Hedgehog Goes to the Gym: the Kickboxing Adventure

The last few posts I’ve made have been kinda serious, so now it’s time for something more lighthearted. I went digging through all my unpublished drafts and stumbled upon this one. I started writing it over two years ago, and then for some reason forgot about it. Here are some Hedgehog thoughts from late spring in 2016.

***

When I was 10 my parents put me in Tae Kwon Do. I loved it, but I stopped when I started doing sports at my middle school and haven’t picked it up since.

As a woman of roughly average height, most people in the world are bigger and stronger than me. Even though I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, I was twelve when I got it (I think they were being nice). I don’t think that will help me if I get attacked in a parking lot tomorrow.

After doing some googling, I found a gym in my area that lets you take a class for free without a membership.

hedgehog lifting weights

Here is a doodle to illustrate how motivated I felt.

I called and found out that, while most of their classes took place when I was at work, there was a kickboxing class that fit into my schedule. I signed up, thinking that, at the very least, I’d come out of there slightly better at punching people.

When I got to the gym, it turned out that it wasn’t a kickboxing class. It was a kickboxing conditioning class. I’m not sure how a regular kickboxing class is different from this, but in this class it felt like there was more running and push-ups than there was punching and kicking.

For the warm-up, we had to run around the building for 15 minutes while carrying two weights. At first I was ok with this. I like running. I get itchy if I go too long without a good run. I normally run at sunset, listening to music and going at a comfortable pace while I enjoy the solitude. It’s very peaceful.

I do not like to run while dragging weights through the desert in the middle of the day and a beefy guy is yelling at me to run faster. This was a different beast.

By the time the run (at least, that’s what the instructor called it. I called it cruel and unusual punishment) was over, I was sunburned and convinced that my arms were going to fall off.

“Great job!” He said, with all the infuriating enthusiasm of a person who spends 90 percent of his time at the gym. “Now we can start warming up.”

Inside the gym there was a weight-lifting section and a boxing ring off to the side, but most of the space was dominated by a forest of punching bags. After some warm-up squats and warm-up lunges that nearly killed me, the instructor put us into pairs and had us take turns bear-crawling between the bags. We were supposed to drop and do five push-ups at every bag, and when the first person reached the other end of the gym, the next person was supposed to go.

The instructor put me with another girl who was new to the class, which meant that both of us were totally out of shape, and all the other teams had people (men) who were basically professionals at doing push-ups in a gym. After I reached the second bag, my arms were shaking. In the time it took me to cross the gym, the other teams had already gone through twice.

When I finally got to the other side, my partner took about the same amount of time as I did. If I had been able to use my arms, it would have been nice to read a book while I waited for my turn. As it were, all I could think was, “I am going to die here.”

The rest of the class consisted of running between the bags, punching and kicking as we went. That part was ok, but we didn’t seem to do it for very long.

At the very end of the punching and kicking session, the instructor got really enthusiastic.”Now, knock ’em out!” He yelled, demonstrating with a heavy punch that sent the bag swinging on its chain.

You gotta be kidding me, I thought. I might as well be flinging a pair of wet noodles at this punching bag. I have no business trying to knock anyone out.

After about seven years of me helplessly flailing at the bag, the instructor made us stop. Now we were supposed to do a nice relaxing, very intense series of crunches to cool down for the end of class. Both me and the other girl were dying at this point, but she had a strategy. Every time the instructor came close, she would make a big show of doing crunches as fast as she could, and as soon as he turned away she would stop and sprawl out on the floor, gasping for air.

This seemed distasteful and dishonest to me. I thought, “I’m not here to impress anyone. I’ll stop whenever the fuck I wanna stop, no matter who sees me.”

She was smarter than I was.

The instructor inevitably noticed that I was slowing down, and he thought the best way to encourage me was to stand over me and yell, “You have 15 seconds left! Don’t stop! DO NOT STOP!” I glared right back at him and stopped about three seconds later. Yell at me again, asshole.

He kept yelling at me not to stop (while I stubbornly kept stopping) until the time ran out. Then he wandered away to yell at someone else for the next round. I think I frustrated him.

