the worst.

(Found the picture online, my wounds are a bit like those ...)

I'm "back"

BUT I STILL HAVEN'T GOT THE POWER CABLE. I've not been well enough to go anywhere. I can barely walk the length of my own road. It hurts to do anything. I feel 105. I take rests on neighbours' garden walls with their moggie circling my legs and purring. I don't know what I've done but I've done my back in and I feel like an old pensioner. One of these days I'm going to drop and not be able to get up... that day is closer and closer. On a brighter note that wound on my leg is healing, having pussed up every pair of jeans I own. I cannot cover it as it's impossible to remove any kind of dressing without ripping it open. Blood and pus and the reek of dead flesh are everywhere. I am exhausted. The only good thing is I lost my appetite, which is saving money on food. I have a dr's appointment on Monday. Hopefully I will make it out alive again..(!) Akh! I've got to do, else I will get terminated yet again...

The Goblin is back!


THAT NAUGHTY GOBLIN has bitten my computer cable. So I've no power.

Actually no accident happened. The cable just wore itself out. Rather prematurely, in my opinion, but I know old age was the problem, as just before it went completely, you had to twiddle it so it was in one precise position to make power come through ~ like a mobile phone charger on its last legs...

So I'm waiting on a new goblin cure...

... meanwhile I've decided to pen a kiddybook. And I'm hacking through something in German by someone called H G Adler.

Must dash, as I'm on a public computer and I shall be terminated!

Laughing Babies

Cow & Gate laughing babies ~ famous TV ad



Is 9-month old Ethan drunk?! He keeps falling over!



Giggling quadruplets (hilarious!)

Canary Song


FEATHERY SATURDAY...

Five minutes from my house is a flowershop with a canary, who sits outside in a cage singing his feathery little head off. Today he was singing so loud I could hear him right across the main road!




PETER GABRIEL; KATE BUSH: DON'T GIVE UP

Don't give up
'cause you have friends
Don't give up
You're not the only one
Don't give up
No reason to be ashamed
Don't give up
You still have us
Don't give up now
We're proud of who you are
Don't give up
You know it's never been easy
Don't give up
'cause I believe there's a place
There's a place where we belong




WISHING Y'ALL AN AMAZING WEEKEND ...