Thursday, June 22, 2017

Learning German: Mnemonics (Lesson 1?)

My best friend and apparent life partner Cody wants to move to Germany with me and all our 974 cats at the end of next year and, while I'm not sure that's actually feasible so soon, I like the idea. Just in case my writing becomes so famous that I retire from my day job and can write full time in Munich, I've been using apps on my phone and some print-out practice sheets off the internet to teach myself German.

Many of the words are exactly what they appear to be and I don't need any sort of help in remembering what they are (der Snack is exactly what it sounds like, for instance) but some things, especially now that I'm getting out of the simple, "how are you?" lessons, are tougher to remember. So, I've come up with some mnemonics to recall what's what and I figured I'd impart some of those to you in case you too are trying to learn German.

I used a few different apps, which has been nice because they each help me learn in different ways and once I do a lesson in one, there's no reason not to get onto at least one of the others to practice. Memrise works more with how my brain works and I feel like I pick things up there more easily than with Duolingo, but Duolingo feels like playing a game, so that works for my brain in its own way. I like Tiny Cards (by the same company as Duolingo) because the flash card aspect is helpful in just straight memorization and as a quick reminder of what it is I've forgotten.

The first things I had to memorize were the conjugated forms to "to be" (sein).

"I am" translates to "Ich Bin" and I just remembered that "ich" starts with "I" which is how I refer to myself. If you're feeling hard on yourself for not being able to remember, just remember that "bin" is also where garbage goes and goddamn you are a garbage human being for not remembering that "bin" gets paired with "ich." Also, that "ich" sounds almost like "ick" which is what people think when they see you, you trash monster who doesn't instantly know an entire other language. So, "Ich bin" is how you'd start to tell other people you are a piece of garbage who belongs in the trash. Easy, right?

If you're referring to someone else you know well and talking directly to them, you would say, "du" which rhymes with "you" which is how you accusatorially address a friend who's stolen your favorite sweater: "YOU!" So, you can remember that DU is how you would casually start describing someone in front of you, assuming you know them well. Several languages like to differentiate between speaking to someone you know well and someone you need to speak to "formally," so you wouldn't say this to a new boss, only to that jackass pal who pilfered your cardigan.

So, you've started talking directly to someone you know, remembering that YOU rhymes with DU, and because you're remembering this as being aggressive, ("YOU!") you can think about being pissed, which sounds sort of like BIST, which is how you conjugate "sein" for someone you know. So, just remember that you're very angry at all your friends so you'll address them as Du bist, which rhymes with YOU! which comes out when you're pissed. Got it?

From there, I moved on to "we" which translates to "wir" and you can easily remember that wir is the "we" translation because they both start with W. When announcing "we are" you say, "Wir sind" which sounds sorta like "veer zinned" and sind is sort of like "sinned." I just remember that groups of people generally turn into assholes and get that crappy mob mentality and then they SIN everywhere, you know by looting or beating up some poor brown guy or something. So just remember, "we sinned!" when trying to recall how to say, "Wir sind/we are."

Some of these got a little political, okay?

Next we move on to that plural version of addressing people when you're in front of them: Ihr. This sounds sort of like, "ear" (though, like Arnold Schwarzenegger is saying it, so without the defined R sound: ee-ah") so I think of that guy in the Caesar play standing in front of a group of people asking, "Lend me your EARs!" (many of these are very stupid; feel free to judge me). The "to be" form for Ihr is, "seid" which is said with a Z sound as so many Ss in German seem to be (remember, I'm only like 6% into the training), but otherwise is like SIDE. So, IHR SEID is "you (guys) are" in German.

But now you're standing in front of a group of people asking them to lend you their EARs and, as we've established, groups of people are typically terrible. So, there's a change you could get a shitload of tomatoes (die Tomaten, just in case you're curious what that is in German) hurled at your head when you start talking. If that happens, you may want to duck to the SIDE. So, IHR SEID.

Got these tucked into the folds of your brain yet?

I don't have mnemonics for all of these, since some of them just stuck and made sense to me from the start, but in case you're wondering what the rest of the TO BE forms are, they're as follows:

Es/sie/er ist (it/she/he is); sie sind (they are); Sie sind (you [formal], are).