When the class ended, I went to get my water bottle and pretty much melted into a puddle on the floor. I sat there and leaned against the wall, thinking this is probably what it feels like to be roadkill. I dimly remembered that I still had to go to work today.

What I learned from taking one free kickboxing class:

If I get attacked in a parking lot, I should do five push-ups and then bear-crawl away. If my attacker is not impressed, then I should roll over and do crunches until he wanders off.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Shenanigans | Leave a comment

Why Is This Normal: When Guys in Bars Try to Touch You

The following is something that happened to me on Saturday at a bar. It’s a huge step away from my normal silliness, but I’m sharing it because I think it’s important for us to talk about these things, especially because stuff like this happens ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Here goes:

I was at a bar with my friend and her boyfriend and some others. We were standing around talking, and someone my friend knew came over to say hi. He hugged her, and then immediately put his arm around me to pull me into a hug. He didn’t introduce himself, didn’t ask my name, barely even looked me in the eye at all. This made me really uncomfortable, so I gave him an awkward sideways hug and pulled away from him. Then he looked at me and said, “What was that?” I told him I’m not really a hug person. He started telling me and the rest of the group that it’s important to be open to other people, that when people approach you it’s an opportunity to make a connection and people shouldn’t be so closed off.  Then he made this grandiose scene about opening up to other people by taking my friend’s hand and asking her to meditate with him or something like that. He was speaking generally, mostly addressing my friend, but he was basically using this public display to imply that my hug wasn’t good enough.

I rolled my eyes and went to the bathroom in the middle of his speech. When I came back he was gone. Throughout the night I saw him taking the hands of other girls in the bar and doing the same mediation stuff with them.

Much later, people in our group were talking about going somewhere else to keep hanging out. I was talking to my friend’s boyfriend when this guy came back. He started to ask the boyfriend what we were going to do next. He gave the boyfriend a high-five, and then turned to me with his hand raised. I gave him a very quick high-five and said, “BYE!” hoping he would get the message. He kept his hand raised and I was scared that he was going to put his arm around me again.

Inwardly I sighed. He either didn’t get it, or didn’t care.

Time to go to work.

I looked him directly in the eye and said, “I’m not going to hug you.”

This pissed him off.

He gave me this horrible look of disgust and said, “You weren’t listening to me. I didn’t say good-bye and I didn’t ask you for a hug. I came here to ask what you guys are gonna do now and you’re assuming that I want something from you that I actually don’t.” He went on this long rant about how I need to listen, that I’m accusing him of something that isn’t true, that I didn’t even give him a chance, that I’m a cold, closed-minded person and he wants to help me connect to people. At some point I cut him off and said, “If you can’t understand why a woman in a bar doesn’t want a strange man to touch her, then you’re obviously not as open as you claim to be.”

He sputtered, as if I had thrown cold water in his face, and then he went on another rant about how he “just wants me to speak the truth” (those were his exact words, the pompous prick) and that I was completely wrong and he was trying to help me understand what was really happening. I cut him off again and said, “I don’t care what you think of me and you’re obviously not gonna change your mind either, so we should just stop.”

At first it didn’t seem to register what I had said. He stuttered, repeated himself a little, and then kinda trailed off under my blank stare. Finally he looked between me and my friend’s boyfriend (who was uncomfortably watching the whole scene), then gave me another disgusted look and walked away.

He stayed away after that.

I’m really glad for a couple things: that I stood up for myself instead of letting a creepy guy touch me, that I hadn’t drunk any alcohol so I was able to react quickly (not that drinking alcohol itself is bad), and that my friends walked me to the train station and waited with me on the platform when I decided to go home. As soon as the creep walked away, my friend’s boyfriend apologized and tried to comfort me. I was really rattled, but being there with friends helped.

I wasn’t upset because the guy tried to hug me. I hug lots of people after I meet them with no problem (which is a huge achievement, considering how I used to be). It was the fact that he did it in a really obnoxious way, and then reacted with anger and tried to publicly shame me when I pulled away. Of the two of us, shouldn’t I have been the angry one? Him being angry at all was psychotic.

