Langenfeld & Dog

Making the adjustments, to living in a foreign land, until this foreign place felt, more like home to you, translated…

Choosing the hotels, I’m used to living in the cities, or closer to the stations, for the sake of convenience.  As I’d, walked toward the Rhine in Germany, I still, couldn’t decide whether to find my stay in Kohn or Dusseldorf.  My friend suggested, that we should, find a small town close by, we’d already, bought the monthlong fares, we needn’t worry about the charges of the transportation, and, it’d, saved up on the city taxes, and, close to the ordinary citizens’ lives.

I’d, pulled open the map, trekked along the railroad, from Koln to Dusseldorf, there were, two mid-size towns on the east side of the Rhine, one was the famous headquarters of the soccer team of Leverkusen, made famous by Bayer, the other, was one town I’d never even heard of, Langenfeld.  As we got to the middle of our journey, it’s time, that we added in, some sort of a leisure of the vacation, and, without a second thought, we’d, picked Langenfeld.

There were two stations locally, both were on the same linear line, the southern one was closer to the center of the city, and got its name of the city, and it’s, also the transportation center for all the busses in the region.  And, on the northern side of the town, there was another, and, it took the name of the highway that intersected with it, Langenfeld-Berghausen , the app of the railroad app on my cell abbreviated this place as Langenfeld-B, made it look like a spare door, so easily missed out on.

I’d gone out in the morn, walked to the northern side of the town to catch a bus, and on the evenings, I’d, gone to take the bus on the south side, and, although, it’d, doubled my way to the bed and breakfast, I could, have the opportunities to shop locally at the supermarkets.

And I’d selected the south side station at night, other than it being where all the shopping marts are, there’s also a personal reason.  As I’d walked along during the daytime, I’d heard the loud barks of viciously sounding dogs.

The first day, and the second day too, I’d only heard the bark, but didn’t see the dog.  And, although I knew, that there are, NO strays on the roads in Germany, that the barking must be from a house, with a pet, but, I couldn’t, get that image of a vicious dog out of my mind.  Like there’s, a huge breed of dog that is going to, run out at anytime toward me, especially, in the darkness of night, all the impossible, became, a possibility.

The bed and breakfast was a three story building, the top floor, was a special place, a one-person bedroom, with the bath and the kitchens, I’d originally wanted to use it for when my parents came visiting, that the lighting was great, it’s, comfortable too, and we wouldn’t, step on each other’s toes.  And, as my parents didn’t come, I could, rent it out, for some extra cash.

The owner of this B&B is the energetic woman, lived with her four, five-year-old son, she worked two jobs regularly, with a steady boyfriend who’s an architect, the three of them got along very well.  And, as I’d found the place, the family of three were about to head out.  The woman told me, that she’s dropping her son off to spend the weekend with his father, then, she and her boyfriend would go to the Netherlands, to have some alone time together.

On the third day, I’d walked on that same path to the station.  And, I’d, gotten to the station, without much trial, and felt, that something, wasn’t, there, oh, the dog had, stopped barking.  Turns out, as he’d, looked upon me, an outsider, day in and day out, he’d finally, gotten, used to me now.  On the fourth day, he’d, played cute with me, and started, whimpering at me as I passed him by from the other side of the road, like wanted me to go and introduce myself to him or something.

And, I’d finally, gotten a closer look at his features, he was, an intelligent looking shepherd, not as huge as I thought it was, but, we were, separated by the fences, and, I can only, look at it from this side of the fences, we were, separated, by a small garden.

On the last night, I’d contemplated that if I have another serving of cheese and sausage, I shall got NUTS, and that if the dog wasn’t a problem anymore, perhaps, I should, get off on the north side.

The moon was bright, like a silvery plate, very circular, it’s, that season of full moon that came during autumn.  As I’d, walked across the forest, there wasn’t any passing car, the branches and the leaves blocked out the lights, then suddenly, the wind blew down some leaves, made the shadows come alive, and, I’d, felt scared.

Looking at a city, from being unfamiliar with it, to becoming, accustomed with it, which way to turn, which way to stop, it all became, habitual, but, the side effects of that was, I’d become, hyper alert of the shapes, and the changes in air, any small movement, can make me jump.  Especially, on a full moon’s night, everything mystique, seemed to be, coming to life.

