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At 11PM I set my cellphone alarm to go off in five hours. I tell myself I’m just going to hear the alarm, ignore it and go right back to sleep. My sleep time is a sanctuary. I camp out on the couch by the computer so I can’t give myself a reason not to get to it. Zzzzz.

The pulse of “Funky Band” ringtone filters through my consciousness. What the? I grope for the phone, and the time reads 3:00AM. Did I misprogram the alarm? Nope, it’s a phone call from my son in the other room. I hear dead air on the line. He must have butt-dialed me. I go back to sleep.

Chirp chirp chirp. That’s the 4AM alert. Amazingly, since I was wakened from deep slumber at 3, I was not too groggy at 4. That, plus the fact that I had to use the bathroom, prompted me to easily roll off the couch. Note to self: if I ever have to rise before the chickens again, remember to drink tons of liquid before bedtime.

Brêkvis met Derrich, indeed. Derrich may be brêkking his vis, but I’m still digesting my pre-midnight snack. If there is no law against waking up in the dead hours, there ought to be one — with a life sentence and no parole. Was my brain parked on “stupid” when I set that alarm? …Grunt.

“Cut the whinging, suck it up and stick it in gear, Grant,” barked the pushy Wakeup Angel as she mercilessly whacked me with her wand.

I fire up the computer at 4:02. Geez, I hope they didn’t start the show without me. The last time I watched a TV show a few minutes late, I missed Josh Groban’s entire opening performance. I quickly log onto RSG, and I hear a woman announcer reading the news. Well, this is not the right sound. The host, Derrich Gardner is male. Did I miscalculate the time difference? If I don’t catch any hint of David in a bit, I am back to REM in a snap.

I start up my audio recording program, Audacity. I hit the record button. I should see spikes of sound, but it’s flat lining. Blast. I’ve got no input sound. Now that’s just ducky. My hubby fixed the sound card just yesterday, and the settings may have changed. For a few sweaty panicky minutes I poke around the system’s audio settings, hoping the newscaster continues to stall for me until I figure it out.

Drawing on the three brain cells active at this godforsaken hour, and some sheer luck, I get the recording working. Just in the nick of time as they cut to Pretoria and the Kolonnade Centre announcement for David Fourie. Hmm, I thought it was to be an interview, not a concert. What a delightful surprise! He starts off with my favourite Jy Soen Soos ‘n Engel and follows shortly with my other favourite, Vir ‘n 100 000 Jare.

David Fourie - Vir 'n 100 000 Jare

David Fourie - Vir 'n 100 000 Jare

As I’m listening, I had an epiphany … this is my very first David Fourie concert! I’m huddled in front of the keyboard and soft glow of the computer screen, like the proverbial gathering around the family RCA listening to The Voice of Firestone.

David is actually singing live, a coupla thousand miles away, on a whole other continent!!!! A little chill of excitement rushes through me. I am nearly as much a part of his audience as the people standing in front of him. Though I can’t give the same immediate audience feedback, I can do so electronically. All this, thanks to a personal invitation from a new friend to kom luister, through the magic of the internet, and a radio station that reaches its tendrils throughout the world.

Radio Sonder Grense

Radio Sonder Grense

Music from a CD has its own beauty and perfection, and sounds the very same on every play. But there is absolutely nothing like the raw energy of a live performance. I like the audience interactions. He had the audience sing with him on Lucky, and I think he had some girls dance along to Kaboemielies. He sang some songs from his new CD, and returned to some of my favourite standards, Land in die Suide, Hou My Vas, Stywer Vas. That latter was cut short for some reason, but he soldiered onto the next song just fine.

Sandwiched between David’s numbers (after all, this is David’s concert! :)), I half-listened to some cool acts and guests: an office band, singer Bianca le Grange , the manager of the Centre, a contestant winner(?), and a rep from the zoo. Once in a while the RSG feed would skip out, and has to reconnect and reload the buffer for what seemed the most excruciatingly long amount of seconds.

At noon Pretoria time (6AM NY time), I crawled back into bed, and slept another four hours. Good thing it was a weekend. As I am no college student, partying up til the wee hours, and bouncing back in the AM, this body will surely pay me back today.

For a David Fourie concert, it is quite worth the price!

… at the language learning. It’s only been two months but I can’t let a day pass,  without practice.

I began at Dr. DuPlessis’ website, Afrikaans.us. At first, I couldn’t find a “starting point”, but that’s the best feature of the site. It’s self-directed. I also like the fact that all the Afrikaans is accompanied by English translations and the vocabulary lists have pronunciations. I bought Lydia McDermott’s “Teach Yourself Afrikaans” book and CDs. I’ve been plugging away at that since day 1. I’m working on chapters 4 and 5.   If I get stuck on a lesson, I move forward on the CD to familiarize myself with the new dialogues.

I get my daily Afrikaans fix, by a couple a methods. I try to interpret one article, from Die Burger online. Even if I have to look up every third word, it’s good exercise.

Once in a while, I’ll visit Radio Sonder Grense. That’s just pressing my proverbial nose against the window. I remain on the other side of the glass in listening skills.

I use ANKI, a brilliant piece of freeware, that shows flashcards based on timed intervals. It tests my hardest vocabulary words at a greater frequency than my easy words.

Even my web browser speaks Afrikaans to me, both at home and work. I installed the Afrikaans version of Firefox, and now, among the other commands I learned, I “open skakel in nuwe oortjie”! My IT gal at work may not have appreciated that, when she has to remote into my computer,  because one day my Firefox mysteriously reverted back to speaking English again.

In order for me to not get stuck in a learning rut, when I don’t feel like memorizing vocabulary, I’ll go watch Kwela or Egoli. I’m not even an American soap opera buff, so I force myself to watch “Egoli”, for the English subtitles. Kuduclub.com has a subscription-free viewer area.

Here’s a shameless plug. It was on the Learn Afrikaans yahoo group (thank you forumites!) where I found a pointer to a textbook used in South African schools. I ordered directly from the author’s website, and received my copy just this week. The book is “Afrikaans Handbook and Study Guide.” (approx $17USD, postage paid). http://www.afrikaanshandbook.co.za The author, Beryl Lutrin, also happens to be a lovely woman!

I can’t say enough good stuff about this book. It contains everything I wanted to learn about … everything! Namely, grammar, and the rules about “om” and “te”, and word order. My goal is to get to a point where I can think in whole correct thoughts/sentences, sans translation.

I think reading helps a lot, in that it give me a feel for the word order without having to translate too much. A learning by osmosis, as it were. At least Afrikaans doesn’t have that many difficult rules and few exceptions. In contrast, an English learner has know that “bough” and “bought” sound like “bow” and “bawt”.

English is my native language. I retain a lot of the vocabulary from the Latin I learned in school.  I picked up a wee bit of Spanish while living in the city for many years. And I have a child’s level of fluency in the language of my parents.  So Afrikaans is a sort of “fifth language” for me. Sometimes I experience what I call “language leakage.” If I can’t remember the Afrikaans word for something, I mentally substitute a Latin word.  “Nobody is eating the meat. ” becomes “Nemo die vleis eet.”   It should be “Niemand”.

I know about 300 words in Afrikaans, and recognize a lot more.   I’m targeting 5000 words, so I have quite a ways to go. Unfortunately this is real life, and not a movie;  I can’t pick up the language as fast as the way Neo plugged into kung fu in The Matrix!

Overall, it’s fun and enjoyable. I feel challenged and accomplished.  I had a fleeting funny thought,  that if I ever got stuck in Scrabble with a rackful of vowels,  I could clear it out with a few choice Afrikaans words!

Onward!