I keep wondering if there was anything I could have done differently, but I think this was a no-win situation. If I hadn’t stood up for myself, I would have spent the whole night with a creepy guy coming onto me and who knows how far he would have gone. But does that mean that an open confrontation was the best possible outcome? That’s really shitty.

If I had been there alone, I would have called a taxi. Or asked the bartender to call one for me, and told them that some guy was bothering me. I think asking the bartender could be good, because it means letting someone else know that there’s a problem, but it could also be bad if the creep is actually friends with the bartender.

I wish the boyfriend had stepped in during the last part. I was perfectly capable of defending myself, but the creep will probably just write me off as a Difficult Bitch and go on his merry way. If my friend’s boyfriend had said something, even as simple as “Dude, leave her alone,” or “What are you talking about?” it would have carried so much more weight. The creep might have felt ashamed because it wouldn’t have been just some crazy bitch at a bar, it would have been another man telling him that this isn’t ok.

This is the unfortunate reality of what it’s like to present as female. Lots of men assume you owe them your time and attention and body just because they want it, and nothing you say really matters unless you have another man to back you up.

If you made it to the end of this really long post, thank you so much for reading it. I’d like to know if you have ideas for how else to react in situations like this or about safety for women in general. And if you’re a man and you see something like this happening, please say something. You don’t have to punch anyone in the face. Just let these creeps know that their is behavior is wrong and support the women you care about. We need your help.

In light of this super serious topic, here’s a doodle I made earlier today:

Vikings doodle

Stay safe out there, everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Post on Berlin & Her Places: Living out of a Suitcase

After two years of not having a permanent place to live, I discovered something: moving a lot is bad for you! Constantly searching for apartments and moving from place to place drains you financially, mentally, and physically.

Even though it was (and still is) a terrible experience and I never want to do it again, bad experiences make good stories. This week I was invited to write an article about it for Berlin & her places, a new blog for women writers in Berlin.

In it I talk about the exhausting experience of trying to find an apartment in a big city during a housing crisis.

You can check it out here: How living out of a suitcase wreaked havoc on my mental health

And then you can light a candle for me, or sacrifice a goat to appease the gods. Every little bit helps. =)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Life finds a way

Hey there, internet! Life has been crazy in the last year, so blogging fell to the bottom of my list of priorities. It’s a shame.  I love writing, and I’ve missed it terribly. Fortunately, I woke up an hour before my alarm today. Yay, sleep deprivation!

To catch you up, here’s a list of big things that have happened in the last year:

  • I ended a very important relationship
  • I got sexually harassed by my flatmate and moved out while he was away at work
  • I began a new relationship
  • I bashed heads with my boss at one language school and ended up quitting
  • I renewed my visa to stay in Germany
  • I asked my boss at my other school for a raise (and got it!)
  • I decided to go back to school
  • I started drawing again, which I haven’t done since I was a teenager
  • My family came to visit me for the first time

This past year has had a lot of extremes. There are days where I feel like “fuck this place and everyone in it, I wanna go home.” There are days where I think about where I came from and just feel lucky to be here at all. I constantly have to remind myself that this is actually my life now.

Fortunately, there have been more good days than bad days. When I think about how overwhelmed I felt in the last year, I’m shocked at all the normal, everyday things that were mixed into that same span of time. I’m shocked at all the good experiences I was able to have even when I felt like the world was ending.

To quote one of my all-time favorite authors, “Life finds a way.”

Here’s a doodle I made:

20180114_094830

I’ve also rediscovered my love for dry-erase boards

Anyway, that’s all for now. Toodles!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

BLAMELESS: A Cautionary Tale of Freelancing, Head Injuries, and Shoddy Police-Work

Hey there! I decided to take a break from writing about being a wacky foreigner because I wanted to continue throwing random nonsense at y’all instead.

My great friend at A Gamer’s Story suggested that I try writing about video games (also, if you like video games, you should definitely go check out his blog!). We’ve been supporting each other as writers for the last five years, but we’ve never tried to cross over into the other person’s territory.

Until now.

After a ton of suggestions and constructive feedback, it’s ready.

Behold: Blameless, a free-to-play horror game I found on Steam.