Thankfully, that shepherd sounded its bark, very low and settling, like it was saying to me, Hey, what are you afraid of, welcome home!

And so, this, is how this person had, gone from a stranger to a new place, to becoming, totally, familiar with it, and now, this place that was, once foreign to her/him, became, home…

 

 

 

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Traveling to Germany to Perform in a Choir Exhibition

The choir diaries, translated…

Due to chance, at the latter half of July, the choir I sung with had the opportunity to go to a local church in southern Germany to perform.

On the day of the concerts, there was a tourist outing, the lunches were provided by the home competitors, after we’d had our chow down they’d invited us along to shop around and to have some coffees with them, but we’d, turned them down.  Because by the time the luncheon was over, it was already two in the afternoon, and we’re onstage at seven in the evening, and we had yet to check out the auditorium where our performances will take place, that we may need to adjust our formations, the way we’d rehearsed, the gift exchange, supper, and changing into our performance attires………clearly, we’re, already, running out of time, we needed to take every second that we have to get ready.

As we’d gotten off the busses, the church bells from the distance sounded off the welcoming calls, we’d felt moved, like we were being, worshipped.

Just as we’d suspected, the adjustment of the formation, and giving the home teams their presents, it’d, taken a lot of our time, plus we had yet to calm ourselves of the excitement of the morning travels yet, we didn’t perform as well as we hoped during rehearsal, and we’d started, feeling the stresses, thankfully, the leader of the choir and our singing instructor turned down the local teams’ offers to hang out, otherwise, we would’ve, totally messed up big times at our formal performances.

The temperature was comparable to Taiwan’s, between 33 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius, but without the air-conditioning, it’d become, difficult for us to handle, so from the rehearsals that started after a little past two after the luncheon, to the end of our show, everybody was, sweating like crazy, but we’d all, pushed ourselves, to adapt, that made me so proud of us.

查看來源圖片like this???  Photo from online…

At seven, the church bell sounded off loudly again, the performances started for real now, the first half was ours, of the six songs, there were four of which we’d sung as a whole choir, and two that were sung by the males and females in the various voice ranges, with an assortment of song choices, the quick-tempo “Taiwan, an Island of Treasures”, the softer, “The Mountain, in the Nothingness”, the strong and forceful, “Don’t Keep the Goldfish at the Bottom of Your Glass”, the ballad, “Memories”, the majestic “All the Flowers in Bloom”, there were, songs in Taiwanese AND Chinese, and we’d sung Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in German as the ending song.

As our performances were finished, everybody in the audience gave us a standing ovation, the applause sounded continually, even until we got off stage, and returned back to our seats, it’d made us all very excited, and moved.  What’s more encouraging was, the instructor told us, that this, was the best performance that the group’s given in all the years combined.  And, everything we’d weathered through, the hot weather, the sweating it out like crazy, it’d finally, paid off.

Later on, the German choirs performed the bottom half of the show, they’d sung mostly hymns, they were, younger than we were, and, kept their eyes on the sheet music as they performed, which was what we’d not done, this was, something we’re, most proud of.  In the end the two choirs performed “Looking Toward the World” together, with our conductor conducting, in the chorus, we sang the first and third, while the German performers did the second and the fourth, we’d sung in Chinese, they, in German, on our separate choruses, this was our instructor’s idea, it’d, made the song even more majestic, it’d made the German group who were against this awe over it, such a perfect ending for this show.

We’re not a topnotch choir, just ordinary people who loved singing, with the average age of over sixty-five, before we flew out, I’d once said to myself: we’re flying to a foreign country, although it’s a mid-sized town we’ll be performing in, so long as the auditorium is packed up, not an empty seat in the house, we’d, found success, and we had.

Later on, in the restaurants, plazas, train stations, by the lakes, under the ancient castles, came our “flash mob” performances too, and we’d gained the German’s applauses, and they had nothing but good things to say about our performances, we’re, so very happy!

As we returned, the German newspapers printed out our performances in the local church.  We’re from Taiwan, and the world finally saw us!

And your huge success is still due to those endless hours of rehearsals you’d had before you went to Germany to perform, and, because you and the members of your choir were fully prepared, that is why your performances gained all the attention, and it had, put Taiwan on the map, for Germany, at least!

