Wo ist?

I'm sick of ordering milchkaffees and being totally stumped when asked for here or to go.

"For here" is easy - für hier - but I have yet to see "to go" written and therefore can't get a handle on it. My phrasebook has a few blind spots in it, "To go" being one, followed by "Another, please".

Has the Langenscheidt writer never gone drinking? Please.

I've been smiling and pointing a lot.

Yesterday I sat in a cafe and went through the phrase book, writing down everything I need to learn first. I wish I could say that I skipped the shopping section since my official line is that my backpack is full and I'm therefore not buying anything but the sad truth is that I PORED OVER THAT BITCH.

Do you have these in other colors?

Do you have size 8?

Where is the mirror?

And, finally, where is the dressing room? Which I will never ever say because it has 19 extra syllables in it.

Last night I went to dinner and to a Tango club with my housemate, Simone, who owns the room I'm renting and other temporary housemates who are staying in her room as couchsurfers.

I heard of the couchsurfers at the New Year's Eve party I went to this year but didn't jump on it because I was leery:

a) I don't have a place to offer and that seems like part of the deal and b) I've been thinking too much about serial killers.

I had a conversation in the kitchen with Simone my first morning in Berlin and she told me about her couchsurfing experiences in India, the people she's met and close friends she's made. She made a comment about how trusting people is a nice way to live.

For the next few days the apartment is full of girls, a real international pillow fight. The party is, however, largely contained to the other bedroom since I keep my own room and keys as the paying Craigslist tenant.

Last night we ate Thai food and watched Tango and it was beautiful and hot but really, really technical and every time a man walked within a ten foot radius of me, I prayed he'd keep his distance. My salsa skillz would NOT get me through a tango. I left with one of the couchsurfers after a few hours and immediately took a wrong turn. We were lost within minutes.

We were walking up the middle of a cobblestone street, her boots going click, click, click in the middle of the night darkness and we saw a man loading a carpet into the back of a van. "Will you ask him how to get to Schönhauser Allee?" She asked me, "Can you manage that?"

Emboldened by my studies earlier in the day, I busted out the question seamlessly. I rule. Until he started answering using words that fall into the 99 percent of the language that I'm not familiar with.

Fortunately he used his hands a lot so when he asked me what I think was, "Did you get that?" I nodded and mimicked what he'd just done with his hands, making little cartoon noises for emphasis. Then he laughed in my face and said what I think was, "Good luck."

Note to self: Learn some potential responses to the questions you ask. Just a few. You'll seem a lot less dumb.

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