BLAMELESS intro

WARNING: SPOILERS AND PROFANITY AHEAD

The game starts out with you, the main character, telling your story. You are a freelance architect and were offered a last minute job to look at some property. You think it’s odd, but accept it anyway. You go to the property, which is in the middle of nowhere. The man who called you shows you around. There are tools and construction material piled up everywhere and blocking off the exits. You find a bloodstain, and then he hits you over the head.

You wake up in a dim room filled with tools and pieces of wood. There’s fresh blood on the floor. You have to figure out how to get out of there.

It had a very realistic feel to it and I loved the music. Being rusty at puzzle games, I tried to get into the mindset of “What’s the logical thing to do here? What would happen in real life?”

Well, in real life, if someone hit me over the head and I passed out long enough for them to drag me upstairs and lock me in a secret room, I would probably have a concussion. I would need medical attention. I would probably not be in the condition to jump up and down on the work table to see what the funny lines on the ceiling were.

Actually, confusion and changes in behavior are symptoms of a concussion, so that might be exactly what I would do. YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE.

I’m ashamed of how long I spent doing this.

Even though there are tons of tools lying around, you can’t use any of them. Maybe it’s just me, but the main character came across as a little naïve. When you find that the door is locked and the handle removed, the main character says, sounding mildly puzzled, “Why would he hit me and then lock me in here?” And then you continue to walk around the room, still not being able to use the tools or put them in your inventory (although you just got hit in the head real hard, so this could be plausible).

In real life, my reaction would have been, “Oh fuck,” and then I would have scrambled to find something to defend myself with. If someone hits me over the head and locks me in their tool shed, that someone is getting a sledge hammer to the knee.

Seriously, I can’t even hide these in my bra?

For the next twenty minutes I wandered around with different tools in my hand, looking for something in the room they might be able to interact with. You can interact with stuff by clicking the mouse, but if the game doesn’t explicitly allow you to use an item, clicking just makes you drop it. And in order to interact with anything else, you have to drop whatever’s in your hand. I dropped those tools so, so many times while I was trying to get out.

Eventually I found the door to the attic, but I couldn’t figure out how to reach it. I felt like I had examined every inch of that room, and still had no idea what to do.

I thought to myself, “Maybe I’m taking this too literally.”

A few minutes later I thought, “Maybe it’s because I’m rusty at puzzle games.”

Some time later I thought, “Maybe it’s because I suck and I’ll never get out of this room and the game icon will just sit there on my desktop and mock me forever!”

And so, with great big pile of self-loathing, I turned to the internet for help (fuck you, desktop icon!). Oh, the shame.

But then I found that one of the German YouTubers I’ve been following did a Let’s Play of Blameless. For the past few years I’ve been trying to only watch gaming videos in either German or Spanish, because then it still counts as learning. My shame melted into slightly less shame when I found that Corrupted was the one who would be helping me on my possibly brain-damaged journey out of the tool shed.

I wasn’t cheating. I was practicing my German. Yay, learning!

I was relieved to find that, although he spent significantly less time jumping up and down looking at the ceiling, he had pretty much the same issues I did. I watched just long enough to get the first clue, and then I went back to my game.

I figured out how to open the door to the attic, but the attic was dark and scary looking. I really, really didn’t want to go in there. This is a horror game. Therefore, there’s probably something horrible in the attic. I wandered around the room some more, hoping I could somehow fool the game into letting me put the hammer in my inventory in case I needed a weapon.

NOPE

Eventually I gave up and went into the attic, armed with my broken cell phone and a shaky sense of adventure.

The attic was dark and creepy, as expected. I had to crouch down to get past a bunch of wooden beams, and at one point there was a sudden noise that made my character jump and go, “What was that?” I was extremely tense, but nothing attacked me. So far, the game was relying on psychological horror, and it was working.

Eventually I found my way out of the attic into another room. There was no ladder, so I had to jump down, thinking about all the potentially life-saving tools that I wasn’t allowed to use in the previous room.

wallet cropped

And she left her birth control pills in here. I’d better put this in my pocket so I can return them to her. There will be no unplanned pregnancies on my watch!

