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02 October 2010 @ 10:49 am
TL,DR (now with REAL grammar action!)  
It was a pretty good week, despite Remy being sick for a few days. On Monday, I went to one of the nearby libraries for a meeting of a German conversation club. The moderator of the club emails news articles to everyone, then you're supposed to read those and come to the meeting prepared to discuss them- auf Deutsch, natürlich. I always try to keep up with reading and listening, but prior to Monday, I hadn't actually attempted to speak German in ages. The last occasion was over the phone, with my mom's friend Simin, who lives in Germany. "Tante" Simin, as I call her, exchanges emails in German with me on occasion. She knows German and Farsi fluently, and just a smattering of English. Still, several times during our attempt at conversation, she was forced to explain herself in English because I was being a retard and couldn't figure out how to say what I wanted to say. I couldn't remember a word, or I was trying to juggle all the verb, gender, plural, and adjective ending rules, so my brain just seized up.

If you don't speak German often, It's all but guaranteed that you're going to screw something up ("Shit, how many goddamn verbs have to be thrown onto the end of this sentence?" That's the one that frequently gets me). Most native Germans are not forgiving about it. The nicer ones will detect your accent, and reply to you in English; on the whole, their English is damn good. The meaner ones will taunt you by asking ,,Was?" repeatedly.

I had no idea whether the conversation group was populated by native Germans or not. I also knew that they requested intermediate to fluent speakers only. And, the articles for this week's discussion were about Germany's atomic energy policy and the rising trend of domestic violence committed by females.

Was I intimidated? Hell yes. Here I hadn't exchanged a ,,Wie geht's?" in however long, and I would have to try stumbling through advanced topics. Well, I figured, it's a group discussion. I'll probably be listening most of the time anyway, and can just chime in whenever I feel brave.

So I went... and at the beginning, the moderator and I were the only ones there. I seem to have this uncanny ability to scare away regular members whenever I attend a club meeting for the first time. The moderator basically interviewed me about our topics. His German was very good, but I couldn't tell if he was a native speaker or not. I understood most of what he said, more than I could say back, but I held my ground. A couple of other girls showed up later to help round out the discussion, and I wound up having a pretty good time, even though there were several points where I had to stop mid-sentence because I didn't know how to phrase what was in my head. As my mom says, though, you just have to keep trying to spit it out. The next meeting is in two weeks, I'll definitely be going again.

On Tuesday, our friend Nick ("Apples") and his fiancee made a stop in Pittsburgh for a night- they're moving from upstate NY to Denver, CO. We took them out to dinner, and had a great time. I hope for the best for them in Denver. Visiting them out there one of these days should be awesome.

Remy was sick from Wednesday onward, unfortunately, but he's better now. Still, this counts as one of the more social weeks I've had in a while.

Otherwise, some random stuff I've been up to...

* Neverwinter Nights 2. Remy and I are playing jointly with a lawful good male elf ranger, which is working out pretty well. For fun, I started a second game, making my PC a neutral good female half-elf cleric. Playing as a good cleric is insanely fun, given the high number of undead to be found in this game.

Shadow Priest> Go forth, my minions! DESTROY THEM!

[multiple zombies and ghouls rise from the earth, shamble toward the party]

Me> ::uses Turn Undead ability::

[zombies and ghouls are instantly destroyed]

Shadow Priest> ...shit.

* I've started making pizza from scratch, instead of buying freezer pizzas. I make the sauce the night before, then mix the dough before work, let that sit in the fridge all day, then take it out a little more than an hour before I need it so it can get back to room temperature. I use half whole wheat flour for the crust, so the final product is very filling.

* I started a new "policy" with myself with regard to writing: I make myself add something to my existing draft(s) every day. Even if it's just one sentence, or a tweak to something I wrote earlier, that counts. The important thing is forcing the every day habit, even when I'm not feeling it.

I find that this has made me about a thousand times more productive than before. I have an original work in progress that I've been messing with for over a year. In around fifteen months' time, I managed to accrue about 120 pages of a first draft, with a long way yet to go. Then, I implemented my new policy. Two months later, 80+ pages of new material. I am not fucking around anymore.

* After years of abstinence, I'm working on a costume for Halloween. I bought a sewing machine and everything. This year, we live in a house that might actually receive some trick-or-treaters, so I figured it would be fun to dress up. We'll see how this goes...
though she be but little, she is fierce: oohgolden_d on October 2nd, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
Ooh! What's your recipe for pizza dough? We've been making our own pizza too - usually four-cheese, no sauce, using a store-bought crust, but I bet a homemade crust is even better! =)
Miusherimiusheri on October 2nd, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
I nabbed the original recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which has a lot of good ones. Some of them are a little too PITA for my tastes, but the pizza dough is definitely not.

I doubled SK's original recipe, which makes for a thick dough/crust. You can halve these amounts for a thin crust.

3 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 all-purpose and 1 1/2 whole wheat)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup lukewarm water

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add the oil and water. Stir until it comes together. If needed, add a few more tablespoons of water, a little at a time.

Dump the doughy bits onto a floured surface, and knead them for about a minute, until you have a ball of dough. Spray your original bowl with non-stick spray, then put your dough back in there and cover it with plastic wrap.

From here, you can either let the bowl sit on the counter for an hour or two, or you can throw it in the fridge while you go to work, then take it out and let it get back to room temperature (which can take an hour or more). The dough should rise during this time. When you're ready to proceed, push a finger into the dough. If the imprint stays, the dough has risen enough. If it bounces back, let it sit for a little longer.

When it's ready, dump the dough back out of the bowl, and use your palms to push the air out of it. Ball it up again and put it back in the bowl, covered, for another 20 minutes. I use this time to heat up the oven/pizza stone, grate the cheese, prepare any other toppings, and dig out the sauce I made the night before.

Once you're ready, you can roll out the dough, throw on your toppings, then toss the whole shebang into the oven. I'm still experimenting with how hot the oven should be and how long I should leave the pizza in, but so far, 425 F for 10 minutes works pretty well. Next time, I want to try 500 F for the same amount of time.

I probably made this process sound really complicated, but trust me, it isn't! Enjoy!
Purrsia Kat: yespurrsia on October 7th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
That's so cool about your German group. To say my German is rusty is an understatement but at least I did know what all the snippets you put in your entry mean :-p

Homemade pizza is awesome :D Haven't tried to make my own dough though...that sounds good.

Oh and congrats on your writing progress!
Miusherimiusheri on October 8th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks! If you ever feel like practicing your writing, I'd be happy to exchange little emails with you in German. For listening practice, Deutsche Welle offers daily news segments that are spoken slowly, along with transcripts: http://rss.dw-world.de/xml/DKpodcast_lgn_de I usually have to look up a ton of words in order to keep up, but if you actually do it for one day, you're better prepared for the next day, as they often report updates on prior news items.

Making the pizza dough isn't hard at all- and that's coming from someone who normally hates making dough, LOL The harder part for me is rolling it out properly, but I'm getting better at it. I just suck at rolling out dough, especially for things like pie crusts. Practice makes perfect, I guess, and I really don't need to be making tons of pies, so... ;)