The playlist ^ mostly listened to Ur cool, I’m Good, Yellow, Nothing but a Heartbeat and Even If I’m Loud Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking to You.
There is a police raid or a bomb threat or both at the airport and so the entire baggage claim area looks like a crime scene. “Wie lange müssen wir warten dann?” “Euh… 5 minuten oder 5 stunden… das kann ich nicht sagen…”. Great.
So somewhere between 5 minutes and 5 hours later I get my luggage and continue to the trains. The trains are all but one cancelled. Great. The one train that isn’t cancelled gets me there 30 minutes before the competition starts. I talk to the Swedish junior soccer team and we have a moment of mutual respect and admiration and I calm down for a bit.
We pass idyllic German landscapes, listening to music from Chihiro and I’m feeling awfully nostalgic about everything that’s changed. But it also reminds me that I’ll be in Japan soon enough and get to kiss and hug my sisters again. I get to Würzburg 20 minutes later than expected. I grab the first cab I see. I ask him if I can pay with a card and he says no.
Halfway through the trip to the university he tells me it’s going to cost 11 euros. Scraping all my coins together I have about 6. I offer to pay him in bob, kuai, Icelandic kronor, yen etc. We stop the meter and he tells me it’s been so nice just talking about life in Würzburg and helping improve someone’s German that he doesn’t mind. Awesome.
I get to the Informatikgebäude in time. Luckily memory competitions have a tendency to not run on time, no matter how well-organized and carefully planned (as was the case for the Würzburg Open). I get to hug all the people I adore and the weather is amazing. I’m so sleep-deprived and excited at the same time that everything has a surrealistic feel.
Spoken numbers trial 1
I get to all 200 without any hiccups. It feels perfect. I’m in flow. Something happens and I have to do recall on paper with not the best pens in the world. I mess up early on at 64 digits. Still a personal competition best. Hannes and Simon get over 100.
Spoken numbers trial 2
I just want to get 100 in competition. I choose my favorite location, the house I’ve lived in since I was 13. The house I saw for the last time just the day before coming to Würzburg. It has so many different rooms that I almost never mess up. It’s perfect and I’ve never felt so focused in my life. I realize I might’ve passed 100 a couple of locations ago. I stop. Rather memorize 100+ and get 100+ than memorize 400+ and get less than 100. I have loads of time to go through the locations. I only have one thing I’m unsure of. It’s either Obama with a bottle of absolut vodka (5243) or Obama dunking a basketball (5241). The thing is… I’ve seen Obama dunking a basketball on TV, so that imagery is really strong. I haven’t seen him stumbling around drunk.
I go with drunk Obama. I’m the only one left in the room. I go out and ask Jonas what it was. 5243. Phew. I am so happy. The Reulkes tell me I got a perfect 128. My score doesn’t show on the results page. But Annalena announces that I’ve won the discipline, I jump up and down and almost knock over a chair and turn into Boris for a second. Hannes says it was a good score with no sarcasm in his voice. Awesome.
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Lance posts on my wall saying “the queen of spoken digits” and it feels awesome and I’m hoping I’ll continue being that from now on.
Numbers 15 minutes
I’ve practiced this discipline maybe five times. Maybe. I go for a very safe 600 but somehow mess up and get 440. Oh well.
Cards 10 minutes
After getting 260 just last week I want to go for a semi-safe 312. It feels so natural – too natural maybe. I get cocky. I go for 6,5 decks because of mid-competition hubris. I botch it completely and get a little over 3 decks. Hannes scores 380 and gets the new world record.
They’ve forgotten how to get to the garage. After some mucking about we get into Boris’ car and drive to the Italian restaurant. The waiter and I start speaking Italian and I order the steak. I tell Wessel he’s sort of kind of my best friend. Malte tells me Måns Zelmerlöw will win the Eurovision Song Contest. I have no opinion about this. I tell Boris about my first tutoring session, that I taught a girl 100 decimals of pi and how much money I’m demanding from the different people who want me on their shows and/or in their documentaries and/or to teach their kids and I feel like I’ve grown so much in this department since the last time I spoke with him about getting paid what you’re actually worth.
Names and faces 5 minutes
The names are of the same difficulty as in Gothenburg, maybe only slightly harder. Two seconds before recall ends I remember Nganga – one of our chauffeurs in Nairobi, also a Facebook friend, also means tomato in Swahili. I also realize I was looking for the phrase “your d**k OH!” in the wrong languages. I was searching in Mongolian/German but I had memorized it in French. Goddamn Tabito.
