I’ve started translating Book 6 of My Struggle from German to English. I got a copy today in the little town in Germany where I am from a lady who was quiet like a dove and seemed reticent to speak English even though her English was approximately 6,438 times better than my German. Not that my German is non-existent, though. In the little Air Bnb where I’m staying there’s a Turkish woman named Zelda and we only speak German together. We just had a conversation in the kitchen, for example.
“What did you do today?”
“Today I went to (something that I didn’t understand but sounded like the word “Autumn”)”.
“But I’m going out again. With my cousin.”
“Are you going dancing?”
“Yes, but Turkish dancing. Turkish music.”
“How is Turkish dance?”
(Something I couldn’t understand that I think involved the word “hairdryer”).
Then she left the kitchen and I resumed eating my tortellini that I got for 0.39 cents at the grocery store. Going to this grocery store was one of the highlights of my day. The other highlight was sitting in a wonderful cozy bakery in the mall, in the corner in a soft armchair, watching old people talk. I like watching old people talk. I like watching old people do just about anything. They’re never in a hurry. They’re never on their cell phones. Imagine an 80 year old sitting slouched in a chair staring into his iPhone. It would be a comical, and sort of sad sight.
That said, I’ve basically watched YouTube videos all day.
Here’s what I have of My Struggle Book 6 so far, thanks to the German I know and wordreference.com and Google Translate. Note: The reproduction of this is for educational purposes only. To see how good (or bad) a translator I am.
My Struggle Book 6
By Karl Ove Knausgaard
Translated by Mark Wetzler
In the middle of September 2009 I drove to Thomas and Marie’s small country house, between Höganes and Mölle, he was supposed to take photos of me for the next novel. I’d rented a car, a black Audi, and drove with a powerful feeling of joy in my chest in the late morning heading north along the four-lane highway. The sky was completely clear and blue, the sun shone as if in summer. The Öresund sparkled on the left, on the right stretched stubble fields and pastures separated by fences, streams, along which deciduous trees grew, abrupt forest edges. I had a feeling as if this day did not exist at all, it stood like an oasis of summer in the midst of this pale autumn landscape; and because the sun isn’t supposed to shine so brightly and the sky isn’t supposed to be so saturated with light, I felt, in spite of the joy, a rising unease within me, but suppressed the thought in the hope that this feeling would disappear on its own, and instead sang along to the chorus of Cat People, which was coming from the speakers, and enjoyed the view of the city emerging to my lift, the shipping cranes, the smoke stacks, the warehouses. These were the outskirts of Landskrona I was passing, just as how a minute earlier I’d passed Barsebäck with its characteristic and always somewhat terrifying silhouette of the nuclear power plant in the distance. The next city was Helsingborg, and the country house I wanted lay ten, twenty kilometers outside the city.
I was late. First I’d sat for a long time in the parking lot in the big, cool car in the parking garage, because I didn’t know how to start it; and I couldn’t just go to the rental car company and asked them, I was scared they’d take the car away from me if I revealed such total ignorance, so I checked the manual, flipping back and forth, but there wasn’t anything about starting the engine. I checked the dashboard, then the key, which wasn’t a key but a black plastic disk. I’d opened the car by squeezing the disk and was now wondering if the car could be started using a similar method. There was definitely no ignition on the steering wheel column. But that there? That was just a groove.
I put the plastic disk in, and the car started. For the next half hour I drove through downtown Malmö looking for the right arterial road. When I finally reached the highway I was already nearly an hour late.
When Landskrona had disappeared behind the ridge, I fumbled for my cell phone in the passenger seat, found it and dialed the number for Geir A. He had introduced me to Thomas at the time, meeting in a boxing club when Thomas was working on a photo book about boxing and Geir was writing a treatise on the same subject. They were an unlikely couple to say the least, but they had great respect for each other.
Hello, my friend, said Geir.
Yeah, hey, I said. Would you do me a favor?
Can you call Thomas and tell him I’ll be an hour late?
Of course. But you’re on your way, right?
It’s fantastic — a change. But now I need to pass a truck.
I can’t talk on the phone at the same time.
That’s all I have for now. Like I said, this is for educational purposes, to see which sentences sound awkward, I do not own this content.
It’s cold outside and I’m wondering if I should go out. Maybe I should go to Frankfurt, go to a club. It’s only 26 km away. Who knows what kind of weird night I could have. I could get drunk and dance. Take drugs. But I know I won’t do this. I know I’ll stay in this little town and eat oranges and probably in a little bit have some yogurt with apple and muesli. I’ll probably google “Pulisic” and “Dortmund” again, just as I mindlessly do many times a day. Maybe I’ll do some more Duolingo. Maybe I’ll translate a bit more of Book 6. And then at some point I’ll clean up my room a bit, have another glass of water or two, brush my teeth, attempt to read Walden for a few minutes and fail, and then go to bed. And then tomorrow is Sunday. Sundays in German are always boring, because everything’s closed. But there is a bakery open tomorrow, and I’ll be there. Lord knows I’ll be there.
I kind of wish I had gotten wine at the grocery store. But instead I got Haribo.
