Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It's a bird! It's a plane! But this being Germany,

it's not Superman! That's right folks, it's

1 More Day

of unemployment, of vacation, of being my own boss. I have filled the past few weeks with tasks I had been putting off for another day - the visit to the Frauenartzt, tomorrow's visit to the dentist, travel vaccinations, a visit to a friend living out of town, and translation, translation, translation. Today, I headed off my former place of work to have lunch with my former colleagues, do a bit of (who'da thunk it) translation work and say "good-bye". Good-bye because every one of my now preciously limited vacations days are now spoken for for the rest of the calendar year and I don't know when I will see them again.

D. obviously thinks that my stress level isn't high enough - we're now watching die Weisse Hai - i.e. Jaws. I was going to make a snarky comment about bad German movie title translations, but we decided that "Kiefern" wouldn't have made much of a movie.

Here are two views from yesterday, a grey day in BW and friends on the way to a baby-bubbles class.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Is it me . . .

or do Americans not care at all about the Bernstein Zimmer? It seems to come up as a topic of "unsolved mysteries"-type shows here and I had never heard of this in the States.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bist Du narrisch!!

For those of you who don't read Margaret Marks' excellent "Transblawg" from which I have gotten some excellent pointers, swing on by for a tale of library books, the Fall of the Wall and a story that most would only believe if the protagonists are Germans.

There was an episode of Tatort on last night on SWR. Der Biensle und schäbische/allemanische Fasnet - it rocked, but was I paying attention? Nooo. Uncle Sam and I had a date with Forms 2555 (x2) and W7 and 1040 and schedules A and B (lions and tigers and bears, oh my!). The lovely, lovely State in which I am domiciled allows me to file as a non-resident and to use a different filing status than the federal filing status, so it appears that there is light at the end of the tunnel, after all, but I have no idea how immigrants wade through the paperwork when I find it challenging to understand exactly what has to go in box X.

Our own Fasching adventures were anything but, so I am posting a photo from our trip to Weil am Rhein last year. It was amazing and significantly less lame than endless cartloads of Gardetänzerinnen who don't dance and throw candy to Schlagermusik.

Yes, yes, they are talented young athletes, but I want a spectacle if you are going to expect me to stand on the street and try to avoid loosing an eye as hard candy sails through the air. Give me Guggenmusik any old day. And chocolate.

Monday, February 19, 2007

You can try as hard as you want. . .

but no one is going to convince me that this was a Good Idea. I am well aware that it is perfectly acceptable German, but in this day and age where nearly everyone under 30 speaks English, you would think one would avoid names like this.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

What we are watching

or what I am watching. "Muxmäuschenstill" or "werry, werry quiet" - the tale of a modern-day vigilante in Berlin who pursues his law and rule-breaking citizens, imposing his own penalties. I am sure it's all going to end tragically; we've already seen one of his escapades result in the death of a grafitti "artist".

Herr Quixote has already found his Dulcinea, but she is young and beautiful, and her lack of interest isn't going to lead anywhere good.

We are trying to get life organized before everything changes. We've cleaned a bit and D. did our German taxes. I still have to figure out what our State taxes look like before I can do our US taxes. It's nice to have a deadline for a lot of the smaller organizational items that had remained. The pressure allows me to make decisions - e.g. pick out presents for the neices and stick with the decision rather than continuing to search in the hope of finding something better later.

I went to my first yoga class last week. It was pretty low-key, but my muscles made me aware of their presence the next day.

All in all, not much to report.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

See Fairness, in the Spirit of

Just so everyone is aware, I make really embarrassing mistakes in German. "Oskar the Geschlechtsteil" is nothing compared to some of my doozies.

E.g. Recent conversation with my German while lolling around.

AOM: Honey, what's the difference between "decken" and "bedecken"?
DOM: Well, "dich 'dekcen' lassen" is probably what I want you to want and "dich 'bedecken' lassen" is probably what you want.

For all of you non-experts. "Decken" is what studs do (dogs, horses, etc.). "Bedecken" / "Zudecken" is to cover something - in my case, me, with a blanket.

There are a couple of comments to which I hope to reply, please be patient.

**(Well, no one said we were great conversationalists, and nothing happened. Hope ya'll weren't too offeneded.) And it occurred to me that the piggies do make the whole thing worse than it ought to be, but they came up when I googled "blanket" and I think they are cute.

While I wasn't Sleeping

A lot has happened since Friday, namely a second interview on Monday and a job starting the beginning of March.

I should be thrilled out of my little gourd, no? But I have had two largely sleepless nights with a lot of compensatory daytime sleeping which is No Good What-so-ever.