My confidence restored, I explored the adjoining rooms. There was a door held shut by some wires. I found metal clippers in another room, but they were broken and couldn’t be used. Then I found a box of screws. I was able to put a screw in my inventory, too! YES! I knew what to do next.

clippers 1 cropped

Them clippers gon’ get it.

I really enjoyed the mechanics of fixing the broken clippers. It made me feel like I’d EARNED the right to cut those wires. I fully expected to be able to open and close the clippers as I held them.

clippers 2 cropped

Muahaha! Feel the clipping force of my newly-repaired clippers! Clippy clippy cli—

clippers 3 cropped

Fuck.

Eventually I clipped my way to what looked like an alley. There was a chain-link fence blocking off one side leading up to a wall, which left the door at the other end of the alley as my only option.

The door was ajar and there was a light on inside, but it switched off as I approached it.

Shit. I didn’t even have my clippers anymore.

I walked through the door, expecting to be attacked at any second. As I went further into the building, the light switched back on and the door slammed shut behind me.

Again, the main character’s naiveté showed. I tried to run back to the door, but then he stopped and said, “There’s no going back through here. I don’t even want to go back.”

You fool! You’ve been locked in an abandoned building against your will, and now someone is guiding you through it. He obviously wants you to go in this direction. Have we agreed with his decisions so far? NO. Which means we should NOT do what he wants. If he wants us to keep going forward, then OBVIOUSLY we should go back the way we came.

Seriously. He didn’t even check if the door was locked.

Despite my infallible logic, I pressed forward. After wandering around another part of the creepy abandoned house, I found this:

box wearing shoes cropped

Is that box wearing shoes? Silly box. You’re not people.

I pulled the box aside and found:

corpse 1 cropped

Oh. Well, I guess birth control is no longer a problem.

She has a piece of paper and a set of keys in her hand. There’s a very realistic creaking sound as you pry her hand open to get them out. The music intensifies and you can hear the main character’s ragged breathing. He was clearly terrified, and so was I.

After I’d gotten the keys, I found a door to the yard outside. There was equipment and rubble everywhere, and two sheds on the other side. One had the lights on, and one was dark. I’m not sure which was worse. All in all, the atmosphere of the yard was very well-done. Even though I had a big, open sky over my head, I still felt trapped and afraid. Yay!

None had happened so far, but I was still braced for jump-scares. There was a lot of running back and forth between the buildings across the yard; keys in one building, locks that they open in other buildings, a fuse-box opener. Even though nothing bad happened while I was running back and forth, the tension in the atmosphere was amazing.

One of the doors you have to get through is held shut by a pile of heavy stone tiles, which means…

You guessed it. Fun with blocks!

You get to pick them up and drop them somewhere else, all within the comforting glow of your buggy flashlight. Or you can pick them up and drop them in the dark. The choice is yours! The stone tiles feel very heavy, like you would get a good crunch out of them if you swung them at a kidnapper’s head.

These were blocking the door to the shed with the light on. As I moved the tiles so I could open the door, I started thinking about the logic behind it. The killer must have been in that shed at some point. For some reason he decided to leave without switching off the lights, and then piled a bunch of stone tiles in front of the door. Did he think no one else would be able to lift these tiles? Did someone else put them there while he was in the shed, and he had to go out the window? Did he have a concussion, too?

What if this was all a distraction, so he could sneak up behind me while I was having fun with blocks? Quick, Hedgehog, LOOK BEHIND YOU!

I spun around.

There had been nothing supernatural so far. No ghosts. No monsters.

But holy shit, man. This was spooky.

Eventually I made my way into the garage. As soon as I opened the door, the lights flicked on and the wind whistled under the garage door. My character said, “Well, this is the way out.” Naturally, instead of trying the door to get out, I began exploring the garage.

In the back of the garage I found a ladder that I could pick up. “Cool,” I thought. “Maybe I can use this to escape.” But the main character had just said that THIS was the way out. I figured I should at least try it his way. I dropped the ladder and pressed the button for the garage door.

The garage door opened with agonizing slowness. It was loud and clunky and I was positive my kidnapper would hear it and come running. After a few seconds, the lights blew out and the door slammed shut.