It’s too late. I get 71. My score for this discipline in May is 71, 72, 71. Simon gets 77. It feels bad until Boris tells me he attempted more with better accuracy. Jan-Hendrik has it worse getting 66, 67 being the Junior record and he has several names that are just off by one or two letters. The scoring in names and faces feels unfair. But moreover I’m blanking completely on how to improve in this discipline.
Speed numbers trial 1
I’m just in the zone. I’m still using what Johannes Zhou, Jonas and I dubbed « The S.T.U.P.I.D. System » = a.k.a. a very dumb version of PAO that is very slow and uses 10 digits per location. But it works because I’m in the zone. I write it all down so fast and with so much certainty it feels alien. I get 280/280 – personal best in the house.
Speed numbers trial 2
I’m going for 320. Mess up somewhat but not brutally. 280 is still the better score.
Random words 5 min
I’m not running out of locations like last week in Gothenburg so I’ve prepared up to 130. I realize the words aren’t sorted so it feels really easy. The first column consists of only verbs, the second column is made up of abstract nouns then everything is just concrete nouns. It’s so easy it becomes hard. I sometimes don’t even put the words in the location. I miss two words on almost every column. I get 32/142. The scoring in words feels unfair and shitty. But I convince myself I’m just going to have to learn to be bulletproof.
Binary digits 5 min
I’m going for a safe 750 to get 750, because it leaves me enough time to repeat everything. I get 576. It always feels weird when you go safe and it still goes poorly. I know I got 681/900 the week before and start wondering whether I would’ve scored better if I hadn’t started repeating.
Abstract 15 minutes
I promise myself to go for a safe 450. We do it on paper. I break that promise and go for 550 because I forget to stop at 9 pages. The recall sheet is not as good as the memorization sheet. I get 383. Hannes gets 387 – one row more. For the third time in 2015, I mess up pretty badly in abstract but at least I got second place.
Once again, I forget to stop and repeat. Go through the entire list even though I never ever do that. I get 31.5. Personal worst? Not sure. This is the equivalent of getting less than 25 digits in XMT-numbers. Not OK.
Speed cards trial 1
I dance around, I get pumped up and as I slide my hand down a pillar that I dance past I cut all of my fingers on a poster. I’m an idiot, I run and grab the first aid-kit with my bleeding hand. It hurts like a mothertucker. I did not think that one through. Simon helps me find which of the million things in German is a band-aid. Soren offers me painkillers.
It’s awesome. 36 seconds. I stand up and do recall like Jonas and it’s so perfect I’m getting worried. I triple-check it. Boris is my arbiter. I’ve accidentally switched two cards. Two cards. I made a flying Kim Kardashian, even though it was obviously Thor trying to tape stuff. 18 cards. It doesn’t feel awesome.
Speed cards trial 2
My second deck isn’t shuffled. Nenette (Sorens wife – also has one of the prettiest names I’ve ever heard of) shuffles it for me. 33s. It feels a little so-so. In a last-minute stupid decision I’ve used one of my lesser journeys. It shows. I have four cards that I’m unsure of. 1 minute until recall time ends. I realize there are 16 possible combinations and the gaps I have are on location 3 and 24, so no matter where I mess up I’ll only get 4 cards. Shit.
I botch it.
Over at the other table there’s a roar and a world record is announced. I applaud hard, bleeding, sweaty post-speed cards fingers and all.
I still get 4th place and it feels great. And if only for this weekend I feel like I could really be great one day.
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Jonas juggles and memorizes spoken numbers. The Germans compete by memorizing flash numbers USA-style. Hannes is not so surprisingly the winner. Fabian Saal breaks some sort of record that has to do with Pi that I don’t completely understand.
I bid Wessel farewell in the morning, go for a long walk with music by myself and chat a bit with people I adore who aren’t with me irl. Meet up the others by the central station and say goodbye, get on the train to Frankfurt with JZhou and Jonas. I feel so happy. It feels like what I imagine hanging out on the Hogwarts Express would be like (minus Draco, the dementors and other drama.) In Frankfurt we eat at Johannes’ parents restaurant (Asia Express, iirc) which has such good food I force myself to continue eating even though I’m not feeling very hungry.
We get to the airport. I’ve reached conclusions about certain relationships and Jonas acts as a stand-in girlfriend (in lieu of Fro and Emilia not being by my side) and agrees with me. I feel free. We say goodbye. I’m thankful for Christian, Annalena and Boris and ALL OTHERS who made this weekend happen.
We fly to the coast of Croatia during sunset and there’s a scent of wild flowers everywhere and I can’t imagine the amount of kittens we’ve had to have saved in previous lives to be able to witness such beauty. A new week starts.