I told myself when I started writing this I was going to write until the wee hours of the night, but I feel like I’ve already run out of things to talk about. I’ve talked a little about my Air Bnb, about the Turkish girl. I’ve talked about my day. It snowed today, that was also nice. When I was in the cozy bakery. Watching the old people. Drinking hot chocolate. Drinking hot chocolate and watching old people and watching the snow go by. Not a lot of snow. Just a little. But it’s cold here. When I went out last night I had a rain jacket over my wool jacket. And also swim trunks over a pair of long underwear because my only pair of pants was in the dryer. And then tonight I went out for a run basically wearing the same outfit and it was glorious. I left the town and everything was quiet and I went by two dogs wearing glow collars and then I was by myself, trying not to fall, and I got to the end of an elevated trail alongside the river and stopped, checked my stopwatch, and had been running for 10 minutes. That’s enough. I hate running. I don’t understand how you could like running. If you want to get exercise play soccer or basketball or handball or football or field hockey or rugby or do ANYTHING BUT RUN. Running is so boring. I suppose you get into a sort of trance, like I do when I’m walking, but it’s hard for me to get into that trance when I’m running because all I’m thinking is, “This sucks this sucks this sucks this sucks why would anyone do this my wife will not be a runner she will scorn runners.” But who knows, maybe my wife will be a runner. Maybe she’ll be Japanese. Or maybe I’ll never get married. Maybe I’ll die old and alone. Or young and alone. Or just alone. Or old and happily married. Or old and sort of happily married. Or maybe I’ll never die at all. Maybe I’ll just sit in a random Air Bnb in the outskirts of Frankfurt for the rest of eternity, eating oranges and drinking instant coffee and watching Bundesliga by myself. And smoking cigarettes.
OK, gotta take a break now. Gotta throw the orange peels in the trash and maybe make some tea. Or coffee???? One more instant coffee????? That would be insane. It would send my bowels into turmoil. But I’m tempted.
So, one thing I haven’t told you yet and should probably tell you now since I don’t know how much longer I can drone on is that this is the last post. After this, Where’s Wetzler will no longer exist. And it’s not that I don’t like writing, it’s just that it’s time for a change. I don’t know exactly why, or what will come out of the change, but I feel like it’s the right thing to do. So that’s why I wanted to sit down and type with nine fingers about nothing, just to write.
The rest of my time in Germany will be spent walking around this small little town, going to the bakery, and then going to a Dortmund game on Tuesday. They play Mainz. It will be the second Dortmund game I’ve been to, but Christian Pulisic didn’t play in the first one so it doesn’t really count. I came to Europe basically to see him play, and then he got injured. I didn’t think I’d see another game, but here I am, ready to watch them play Mainz in Mainz on Tuesday. I don’t have my ticket yet. I might get a really good one for 50 euros. I can justify because I just did some work for my friend Nate, some translating work, and it sort of feels like free money. Plus, who knows when I’ll see Dortmund play again? On Wednesday I’m flying back to The States, and I don’t see myself coming back to Europe anytime soon. If I do travel it will probably be to Mexico, or Colombia, or Alaska, or Asia. But I don’t think I’ll be back in Germany anytime soon. Though who knows. I love Germany. I love the German language. I love the strange sentence order. I love the order of things in general in Germany. I love how they don’t give a crap about pedestrians in Germany because Germans are selfish. I love how when a train leaves 30 seconds late in Germany they start crying. I love how the trains never leave 30 seconds late. I love pronouncing the word “Bücher.” And I love the cold, the snow, the bleakness.
Thank you for reading this blog, friends and family and one person I didn’t know but now know after a few glasses of wine in Paris. This is not sad, to let this blog go. Sometimes it’s good to have new phases in our lives, and that’s what’s happening for me. Where’s Wetzler has existed for almost 10 years now, and it’s time for a change. As I said, I will continue to write in some sort of capacity. Writing for me should be fun. If it’s not fun, I don’t want to do it anymore. Writing for me should be unstructured. There shouldn’t be rules. I shouldn’t feel like I have to “do” anything.
I’m finishing up my last round of physical therapy for tonight. I’m excited to get back and get the wire taken out of my wrist. Too much wire. No one wants wire in their wrist. And God, I wish I hadn’t done that surgery, but that’s neither here nor there.
I’m not going to reflect on what I’ve learned in the last 10 years of travel, because I feel like anything I would say would be trite. I’ll leave that for another time, the next time, or I’ll leave that for my new “Wellness Journal” I’ve been keeping every night where I write down five things I did well that day, and then five things I could’ve done better. I don’t HAVE to put five for the things I could’ve done better. For example, if I live perfectly, and drink tea, and all is in harmony, then I don’t have to write anything at all. If If I just sit and guzzle green tea and meditate then I just write the word “Perfect” and turn my computer off. But that’s not usually what I do with my days.
I’ll end this by answering the question that is the name of the blog one last time: My name is Mark Wetzler. I’m 34 years old. I’m a Leo. And right now I’m in Flörsheim, Hessen, Germany.
Drinking a cup of tea.