I thought, “There’s NO WAY he didn’t hear that.” I waited for him to burst into the room and murder me.

The seconds ticked by and I was still un-murdered. I remembered that I had a fuse-box opener in my inventory, so I cautiously peeked out of the garage and then scurried across the yard to the building with the fuse-box. There’s a note on the inside of the fuse-box that tells you how to fix it. I have never had to deal with a fuse-box in real life, so this was a completely new experience for me. I felt a sense of pride as I flipped the switches. “I’m so good at this,” I thought. “After playing this game, I bet I could fix a real fuse-box without even electrocuting myself.”

Then there was a loud FZZT! and I was on the floor. The screen went blurry and my character’s heart was pounding. After a few seconds, my vision cleared and I got back up. The lights were back on. I did the logical thing and clicked on the fuse-box again to see what would happen.

I’m glad one of us is taking this seriously.

I went back to the garage and tried the door again. It took forever. I had to stand there and hold down the button while the door screeched open. The whole time I was thinking, “Oh shit oh shit oh shit.”

When the door was about halfway up, there was a sudden jolt and the music got loud and intense. I looked up and saw this:

I was cornered. As the killer walked toward me, I started cycling through my inventory, hoping I could defend myself with something. Wad of paper? Nope. Wallet? Nope. Broken cell phone? OH SHIT HE’S COMING CLOSER. Keys? Maybe? I might be able to hold them in my fist like Wolverine claws like they tell women to do when they’re in a parking lot at night. Left-click. Nothing. Right-click. NO, DON’T PUT THEM AWAY! HE’S RIGHT THERE! FUCK! Now he’s right in front of me and I have a wad of paper in my hand! Can I punch him? OH SHIT HE’S HOLDING A METAL BAR. RUN!

And then he swung, and the screen went black.

I stared at the screen, heart still pounding. I wondered if I had done something wrong. The game started in the garage. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on. Was this the last checkpoint, or did the killer knock me out again and leave me here? Eventually I figured out that no, Hedgehog, you failed and this was the last checkpoint. I decided to try out the ladder I’d found earlier.

I carried the ladder out of the garage, still expecting the killer to come running at me. I wondered if there was a time-limit. Maybe he finds you if you take too long to escape after you first try the garage door. I found a place behind the garage to put the ladder. As I climbed my way to freedom, I thought, “There’s no way it’s this easy. Something horrible is going to happen.” I looked around, hoping that, since I was high off the ground, I might be able to see him coming.

Still nothing.

I went ahead and jumped the fence. As soon as I landed on the other side, the game saved. That’s never a good sign. Something bad always happens right after a checkpoint. Still, there was a fence and a murderer behind me. The only way to go was forward.

From this side of the house, I could see the lights from the city off in the distance. I had made it out! Freedom was so close!

As I ran forward, there was a familiar jolt, the music intensified, and I turned around to see the killer standing behind me. This time I didn’t even try to fight. I wanted to run, but I fumbled with the sprint button and he caught up to me.

BAM.

I stared at the loading screen again, feeling stupid. The game started outside the fence I had just cleared and there was no way back. So much for the garage.

When he appeared this time, I ran directly at him. Who knows? I thought. Maybe the trick is to intimidate the killer by appearing louder and faster and crazier than him. Maybe if I surprise him, I’ll be able to overpower him and escape. Yes, clearly a senseless act of aggression is the solution here.

BAM.

After getting hit in the head a few more times, I eventually outran him.

I made it to the front gate with him right behind me, and then two police cars pulled up. I was saved! They yelled at me to get down on the ground, and when I looked behind me, the killer was gone.

The game cut to a conversation in the police station. The main character is being interrogated, begging the police to believe that he had been lured there. The officer tells him that the neighbors reported someone matching his description running around the property and there was no evidence of anyone else being there. When they found him, he had the victim’s wallet in his pocket, blood on his hands, and his fingerprints were on the body. As far as they were concerned, he was guilty. He would be in prison for a very long time.

