Plan B or…

April 20, 2010

After my meeting last week with the head of the Renewable Energy Management program, it became even more clear to me that I need to come to grips with the fact that I could very well not be accepted to the program.  He said they expect more than 200 applications for 40 positions.  That’s a 20% approval rate or lower.  That’s not good.  I have to accept that I might not get in.  I’ve been thinking and wanting this for the past 6 months but it might not happen.  Accept that.

Ok, so I accept it.  I’m still an optimist and hoping for the best. But what if/when I don’t get in?  What does that mean for me?

I’ll be 36 next month.  So what? Or is that a big deal?  No, not to me.  I love my life.  I love that I’m in the hammock right now, I earn enough money to live my life and travel like a crazy SOB.  I’ve been doing that more or less the past 6+ years.  Am I ready for a change?  I don’t know.  I know that doing this master’s program would be a shock to my lifestyle but that’s okay because I’ve been preparing for it.  What if I don’t get in?  What’s my Plan B?

I guess I have more than a Plan B.  Plan B as it looks now is the status quo.  That type of thing could freak a lot of people out but I would love to think of my life staying just as it is for another 5 years, with barely any changes in it at all.  I have so many opportunities to be artistic, live like I’m 25 (hell more like 21 which is fantastic), travel more than anyone I know and yet enjoy my work.  I like English teaching.  Ok, not all of my jobs, in fact of the 8 or so jobs I have right now, I like half of them.  And the ones I don’t like are just simply work.  It’s painless, though, just my soul dying a little bit more than usual while the others are as invigorating as any work I’ve ever had.  I wouldn’t mind doing those jobs for years to come, namely at the university. It’s a challenge but so much fun.

So Plan B is the status quo.  Teaching English, travelling, doing photo exhibitions, writing books, playing music, going out, doing my thang.

What about Plan C?  It was proposed to me last weekend that translation could be something for me.  It allows me some freedom of location, although I already live in paradise so that’s not necessarily important.  However, it could get me to reduce some of my teaching work and let me do half translation and half english teaching.  Another good thing about that is that income from translation is not subject to 20% tax to the German Social Security so that is certainly a good thing.  I’ve got to learn more about the German language but maybe it’s a possibility.

Plan D?  Plan D is waiting for one year to apply for the REM program again, doing more internships to improve my chances and also to keep in close contact with the head of the program so he knows my intention is serious and he’s going to have to let me in the next year.  Or he won’t.

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Pink furry devil monster costume

February 6, 2010

So I just got back from what is arguably the best jog I’ve ever had.  It was about 50 minutes in 40 degree weather, sunny, along the river which was full of people going to the soccer game which is going to start in about 45 minutes.  There were many fans with the red scarves (SC Freiburg, my team) and also quite a few with blue scarves (Schalke 04) walking along the river, or riding their bikes, or selling tickets, what have you.

Some awesome things I noticed:

*Tailgating in Germany before a soccer game means drinking next to your bicycle where a 6 pack of beer is in the basket for two guys.

*I high-fived a guy who was dressed the same as about 10 other dudes, all in pink furry devil monster costumes with sunglasses and drinking beer.  I was so taken with them that I put my ipod in the other hand and put my left hand up about 10 meters away so they had a couple of seconds to noticed, that was an awesome high five!  I guess fastnacht/Carnivale is coming and that’s why they were dressed that way.

*While jogging, it felt like I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in.  I used to go jogging 3-4 times a week 10 years ago when I was 25 and they were good 35 minute jogs, the same length I normally do here but the last two times I’ve jogged a bit further.  That’s partially from having gone to the gym so much lately, I seem to have more power and stamina while exercising.  So I normally jog about 55% of my maximum speed, a nice pace that can keep me going for awhile and most of the jog I had today was in the 70% range  but with 55% of the effort.  I would just decide to speed up a bit and boom, I did.  That felt good.

*I’m going to a play in Portuguese tonight, then to a friend’s going away party because she is going to Spain for half a year on a student exchange.

*Tomorrow is the mofo Super Bowl but it starts here in Germany around midnight!


Pope-you-lay-shun

January 31, 2010

Thanks to Howard Stern, I now know that the last pope, Jan Pawel II, used to flagellate himself with a whip or something, even when he was on vacation!  He slept on the floor.  That’s how he got closer to Christ.  I’m not ready to go that far.

A ex-pat friend shocked us on friday at the pub when he said he and his girlfriend were thinking of adopting a kid from Haiti.  Then this morning I saw in the news that a group of Americans were arrested with 33 Haitian children at the border with the Dominican Republic.  Just another reminder of what it’s like being an Expat.