German seems to be less complicated than English in that you can mean different things by saying the same thing, and then you extrapolate from context. So, "Ich esse Gemüse" can be both "I am eating vegetables" and "I eat vegetables." If someone says that to you and they aren't eating, obviously you figure they mean they eat them in general and not that they're currently stuffing their face with eggplants. Therefore, even though "Sie sind" and "sie sind" are basically the same on their own, you can figure out from the context whether they're speaking to you formally or about a group of people off in the distance. Sie sind Männer (they are men) vs Sie sind ein Mann (you (sir) are a man).

Since you've got SIND memorized as belonging to a plural amount of people (since you would only say "wir sind" about you and at least one other person, not about JUST you) then you can remember that sind is plural, so when it's attached to "sie" it must mean multiple people ARE, not one person IS.

IST wasn't hard for me to remember as being "is" since it's only one letter off. Therefore, it was easy for me to remember that when talking about a single person or thing ("she/it/he") it would be like in English and you would say "_____ is(t)." Es being "it" and Er being "He" are two things that just made sense to my brain without any memorization needed, so I didn't have a trick for that. "Sie" looks similar to "She" so when I would see it paired with "ist" I would just know it's singular: SIE IST=SHE IS.

I have more mnemonics, so if this has been funny/helpful to people, I can definitely write more of them up, but if not, hopefully this has been enjoyable to read. Also, if my memory is garbage (because Ich bin Müll) and some of these examples are wrong, feel free to let me know! Just don't be a jackass about it.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cold Feet update + Birthday trip pictures

Well, I obviously didn't make the May 1st deadline for Cold Feet's release. I've instead decided on the 10th (psst, you can pre-order the kindle here!), just so it's still available before I have my author event. I've finished all the edits and now I'm just waiting for the files to be approved and all that.

Other than that, my life's been mostly taken up by hobbling around awkwardly. My birthday was the 20th of April so I took my friend to Germany with me and had a lot of fun right up until I fell down some stairs and sprained my ankle.


It's been two weeks and it still hurts! My foot is still slightly swollen! I still have to hobble and work's been miserable, since part of my job is walking around a lot delivering stuff. Booo.

Other than that, though, Germany was pretty nice. Berlin was your typical big, dirty city, but it had some really amazing history. Munich was lovely, even though two of the four days we were there ended up being holidays so everything was closed D:

It was still a cool experience, though.

Here we are in Munich. Cody's on the right and, yes, he always looks like I'm holding him hostage.
That is the face I would also make if some dude wearing only a towel sat on me.

We visited Cafe Katzentempel, a cat cafe, and I fell in love with this guy. Look how much he loved me back!
Touch the muzzle for good luck!
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, with a stunning sky in the background

The Reichstag in Berlin
Me getting scolded at Checkpoint Charlie for saluting with the wrong hand, just like Lois Lane (if you get that joke, I'll give you free copies of my books)
I am this fat horse in Salzburg. This fat horse is me.

I highly recommend going to Salzburg! Not that I don't recommend going to Munich and Berlin, I just really loved Salzburg so much. It was idyllic and I can't wait to visit again.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cover Reveal: Cold Feet

It's heeeeere! Gwen's third cover! I'm so excited to get this book out. It's probably my second favorite of Gwen's books, mainly because it involves a lot of what I love to write best for her: sniping. Gwen is an excellent sniper. Not... like, with guns or whatever; that's Chloe's deal. Gwen's good at the verbal type of sniping, where she and someone else--usually Mel--argue and insult each other for no good reason.

And Cold Feet has a lot of reason for that!

“Will you marry me?” Mel asks, making Gwen suspect maybe his presence has finally given her an aneurism. Of course she won’t, she thinks, before he offers her the most delicious cupcake she’s ever eaten.

Hang on, she reconsiders, maybe this could work.

Mel’s not completely sure it can work either, but he’s got a problem that Gwen seems unusually suited to solving. There’s a shady marriage counselor that bears investigating and seeing as how Gwen’s a therapist herself—and an empath—her help could be just what Mel needs.

The only downside for them both is that, despite no longer totally hating each other’s guts, now they’ve got to play nice. Not completely nice, luckily; no couple goes to counseling because they get along too well.

Gwen always knew spending a week with Mel would nearly kill her.

Doesn't that sound fun?! It is, I promise. Gwen and Mel finally start to work out what their friendship is exactly, we learn more about Mel in general, and there are werewolf puppies, people. PUPPIES! There's also a bit of a bombshell at the end, one that Gwen will need some time adjusting to, so that should be fun.