I was outraged. I had already told them that a man called me and arranged to meet me there. They really couldn’t be bothered to check my phone records? Did we forget that I’d been hit in the head? Shouldn’t they have someone look at me? Do they have a time of death for the victim? Where’s my lawyer?

The game ends with the main character sitting alone in the interrogation room. It was devastating. I’d fought so hard to escape, and now I was going to prison for a crime I didn’t commit. That was the whole point of the killer luring me there. He won.

It was sickening. Apparently, the solution for the whole situation was: do nothing and wait for the authorities to arrive. Sure, I might have starved to death if I hadn’t been smart enough to get out of the first room, but at least I wouldn’t be this guy’s scapegoat.

Or maybe there was another solution: at the very, VERY beginning, call a friend and tell them that I was about to meet a creepy guy in the middle of nowhere, or maybe complain about it on social media. If I had checked in on Facebook with “gonna meet some weirdo 4 work lol #ihatedriving,” would I still be going to prison?

The game was superbly done. I’m a big fan of horror, but I tend to gravitate toward supernatural horror, with monsters and ghosts and the like. There was none of that in this game, but it still had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It had a good story, it looked great, and I loved the music. It was brilliant in its simplicity.

Also, I had to go back and replay the game a few times in order to get all the screenshots I wanted for this post. And I was pausing the game a lot so I could add more to what I’d already written, make a snack, chat with my roommate, etc. So according to Steam, it took me ten hours to pass a 40-minute puzzle game.

Also also, if you want more stuff about video games, hop over to A Gamer’s Story and check out his blog.

Congratulations on making it to the end of this ridiculously long post! High five, you.

TTFN!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Data Entry Turns You Into a Zombie

Before I got fancy and moved to Germany (“fancy” here means “I spend my entire day in the S-Bahn and climb a lot of stairs”), I did data entry for a few years.

Data entry is hard for most people. Your entire job is to sit alone in a cubicle and type. Even if you need to ask someone a question, there is very little human contact. You might have a short conversation, and then you go back to your desk and type for another few hours. My shift was from 3:30 to midnight, which meant when I got out of work, the streets were empty and all of my loved ones were asleep.

I fucking loved this job. It’s the perfect place if you’re an introvert with the social skills of a coconut that’s been set on fire. If you time your bathroom breaks just right, you don’t even have to look at another human being.

coconut

You want to pay me to sit all by myself and ignore people? I do that for free already!

*Image by Lisa Natalie Baker via Twitter

The people running this place got pretty into the holidays. They put up decorations and had events at the company for almost everything. But my favorite was what they did in October. Every week leading up to Halloween there were costume contests with different themes.

For one week, the theme was zombies. There was even a prize for the best costume. I was so excited.

It’s not like I was unhappy with they way I had to dress for work. The dress code was extremely casual there, so people typically wore jeans and T-shirts to work. I loved it, but I also love costumes.

My coworkers, apparently, did not.  The day of the costume contest looked like a normal day at the office. Everyone was wearing the usual T-shirt and jeans, exactly the same as every other workday.

Which was a shame, because I showed up like this:

13041364_1154429677921660_8542520061747019903_o

As I lurched through the office and looked at all of my costume-less colleagues, I thought, “Are you fucking kidding me?” In the time it took to get from the parking lot to my desk, I decided: there is a severe lack of Halloween spirit, and it’s my responsibility to make up the difference. Never fear, dear coworkers. Hedgehog is here to punish you for being boring!

What ensued was probably the most fun I have ever had while on the clock. One of my coworkers hadn’t seen me yet, so I snuck up behind him and waited for him to turn around. When he did, I snarled and lunged at him. He screamed as he jumped away from me. I think I almost gave him a heart attack.

I did feel a little bad about this.

But not bad enough to stop.

Every time I left my desk I would lurch around, flailing my arms and growling at the people near me. If someone crossed my path, I would chase them back to their desk.

The best part was my lunch break. As I was on my way to get my lunch, I noticed that someone made the mistake of leaving their office door open after they had left for the day. The office was situated in the hallway between the breakroom and the main building.

Then I got an idea. An awful idea. Hedgehog had a wonderful, awful idea.

I poked my head inside, peeked back out into the hallway, and thought, “I’ll take it!”