So, what does my week look like? Well…

Monday: going to take my newest novel to the copy shop, then take two trains for about a half hour, getting picked up by a stranger and driven about 5 minutes to that company that makes the machines that metallize solar cells.  I’ll be there 3-5 hours and there sort of shadow a couple of people and see what they’re doing.  Then take a bus and train back to Freiburg, go to the gym, then have a couple of hours to kill before going to play some latin music with a 6-piece jazz band, my first band jam practice in 5 years.

Tuesday: working 8-1:30 at three different places all within 1 km of each other, all in the old town, then going home to take care of some business, read about cogeneration, then go to the gym around 4pm, then a private lesson until 8pm.

This all culminates in going to a play in Portuguese on Saturday night because some people from the wedding i went to last week are in the play.  They said German people go and there is an explanation of the play in German beforehand, I was like, well okay…


Happy New Year!

January 1, 2010

Wow, what a night!  I was at a party until 4.15am, took a tram home and stopped off my local bar for one more, bought some strangers a round (4 people), bought another beer and took it home.  The full, open beer is on my desk now.  2010 has started with a bang!

My plan for the second day of the year:

*take down and change a lot of the photos in the apartment

*clean my room, general organizing

*exercise

*Do some reading of renewable energy

*edit Newropean

Even if I spend a half hour doing each one tomorrow, that will be good.  And that’s what this year is about: Do a little bit of many things everyday so I can push kick many rocks down the road.  I got big plans this year, want to publish a new novel, want to go back to school, and in general clean and lean my life a bit, whether that means fewer possessionss or fewer pounds or both but my life here has become a bit bloated and I want to go back to my roots, go hiking more often, improve my German and become a better person. I’m not sur exactly how to go about that but I think with a little effort a path will be illuminated for me.


a facebook response to a wingnut

December 2, 2009

1)I did not know it was a Navy SEAL. However, how do we know the guy was a terrorist? Seriously? Was he convicted in a court of law? If we have eye witness accounts of him throwing a grenade or laying an IED on a truck route or something, we have evidence and we put them on trial. That’s how our system of justice works, period. I understand that our soldiers are in harm’s way and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. They have the courage to do something I don’t have the courage to do. I hope they come home safely as soon as possible.

2)That article you sent doesn’t actually prove that torture works. In fact, we know it doesn’t because people will tell you whatever you want them to say when you torture them. Sleep deprivation and waterboarding are illegal. Either we are a nation of laws or we aren’t. Using all means necessary, as you say, means we are not a nation of laws. Waterboarding has been considered torture since the Spanish Inquisition. Please understand, the United States put Japanese soldiers to death and imprisoned them for waterboarding our soldiers. Why are we allowed to do it now? I believe in the Geneva Conventions, no matter how inconvenient. It has been an international system of justice for 60 years, and for us to forego that means that we are not the country we were. I refuse to let terrorism change our nation that way. Yes, they are bastards and cocksucking pieces of shit who should put on trial when caught and executed as our system of justice allows. Torturing them allows people like Bin Laden to recruit more terrorists. And what about torturing an innocent person? What if the person who got the fat lip, I know, bad example, was really a farmer who lived near the person the SEALS were looking for. Do they have the right to beat him up to get information out of him? What does that teach them about American values?

3)With regards to our forefathers not having Boeing 747s in their lives to deal with all and all that jazz, that is what made them so genius. They made the Constitution flexible to change over time. It can be amended to deal with today’s world and it has been amended many times. We have 26 amendments now. They amended the 4th amendment to include the FISA court to listen in on phone calls. Why? Because they understood that it was important to be able to listen in on possible bad guys BUT they still need to get a warrant to do that. To get that warrant, you need probable cause. No probable cause, no warrant. Bush broke that thousands if not millions of times and there are penalties for that. 5 years for each instance.

Now you say “War on Terror” and blah blah blah but we never officially declared war on any of those nations. Only Congress can do that. Unfortunately Congress were spineless following 9/11 and let Bush do whatever he wanted, until he wanted to do immigration reform but that’s another story. And we have imprisoned people for YEARS and given them no trial. I believe it is the 6th amendment that gives EVERYONE, not just Americans, the right to a speedy trial. Holding someone in a detention cell, whether in Cuba, off the coast of South Carolina, or Romania, Lithuania or Afghanistan is illegal if they do not get due process. That has been the foundation of Western Law for almost 800 years and I don’t want to revert back to the 1200s to deal with people who live like it’s the 1200s. We capture someone. We talk to him, offer him cigarettes, hope to get information out of him but without evidence, sorry, we have to let them go after a short amount of time. That’s how our justice system works.

One big difference between us, I think, is that I this is a law enforcement matter and not a military matter. I don’t think that having 250,000 troops and just as many mercernaries (I realize they don’t all have guns but) in the Middle East is the way to improve our national security. Why not have a soldier standing at each park as security if you’re so concerned? Dude, don’t let the terrorists win. If you are afraid to take your child to the park, they win. If you think you won’t go to New York because Khalid Sheik Mohammed is going to be on trial there, the terrorists win. They want you to change your life, to step on our system of laws and be bad guys, just like they are.