I'm aiming to have Cold Feet out come May 1, both in ebook AND in print. Are you excited?! You are, I've decided.

If you're in the Seattle area, you can celebrate with me by coming to my very first author event!

May 13 at 2pm I'll be doing a reading from Mixed Feelings and giving out free donuts and bookmarks. I'll sign books, if people want, and answer questions if anyone has any, though I have a sneaking suspicion people will just show up for the donuts.

It's going to be in Bothell, WA at The Neverending Bookshop. If you want to support a local, vegan author, come by! If you just want to browse a small, woman-owned bookshop, stop by! If you have nothing to do that day, stop by!

Please, guys, I'm desperate. It'll be fun, I swear!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

March Fatness LAST DAY!

Day 31 - Friday

Motivation: I didn't die!

Ate: Latte, tea, a few cans of coke.

Moved: I ran a few errands, that's it.

Felt: Still crappy.

Etc: Leanne and I want to keep this going, though, not on the same wavelength as we've been doing now. I'll probably still do updates here and there and I'm going to try to work out at least five days a week and hope it all works out to me losing weight somehow. I know I CAN do it, it's just about forcing myself to actually accomplish it all.

Technically I did lose weight, but I can only attribute about 5lbs of it to exercise. The other few were just from depression and not eating for four days.

Starting weight: 179
Current Weight: 172

Gratuitous Cat Picture:
A post shared by Via B. (@naeko) on

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Fatness Days 29 & 30

Day 29 - Wednesday

Motivation: *middle finger emoji*

Ate: latte, tea.

Moved: Nope.

Felt: Terrible.

Etc: Ugh.

Gratuitous Cat Picture:
A post shared by Via B. (@naeko) on

Day 30 - Thursday

Motivation: Thank god this is almost over.

Ate: Latte, tea, kobucha, a handful of Fritos, fries and a falafel sandwich.

Moved: Again, I didn't really. It's not pain, I just got real depressed. I ran some errands, but probably didn't walk more than two miles total.

Felt: Junky.

Etc: I've failed in my March Fatness plans, but hopefully my body's changed enough to motivate me to keep going.

Gratuitous Cat Picture:
A post shared by Via B. (@naeko) on

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March Fatness Days 27 & 28

Day 27 - Monday

Motivation: None at this point, I'm in too much pain.

Ate: Too much! We have pie in the house and then I ate almond butter cups because I just want tasty things that make me feel better.

Moved: As little as possible.

Felt: Horrrrible.

Etc: My kidney infection is probably kidney stones, which are too painful to allow much movement. I get an ultrasound Tuesday and I've started antibiotics and some nearly useless painkillers.

Gratuitous Cat Picture:
A post shared by Via B. (@naeko) on

Day 28 - Tuesday

Motivation: everything sucks.

Ate: PB&J, peanuts, tea, atte, and fritos

Moved: I didn't, I slept most of the day.

Felt: Awful.

Etc: I hate life.

Gratuitous Cat Picture:
i hate life as much as Lump hates consciousness.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sunday Check-in #4

Everything seems to be the same for all three of us. I haven't lost any weight, and Leanne says she's gained weight. Naomi hasn't gone back on her dechox pledge, and so things are about the same. Just five more days to go, though I don't think I'm going to make it through the full month of exercise. I'm in too much pain to do much, let alone actually move enough to burn calories.

I'm gonna get to the Dr. soon and hopefully be back to fighting form soon enough to to get a few more days in on my #MarchFatness pledge. I started at 179lbs, and am still the same! Ugh.

Leanne's update:

Honestly I don't know what's going on this week. I've been running around like a headless chicken with work so although there was no gym, I still got some form of exercise by walking to clients houses.

I've been ill this week so food has been sporadic. Mostly I've not felt like eating then on Friday night I caved and we had Chinese. Come to weigh myself and I am now 3lbs heavier again. Is it water retention? I don't know but it's pretty goddamn demoralising. Also I'm pretty sure I'm growing a third chin. My neck looks fatter.

It's not that I expected this to be easy- I knew it wouldn't be, but surely I should be making at least some progress by now, shouldn't I?

Current weight 308lbs. I'm a hippo. Bollock to everything.