The Biggest Fears of an Elderly: Being Scatterbrained

You were, scatterbrained, and now, you’d, forgotten more and more, slowly, that, would be a sign, of dementia, I suppose, or maybe, you’re just, plain forgetful, who knows???  Translated…

The luncheon after the reading club, everybody pays $230 N.T., I took out a $500, and took the bill to the counter; the change I made, I’d, counted, and recounted them, how come, there’s, extra?  And so, I’d, given the change to my friends, and, as the extra cash was split up among them, Wen-Ching who sat next to me, asked, “Hua, did you not count your own change?”, as I’d opened up my small wallet, yup!  I took out a $500, and now, there’s, nothing in my wallet!  It’s a wonder, that ever since, I’d been voted, as the one, who goes to the counter to pay all the bills………

To the market places, a t-shirt that costs $370, “can you give me two for $800?”, then I saw the store clerk grinning ear to ear, and nodded, like he feared I might change my mind.  Had it not be my neighbor who’d reminded me, “Do you have HOLES in your brains???”, I must have believed that I’d bills, then, took out totally, also make the store clerk happy as well.

I’d gone to the super convenience shop at the entrance of my alley to pay a bill, the handsome clerk stated, “Your total comes up to $4,802”, I took out five $1,000 and rummaged through my coin purse for the $80 in change, and tried to stop the clerk from making change to me, “Wait, here’s eighty dollars!”, the handsome lad was, stumped for a bit, then laughed aloud, “Miss, it’s $4,802, not $4082!”, I’d started staring at him, with that blank expression, as he pointed to the cash register monitor, I was, drawing a blank…………

I’m not just an idiot in math, I’m also, a lost soul on the road, I’d once, hit the walls, so many time, in the C.K.S. Memorial Hall, from one side entrance, to the other side entrance, then, into the main entrance, still couldn’t find that exit for Ai-Guo West Road.  And, I’m way, way, WAY off on the MRTs, from the Taipei Main Station to Danshui, after I’d arrived in Beitou, I’d taken the train back to Yuanshan, and found it was the wrong way, gotten off, rushed into train on the other side, and I got to Beitou, but, somehow, transferred to New Beitou.

圖/蔡侑玲

it’s like that all right, illustraion from the papers…

As I’d gone abroad, I’d lost, a ton of my things; my hat, at the home in the small grass hut village, my handbag, left, on the shuttle towards the northeast of China, lost my passport, at the chair of the airport at northern Thailand; as I’d left the hotel in Northern Thailand with the tour group, walked to the elevator, I’d realized, that I didn’t bring along my luggage; as I’d, hiked, and wanted a drink, it’d dawned on me, hey, how come, I feel, so light, I’d, left my pack at the resting gazebo!

The movie ticket set I bought last year, I’d turned the house upside down, and still couldn’t find it, until a few days ago, I couldn’t, find my MRT card, I can only, take out my spare, and, there they were, the EIGHT movie passes, thankfully, they hadn’t expired yet.

My good friend made fun, “thankfully, your head was connected to your neck at birth, otherwise, you would’ve, lost that too!”, being scatterbrained when you’re younger, that’s called forgetful, but, in the elderly years, it’s called, Alzheimer’s, being forgetful, can be troubling, but, being demented, that should be, too awful.  Could it be, that I’d, drunk too much water from the River of Forgetfulness in the past life, that I can’t remember these smaller matters in this?  Thankfully, I still remembered, to follow the right people out, to buy the blue chip stocks, to marry a man, who’s, more intelligent than I am!

And so, despite her forgetfulness, this woman still, managed all right, it’s just, that these smaller things, can become troubling to others around you, and, forgetfulness, may be, an early sign of dementia, so, that’s, something this person needs to, watch out for…

 

My First Love, in a Freeze Frame

The memories of her first crush, she still recalls it like, it was yesterday!  Translated…

We were reassigned to separate classes in our second year in middle school, I was chosen by the class as the recordkeeper of class activities, I’d gone to the offices to collect the written accords of classroom activities, and, I saw him, standing like a noble, out of the rest of his class.  I’d, taken a mental note of his classroom and name stitched on his uniform, then I’d, casually, walked by his class, and started laughing aloud, to get his attention.

And I had, kept myself unseen on the roof of the school, and used my eyes, to take continual photos of how he’d, played balls on the courts.  And I had, adjusted my route to and from school, and “accidentally” passed by his house, and smiled up at the uniform hung outside with his name stitched on it.