The bad news:
  1. We will have to get a car, which will be a huge money-sucking hole. I feel as though I would be working to finance the thing. D. insists that this isn't the case, but we will see.
  2. There is a lot to learn and I have no idea if I will meet their expectations and get picked up at the end of the 6 month trial period.
  3. Repeat point 2 about 100x
  4. If I get booted at 6 months, I will have a hell of time getting some other company to hire me.
  5. It's a small company, so there is effectively no Mutterschutz down the road. I will lose my job in ca. 3 years if all goes according to plan.
  6. Given that 4. is a nearly forgone conclusion, can we really move any further forward towards buying an apartment or home?
  7. If we buy, will we buy Money-Pit like structure that will drag us to financial ruin?
  8. If we don't buy, will we be able to support ourselves in our dottage based on our current savings?
Pretty much every chain of night time thought ends with us under a bridge eating dogfood. I don't seem to recall having this level of existential angst in the States.

The good news:
  1. The position as defined is a mix of two of my areas of interest, the one I applied for there and another one that interests me. (I didn't directly address it in my application there because it's in another department.)
  2. Whatever I learn will qualify me further for the next job.
  3. Even if I come out making nothing in the end, the German social security system doesn't see it that way and this is very good, indeed.
  4. This is step 1 to a career here, and that would make me slightly less vulnerable should anything, God forbid, happen to D.
  5. They are letting me take my planned trip to visit my family and friends before Easter.

Friday, February 09, 2007

This is what I get for making fun of my husband.

Thanks to those who offered advice before my trip to the Frauenartzt. It was different than I expected (got poked somewhere I wasn't expecting). The problem with having a German sig. ot. is that you can't just say that and leave it at that, because he has no idea what you are talking about. One has to go into painful detail. But we, as native speakers can leave it there, no? Apparently Harbor tours aren't just for men. ugggh. Also - you can get the hpv vaccine in Germany even if you are considerably older than 20. I don't think you can in the States.

There was no seperate top and bottom treatment, but I came prepped. No gowns, no problem. Button-down blouse and long skirt. I think she was a bit miffed, but tough bagels, sweetie. She, an article-dropping Eastern European, also had the nerve to criticize my accent, which isn't perfect, but is far from painful. I also don't buy into anyone whose ear isn't good enough to fix their own speech being able to distinguish among different native English speakers whose accents aren't glaring. All she really means is that I don't sound like the ice-hockey coaches on tv. So her German is better than Vladimir Putin's. . . and?

I think what she did is the equivalent of calling a darker complected person articulate. Which seems to be a hot topic at home at the moment. I've done it - also done it with Sylvester Stalone, though, and last I check he was white under all that self-tanner. It does, convey surprise, but when I use the word with anyone, I also mean that the people speaking expressed themselves so well that I consider their skill-level enviable. (Literally - Wow, I wish I could do that.) When one considers what African Americans your average suburb-dweller hears, they are rappers and athletes, or actors reading text (for which they aren't responsible and could very well have been dumbed down - see Crash) - we are programmed to be surprised when someone from that community speaks well because educated successful Blacks so rarely get the spotlight. That, in my eyes, is the underlying problem - not that someone (a not particularly articulate someone - heh) was trying to pay Senator Obama a compliment.

** correction - Apparently, Vladimir Putin speaks excellent German. I will have to find another example.

Monday, February 05, 2007

My so-called post-Turkey life

Well Friday night was like running into a brick wall. Three rejection emails, one after another. These were all initiative-applications, mind you, but I allowed myself to become disheartened. I have yet to hear word one from any app I have sent in response to an advertised opening. Despite all that we got through "Thanksgiving" for 13 on Saturday. 1.5x the side-dish recipes would have done it (instead of 2x) but we have lived and learned, and the people who were secretly whining that they wanted to bring spaghetti out of concern they might not like anything served seemed to be content with what we served. (Am I forgiven for being a wee bit insulted, still. How can we Americans all be so fat if the food isn't edible. Please! Pick one stereotype and stick to it.) Practically nothing remained of our 4 kilo friend. Mr. Gobbles, we barely knew ya.

I received an email on Saturday from a temp agency, which had advertised looking for professionals in my field. Evil, evil temp agencies. We'll see if they have any use for me and how much they would be willing to pay me. Yes, we know that the answer is - not very much - but my education level should put me into the highest tarif-klasse, but they could try to wiggle. Let's see if they have a job in mind first.

Ran into a friend that I hadn't seen in months at church on Sunday and I stayed up til 4 chatting with my sister (and a friend now in Peru) and watching the Super Bowl (Thank you ORF!) and drinking a white russian or two (yes, two). A pleasant day of winding down.

So a new week has begun and I have a personal victory item to report. I scheduled an appointment with the Frauenartzt. I may already have my nerves in a bunch for nothing. The appointment is a mere two days from now and I am concerned that they may have somehow confused me with a patient with private insurance. We will see. (Often publicly insured patients have to wait longer for appointments.)

And to keep it lively . . .
Think yóur expat experience is bad?? This will disabuse you of that notion right quick.