Sunday, December 23, 2012

Then and Now 54 - Mall Concert

Then and Now 54 - Mall Concert
Time: Mid-2007, at my bud's aunt's place.

My bud and I went out to the roller coaster mall one day, and we spent a good deal of time walking to a bus stop to take us there. I had already been there before in Then and Now 2, so I was absolutely ready to walk there in about thirty minutes or so, but my bud wanted to take the bus because it was blastingly hot that day.

Just before we got to the waiting area, we stopped at a local convenience store to get some drinks. There was a separate display for each cash register, and looking at the wrong one, I was confused as to why my drink cost so much. When the lady pointed me to the correct one, I sheepishly apologized and said I had just arrived in the country recently. This was the point where the happy drunk appeared, the one I mentioned in my Problems post, and it was kind of unnerving, so I'd rather not repeat myself in a Then and Now.

My bud and I left the bus stop, and the whackjob, and went to a coffee shop just a few blocks away. It was another jazz themed place, with some comfortable lounge jazz coming in through the speakers. There were even little statues of the greats around the place: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, even a near-life size statue of Louis Armstrong, his feet glued to the wall and pointing his trademark trumpet downwards. I picked up a local newspaper and tried my best to pick out the words I knew, and happily drank my black coffee when it arrived.

When we were done with our drinks, my bud and I realized that we had waited for that bus to arrive for almost an hour while the idiot drunk guy accosted me. So, we decided to just walk over to the mall to see what was going on. By the time we had made that decision, is was starting to get a little late on in the day, and when we finally arrived at the mall, the sun was barely over the horizon and casting glistening light over the fountains outside of the mall.

My bud and I went in and I showed him the crystalline figure store, with sculptures of animals, people, and even the country itself on shelves around the place. After that, we headed to the roof to see the amusement park, but neither he nor I had any money to ride anything, so we just watched some screaming kids on the little roller coaster, then went back downstairs to head home.

On the way out, we saw a gathering of people in front of a newly erected stage which wasn't there when we walked in. There was someone with a mic up there, introducing crowds of high schoolers and college kids doing dance routines together to blasting music. We watched one group bust a move, from that awkward part in the beginning where they're all standing still and waiting for the music to start, to the satisfying finish where they've put their best out there for everyone to see. As we were walking away, my bud smirked.

"What?" I asked.

"She just said, 'I see some foreigners in the audience. How are you guys doing?'" he replied.

"Really?" I answered. "Let's go back and say hello!"

"If you want to," he said.

By that time, though, the lady had moved on to some other topic and was introducing another dance team, so knowing I had missed my chance, I refrained. We continued on home to my bud's aunt's house to play Guitar Hero and watch the B-movie channel.

I felt embarrassed about not understanding the woman for that entire night. I had studied the local language for a few months before I entered the country, but I knew it was absolutely not enough, and "immersion" was not working. The very next day, I re-doubled my efforts at learning the local language and even gave myself homework every night. I spent the next two months memorizing the local language, but I'll get to that in another Then and Now.

As for today...

I woke up at 6:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the game.
I watched TV.
I watched DVDs with my wife and son.
I played cars with my son.
I roughhoused with him.
I played video games.
I watched DVDs with my wife and son.
I played blocks with my son.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I did the dishes.
I played video games.
I slept.


  1. What advice can you give about learning a foreign language? What works, what doesn't? Do you recommend Pimsleur? I recently bought their program for German, but haven't started it yet. They do seem to get good reviews. I've also been told that reading comic books and childrens' books, and watching foreign TV, in the foreign language can help speed up the learning.

    Berlitz also has a "Total Immersion" program, but it is a bit pricey, a few thousand dollars.

    1. I used mnemonics, which is free, and it only took me three months to go from "can't talk to a baby" to "conversational with high schoolers." It uses the brain's natural memorization method of drawing connections to put vocabulary directly into the permanent memory.