Later he tested into an all-male high school, I’d, entered into an electronics company to work, and as I saw him, rushing to get on the busses with his backpack on his shoulders, I’d felt that my heart skipped a beat still.

My first love, he didn’t even know that I existed, and, I’d, kept the way I felt for him secret for three whole years, until at a reunion, I’d learned, from a former classmate, that he was, then dating my former classmate, and so, as Cinderella, I picked my broom back up, kept sweep, with that prince, riding off on a white horse, time had, blurred out the memories.

I saw him on the streets, with his backpack around his back, rushing for the bus again, I’d, instinctively wanted to chase after him, call his name aloud, asked him how everything was.

As I took that first step out, my daughter grabbed a hold of my shirt, and, it’d, wakened me up: I’m already a mother, a wife, how could he still be just fifteen?

First love, a time that belonged to solely me, sourness, mixed in with the sweetness, forever, in a freeze frame, of that youthful time in my life.

And so, a part of you, stayed in your teenage years, still remembering, how you’d, crushed onto that guy, and, because it was a crush, nothing became of it, and yet, this memory of a crush, it’d, given your life more colors, didn’t it???

My Son, the Delivery Driver

The different kinds of people you meet when working, translated…

As my son entered the house after he got off work, he’d had me guess, who he’d made the delivery to today?  Before I’d said anything, he couldn’t wait to tell me, “The Renowned writer, Hsien-Yong Bai!”, he’d elongated the pronunciation of the writer’s name, then he’d chimed on excitedly, that the security guard claimed that Mr. Bai had told him, to let him go upstairs to make the delivery himself, and, the master was already, in smiles, waiting for him as he arrived, with the pen he prepared, to sign for the package, and thanked him, and he saw him off downstairs, then, he’d gone into his residence.  “Finally, I’d come across a worldly scholar, who’s very courteous toward me, that’s, once-in-a-lifetime chance!”, my son exaggerated his gesturing, and it’d, made me chuckled.

illustration from the papers online…圖/想樂the assortment of clients that he’d, bumped into…

My son told me he’d met a ton of clients from all over the spectrum, which was, one of the most enjoyable things about his work.

There was an owner of a publishing house, who’d carried the printed books from the third-floor office downstairs and waited for him, the owner of the publishing house was already sixty, and my son felt bad, and told him that he didn’t need to haul the items he needed to deliver, that it’s okay that he goes up to get it, but the owner said he didn’t mind, that he’d needed the exercises anyway.  There was, a woman who had that elegant flair about her that lives in a mansion, who’d handed my son a glass of water as he’d rang the doorbell, and told him she’d appreciated him.  My son stated, “seeing her, it’d made me forgotten, the trips I’d driven, and the fatigues I’d felt on the way!”  My son sighed, “Mom, your generation is way kinder.”  “Now you know, huh!”, I’d felt very proud, of people of my generation.

Then, he’d, turned the tone, he’d mentioned, “however, there are those, who are, awful too.”  There was a client who’d demanded that the delivery arrive by seven, he’d swiveled in the traffic, and finally, rushed to the place by 6:55, and the recipient called his office to complain about how he was late.  There was also, another client who lived on the fifth floor, and the building didn’t have an elevator, and my son was delivering two cases of adult diapers, and the staircase was too narrowed, and, if he’d carried the delivery stacked up, it would hit the walls, he’d gone up and down a total of four times, and he’d, still managed, to carry the deliveries up.  And, as the client signed for the delivery, he’d advised that if they needed such huge loads to get delivered, they should find a larger home delivery company, because they have the tools to make the deliveries easier, that it would be safe, and convenient for all, but the client barked back, “Why would I want to spend that much money?  If you want to make a living, then, find a way to delivery my stuff to me!”

And, this belief of “I’m paying, I’m the boss!”, was enough, my son told me, he’d wanted to, blacklist the man, that he would end up losing more, if he got injured making the deliveries.  But he was glad, that he had the extra years of education, that’s helped him to reason with the clients, and, as he’d met those clients who wanted to, slash the delivery charges, he’d used his persuasion, to get them not to, and instilled his clients’ empathy.  And thankfully, the majority in the society are still, very understanding, and empathized that helping the delivery drivers is what’s best, it’d, made him feel, that all his hard work was, more than worth it.

You would have complaints in whatever area you work, but, you can also, be outstanding in your jobs, I hope, that my son can find the joys in his work, and, become more and more motivated to keep working in his job.

And so, this man’s job, required him to get into contact with a ton of different people, and, some of these people are just, too HEARTLESS, without the empathies, and that probably makes this young man want to quit his job, but at the same time, he’d, met some clients who are, very kind to him, which is probably what kept him going in his work as a delivery driver.

The Lessons that Regrets Have to Offer Us…

If you don’t have a single regret in your lives, then, congrats, on being one in a zillion (just like ME!!!  Wow, I feel, so special right now…).

There are, however, lessons that we can learn from our regrets, remember how regret felt (doesn’t feel too good, does it???  Of course not!!!), and, wouldn’t you WANT to NEVER feel like that again?  Exactly!  And that, IS the precise lesson that regrets have to offer us.

Now, how to go about living your lives, without ANY regrets, that, would be a form of art, I suppose.  And, because of everything that’s happened in my life, that’s been beyond MY control (hello, hello, hello, how the FUCK do I know I was going to be the one, getting POPPED out???), and because it’s all fate, and who the hell, am I, to argue with fate, right?  So, I’d, SCRAPPED regret, OUT of my life completely.

And, there’s, no right or wrong way to approach dealing with your separate regrets, but, generally, regrets can be, divided into TWO “sections”, one, the ones you have no control over, the other, the ones you HAVE control over, and, the only one you can work on, to MAKE a difference in would be the “section” that you HAVE control over.

There’s, nothing else you can do, after you’d, worked through the regrets you have control over, besides, fate’s in charge, hello, hello, hello???  Haven’t we gone over ALL of that previously???  Exactly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

How this woman was able to, reach her goal, by taking smaller steps towards her goal at first, until she could, finally do it, in one breath! Translated…

I will never forget June 8th of this year, the very first time in my life, I’d run, continuously, for SIX kilometers!

At first we’d signed on for the 1919 Companion Reader Running Program, because we thought it was something meaningful for us to do, the registration fees goes to help out the companion reader programs of children from less fortunate backgrounds, and we got a good workout, killing two birds with one stone.

Back then, my husband told me that he was running for ten kilometers as a preparation for the real thing, that was when it’d, dawned on me, that this, “event that’s happening far off in the future”, is happening a week from then! And my record for running was only 3.6 kilometers………, and so, the following morning, I’d gone out with my husband, to face up to the challenges.

The first two kilometers were okay, continually, “breathe in, breathe out, in, out, in, out”, about five kilometers in, I became, so overheated underneath the sun, as I was about to slow my paces down, and I’d remembered how the super marathoner, Lin had, run across the desert. How can thirty-degrees’ heat compare to that? And, with that, I’d, gained the strengths, to keep on going.

Not long later, I’d reached that small slope that was no problem as I brisk walked from before, and now, it’d, looked like a tall mountain that’s before me, I’d, pulled down my hat, and decided I should only, focus on what’s right before my eye, otherwise, I will, surely, be psychologically beaten. But, although the uphill run wasn’t easy, for the final 300 meters, I’d kept my breathing tempo, and thought of how many would be there, at the finishing lines, cheering for me, and, I’d, reached my goal. It’s, so amazing, it’d, made me more confident about going to hike in the streams with my junior in college and his friends too.

Recalling how back in physical education in the elementary years, so long as the teacher wasn’t paying attention, all of us, girls, would sneak underneath that tree to chit chat, and, I was the only one who’d needed to retake the physical test for P.E. back in high school. Being like so, at midlife, I’d, run for six kilometers without stopping, it was, incredible for me!

Recalling the speech that Jeremy Lin gave at the Poli-Sci University graduation, he’d reminded the graduates, to “Get beyond your comfort zones, to go through the defeats, because the pains, the trials, are great motivators, like how he’d endured through the muscle tears when he’d trained in the weights, but, after he’d rested up, the muscles grew back stronger.” I hope, that all of you will, get beyond your comfort zones, and live a wonderful life too.

And so, this woman had, wanted to challenge herself physically, she’d, set a goal for herself, and worked toward it every day, she ran a bit farther each and every day, until she could, run the entire six kilometer without breaking down, and this just showed, how when you set your minds to something, and work hard towards that something you want, you will, achieve your goals, and, when you do, you will feel, like you’re, on top of the world!