For the rest of my lunch break, I hid inside the empty office, waiting for people to walk by. When someone was about to pass in front of the door, I would jump out in full zombie-mode, screaming and clawing at the air. These innocent people went from taking a peaceful walk to the breakroom to cowering in terror in front of me.

The important thing to note here is: there were security cameras all over this building. I’m pretty sure someone was watching the whole thing. I’m also pretty sure that people throughout the building could hear what I was doing.

So why didn’t anyone stop me?

I’m sure what I did was very wrong. What kind of lunatic would do something like this? Does this count as workplace harassment? When I came to work the next day, I fully expected to get called into HR.

Instead, I got an email. “Congratulations!” it said. “You won the costume contest! Please come to the main office to pick up your prize.”

I had won a gift card to Walmart.

Posted in Shenanigans | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Teaching Medical English: Yay!

I started writing this during my third month of teaching, and then forgot about it for several months. Bad Hedgehog. A lot has happened since then. Thus, here are my thoughts as of some time in April.

***

I’ve only been teaching for a few months now and I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. So far, my teaching method has been “pretend to be a competent teacher and maybe they won’t notice.” It makes me feel like I have a decent shot at an acting career.

When I got hired, they asked me if I can teach English for any specialized field. The money-maker here is business English, but I don’t have a background in business.

But I do have a background in medicine.

For those of you that didn’t click on the link above, when I first started at university, I thought I wanted to be a medical examiner (the one who cuts up bodies to figure out why the person died). Medical school is expensive, so I decided to get a job in a hospital to see if I liked it before committing to $250,000 in student loans.

I hated it. Anything involving health-care is going to be understaffed and extremely stressful. I got into it because I wanted to help people, but it’s hard to give each patient careful consideration when you have to take care of 500 of them in a single workday. On top of being completely overwhelmed, there’s also the chance that you might kill someone if you make a single mistake. Most of the people I worked with on this job were burnt out and just didn’t give a fuck, which is a terrible environment for helping people.

So I hated the actual work, but I loved everything else. I loved learning the chemistry and biology, and how living things function and interact. I loved the terminology, which is basically a separate language on its own. I loved feeling like I was contributing, like the things I learned from this job could be applied to real life (I still have relatives asking me about the medications they’re taking).

When I quit that job, it felt like everything I had learned was going to waste. I was completely changing fields, and it didn’t matter that I knew how to make a sterile IV bag or that dysuria means it hurts when you pee.

I spent the next few years in a different city, studying something completely different and not giving health care a second thought. The hospital wasn’t exactly a waste of time (just think of all the character I built!), but all the time and stress and brain space I had allocated to this horrible job certainly wasn’t being put to use, either.

Then, years later, on the other side of the planet, this language school gets a doctor who wants a private English tutor to help him interact better with his patients. They look at all their teachers to see if any of them have medical experience to help this guy.

And then they call me. They even offer to pay me a bonus, because it’s in a specialized field.

This was probably the most fun I’d had in the classroom thus far. I made him do role plays where I was the patient and he had to diagnose me and give me instructions. We went over body parts and organs, common medications and side effects, and the most common things people go to a hospital for.

In one of the role plays, I was a patient concerned about pelvic pain. I figured he’s going to eventually treat a woman, so he might as well know these words.

I put a lot of work into preparing these lessons, and I was in my element. After not having thought about medicine for six years, I was shocked at how easily it all came back. No amount of preparation at the language school could have helped me answer some of the questions that came up during class.

          Student: How to explain deep-vein thrombosis to a patient?

          Me: Most patients don’t know what that is, so we say ‘blood clot’ instead.

This was something that I brought with me, completely outside the realm of teaching.

At the end of the week, he told me, “This was exactly what I needed. We didn’t have time to cover everything, but I can use what you taught me in other areas to help my patients.” He shook my hand and thanked me profusely.

It was extremely validating.

Later I realized that I forgot to erase the board after I left the room. I sincerely hope that “Is there blood in your pee?” and “We need to take a urine sample” struck fear into the hearts of the students who showed up early for the next lesson.

Posted in Living in Germany, Teaching | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment