Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Karma of ill repute

Stuck between a rock and a hard stressful place
As a continuation of my last post, I should say my day started off pretty well, before taking a sharp turn south to O'Crapville.

I called the Metro office first thing in the morning, and to my relief, someone had turned in my license plate and documents. An hour later, I attended a weekly meeting where nearly everyone was wearing a tie in honor of Tie-Tuesday, a totally random fad of which I am the only female advocate for at work. Sweet!

But mid-morning, I received a large helping of stress, with a few near-tears on the side. What could be so bad? Let me give you a numerical list in chronological order:
  1. My friend who's giving me a ride across town for my USDA appointment tomorrow morning  (required to bring the cats to Germany) told me he might not be able to give me a ride back due to a scheduling conflict at work. No biggie I though, I can take the bus or cab worst cast. Getting there on time was, after all, the most important thing. And I really should mention that he has been absolutely awesome in constantly helping me out/putting up with me these past few weeks.
  2. Twenty minutes later, the guy who bought my car last night emailed me complaining about "some noise the car was making." What noise?!? I emailed him back and explained that when I handed him the keys last night, the car was running fine. Plus, it's had two clean inspections in the past month and half. His response, "I'll look into it and let you know what the problem is." Great. I hate to sound callous, but it's really not my problem now. The car was fine; he took it over, and supposedly now it's not. Plus, I've been super nice to this guy. He got the car for a couple thousand below blue book, I put up with his continual tardiness and, because he's new to the U.S., I explained (several times) how the registration process works. Can't wait for his next email...insert eye roll here.
  3. Five minutes later, my vet called. They mixed up the cats' microchip numbers on the paperwork yesterday, and they needed me to come back in to get new forms -- a big problem because I was now car-less, the vet's a 45-minute drive from my work and my I needed the papers for my USDA appointment TOMORROW morning. Fortunately, they called the USDA office and learned they could fax the corrected papers. Whew...I think. Let's see what happens when I show up tomorrow morning for the endorsement appointment.
  4. Two minutes later, as I was telling a co-worker friend of events 1-3 when my phone rang. It was my credit card company. Long story short, my card number was compromised, and I had several fradulent transactions trying to post to my account. Because the credit card company had to now close the account, the representative told me they'd send me a new card "within the next week or so." But, I won't be here for another "week or so." I more or less explained my relocation to the rep, and he promised to overnight the cards to me at work. So here's to hoping they arrive tomorrow as promised. 
A short while later Thomas called me. I'd forgotten to let him know how the car sale had gone. And then he received a message about fraudulent credit card activity so he began to worry that something terrible had happened to me. Oops! After I assured him as I was still alive, I explained events 1-4. Funny thing is that before I spoke to him, I seriously felt like breaking down into a sopping pile of tears at work. But just hearing his voice again made me feel like everything would be improbable as that notion seemed just moments before.

As we neared the end of our conversation, he asked if I would call our moving company to check the status of our shipment. I decided that based on my luck today, I'd be better off calling tomorrow. At the rate I was going, calling now would probably end in the words, "What?? We're moving to Munich, not Monaco!!"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cats, cars and carelessness

Today was an important day in our move. And it started at the unreasonable hour of 5 a.m.

My morning mission was to prepare the cats for their pre-flight vet inspection (which must happen no more than 10 days before the flight). This is just one of the many steps required to relocate a pet to Germany. I trimmed nails, applied kitty claw tips (to avoid carrier destruction) and carted each cat up and down the stairs and across town through terrible rush hour traffic. But at least the appointment was a success. My vet cleared them to fly and filled out the ream of required paper documentation on them. Next up in the feline department: the USDA endorsement appointment this Wednesday. At least that appointment is sans mes chats.

After dropping the cats off at home and assessing the copious amount of cat furring re-coating my normally red coat, I hurried off to work -- a place where time hasn’t yet told my to-do list about its rapidly approaching departure. So I worked until it was time for my next move-related task: forgoing my vehicular mobility...

I met the buyer for my car at the bank. For the most part, everything went smoothly. We exchanged money for keys and signed the necessary papers. I took my photocopies and license plate (unlike many other countries, in the U.S., the plates belong to the person who paid for them. The buyer must purchase new ones when he or she registers the vehicle) and was on my way.

I boarded the bus to my apartment slightly numb from selling my beloved car, but relieved the sale was complete. I got off the bus and walked home in the same oblivious state of mind. It wasn’t until I laid my purse down on the counter that I realized something important was missing – my license plate and copies of the documents. I frantically called the bus’ lost and found office, but it was closed. So here I am still dwelling on my blunder hours later, hoping someone will turn my stuff in. Maybe the universe will take pity on me and my hopeless forgetfulness. But I guess I'll have to wait until to tomorrow to find out...

Monday, November 8, 2010

The A, B, Cs of learning German

One of my goals in Germany is to pass the TestDaF language proficiency exam required for university entrance. I intend to study for my master’s degree in Munich. Exactly what I’ll study is not yet clear. But no matter what I select, I first need to prove that I can read, write and understand the language at an academic level. Sure, no problem. Except that I need to do this by June if I plan to enroll in the winter 2011 semester. Crap…I mean CERF.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a system created by the Council of Europe to help standardize learning. Mastery of German – and most other European languages – is divided into six levels:
  • A1 – beginner
  • A2 – second level beginner
  •  B1 – intermediate
  • B2 – second level intermediate
  • C1 – advanced (or upper intermediate)
  • C2  - mastery
To help me reach the Cs, I’ll be attending a language school in Munich. But the level at which I should start was a slight area of debate between Thomas and me. He thought that since I’ve been more or less studying the language (off and on) for awhile now, I would easily be in the B category. But the As were more to my liking. So we put it, er, me to the test.

First I took this free online test, from Cornelsen. It featured a separate test for each level. Result: B1. Score one for Thomas. But I still wasn’t convinced. So if at first you fail succeed, try, try again, right?

So then I checked out another online test offered by Deutsche Sprachschule Dresden. This one was an 80-question test which, at the end, ranked you as A1, A2 or B1. I scored A2. Success! Sort of…

It’s not that I don’t want to be challenged, and I could probably handle the B1 course. But, I’d like to feel comfortable in my first class, not frustrated and incompetent. Besides, I figure adjusting to live in Munich will be challenging enough in the beginning, and I’m sure there will be plenty of other opportunities to feel inadequate.

So it’s off to A2 class in just a short few weeks!