4)Healthcare: I don’t go to the doctor’s in the States anymore, really, I live in Germany and have 6.5 years but spend a couple of months a year in America every single year but I have been following the health care debate closer than probably 98% of the people in the United States. I have not heard about these questions being asked but personally,I think we need to know about every single person that owns a gun. Hell, Christianists in Congress today want to get involved in who can have abortions and these are the same people who want LESS government involvement. It makes no sense. Unfortunately, the majority of democrats have negotiated the farm away with the Blue Dogs and 1-3 Republicans to get the health care bill to where it is. I’m of the opinion that wanting to help people get health care is a good thing and it’s something Jesus would have wanted probably. Jesus probably would have been a socialist, even.

5)I am for the troops but we also have laws and rules. We are not monsters, that’s what separates us from those terrorist bastards but we better make damn sure we know who is a terrorist before busting their lip or we are just monsters too. By the way, the President’s biggest job is not to secure our nation but to defend the Constitution. That’s pretty explicit.

6)Funny you bring up France. They have what is considered the best health care in the world. Anyway, the fact we can disagree so vehemently is one of the great things about America. I also think that if we could get through all the filters to the real information, you and I would agree on probably 66% of most major issues.


My last full day in Europe for 61 days

July 25, 2009

is spent hungover.  What a way to go out!

I haven’t been blogging much lately, partly because it’s summer and I am outside more often and also with the semester ending always being chaotic, and with the facebook status updates making it almost too easy to make a “blog postlette”, I haven’t really been motivatd too much.

I did get a new job for the fall, a company in Muellheim.  Two classes back-to-back on Wednesday afternoons are worth more than 500 euros/month.  That will be a huge cushion I need, especially because I want to be able to try and save some more money for next year.  I was able to save 2500 euros this year and I want to do the same or maybe even 5000 next year but that will be tough.  Then again, I don’t plan on spending as much travelling next year as I have the last years.  In fact, I’m probably going to try and go out of my way to NOT travel as much as I have been the past 5 years.  Franziska will be working on her masters thesis  and studying for big exams through November of 2010.  I want to start something in October that will help me better myself as a human being, whether it be:

  • taking a German class or a ceramics class or a Swedish class
  • studying to pass the German “language exam” as proof my German is good for “any” level
  • do a masters program via a “long distance university” online
  • do a bachelor’s program here in Freiburg.  I could do that and work at the same time
  • finish writing my novel The Newropean and look into publishing it
  • get my photos printed onto canvas and have a professional exhibition
  • work more

These are all possibilities and there are even more out there I’m sure but this is a good start.  Franziska will be working hard and I feel like I should be doing something productive to improve my and by extension, our lives.

But for the meantime, I’m on my way to California tomorrow, a direct flight from Frankfurt to LAX, arriving at 5.20pm, plenty early that we should be able to hit Chipotle on the way home!


What I love about living in Europe, pt. 3542

July 17, 2009

Franziska and I are meeting some friends at 6pm, a loose mix of folks, most of whom know someone else there but not everyone knowing everyone.  We are getting some half-price cocktails at Maria Cafe and then going to see some Iranian music at 7.30pm in a nice old building.  That will last less than an hour and then we are going to another different old building for some Franz Joseph Haydn at 9pm.  He’s up there with Mozart and Beethoven apparently.  After that, if we’re able to get the tickets will be some Renaissance and Middle Ages music at 10.30pm.

This is called Fest der Innenhoefe which means “Festival of Courtyards”.  Last year Dr. D and I saw the last few minutes of one concert in a small church in one of my favorite squares in Freiburg, a tiny little thing with a pricey italian place subdued on one side, a large, dark tree overhanging almost the whole thing and two groups of two benches on the other 2 of the 4 sides.  Beautiful acoustics in a centuries-old church, that much I can assure you.

Last weekend we took the train 20 minutes north to Waldkirch, a town of about 20,000 with the ruins of an 800-year old castle overlooking the charming little town, the luxuriousness of the Black Forest lazing all around the horizon.  It turned out there was a Middle Ages Festival in the town that day and we went in (it cost 5 euros) and about 50 percent of the people were dressed up in the middle ages, complete with music and horns and the most awesome tug-o-war of all time: 4 groups of 4 kids pulling at 90 degree angles of each other trying to pull some wooden thing off a table in the middle.  Good stuff.

Here comes the band!

Here comes the band!

I had some honey beer which actually wasn’t very good but still, it was part of the moment.

We’re planning on going to one of the best circus in Europe in the next few days and I’m sure a beer garden or two will sneak in there….