Thursday, June 28, 2007

The University

If I won the lottery, I would still work at the University. That is serious. I am from a part of the world that knows all about FU money. At what point do you have enough money that you can quit your job and symbolically say Fuck You to anyone in your life who hassles you for no reason. They got nothing to do with you anymore. It's a wispy dream TV show editors talk about over cups of coffee in between cutting 3 minutes segments. How much you need? My number is probably already on this blog but still, I would work at the University. Why?

*I have 3 classes on Thursdays, 10:15-11:45, 12:15-1:45, 2:15-3:45, something that is a dream for an English teacher, (except I wish the breaks were shorter), it's in the middle of town.

*I have 12, 21, and 23 students in the 3 classes, not a bad size for a university group.

*The students are 20-25 years old, well-travelled, open-minded with the innocence of not having gotten up at 7am in the morning for a year straight.

*Very interesting topics are discussed openly. Today's topics were: 9/11 conspiracies (students' idea), Media, Surveillance, and Education as 3 20-minute presentations together, and in the last group we read a blog entry from www.dailykos.com from Bruce Fein, Reagan's deputy attorney general, making a clear case for the immediate impeachment of Dick Cheney.

*We had a make-up class in this afternoon because there were two holidays onThursday in May. We watched one episode of My Name is Earl and then we watched Thank You for Smoking.

*I earned enough money today to pay for my whole month's basic expenses.

*I often see students around town and invariably we are both Saturday nighting, maybe even have a shot together.

Are those enough reasons?

-- listening to Howard Stern internet radio.

--trying to read my news blogs for today's info

--wanted to go running at 7pm but was so happy to be home after a long day and wanted to chill a bit.

--going down to the market 30 seconds away to buy some dinner before watching a German style "Popstars" contest show.

--have to be out the door by 8.40am tomorrow.

--gotta work Saturday 11am-2pm

--saw 3 examples of my t-shirts for the fashion show which is in two weeks

--i am yawning.

Flashback: One Year ago or so... Germany v. Sweden


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Would you get a colonic on a first date?

Welcome to MTV's "Next". Some dumb bitch had her date get a colonic and then they went to have tea. He had the chance to have 118 dollars or go on a second date with the girl. He took the money.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Another new job

That's how easy it is, sometimes...I am teaching one class at a language school of the University and they asked me to teach a two-day-a-weeker, not my favorite but no problem. It also means working until 7:30pm on Thursdays but that's okay, it keeps me out of trouble.

I'm pooped, having started my day at 6.38am and now it's 10.57pm. We went to dinner for our roommate's birthday and now just had some homemade tiramasu by Assiyeah and Caro, yummy!

Tomorrow's another long day, 8am to 12:30pm and then 6-9pm. I know that break in the middle is nice but really I get home at 1pm and have to leave at 5pm so that already eats into it. If the weather is all right, I might go for a jog then but we'll see. I have to clean up my desk and prepare some more stuff for the exhibition. I'm hoping to hear from a place in New York about doing an exhibition there in August, in fact, I think I'll call them now...

Jason

Monday, June 25, 2007

Gregg quit!

A friend of mine resigned from one of his jobs for the next semester. I am so jealous! I'm so stupid, I wanted to quit this job for awhile but have just been sort of floating by. I will teach one, at most two more semesters and then I'll be done with it too. I have said for awhile now, more than a year, that my soul dies slowly and surely every moment I'm there. I'm happy that Gregg's time on the beach in Turkey helped me clarify his objectives but I think also for me there are a couple of important factors:

1)I might have to pay back a lot of money to German Social Security so I need the money.
2)Studentenwerk, one of my jobs, might not happen again next semester
3)I quit the VHS- Emmendingen already for next semester
4)I don't know if my new company work at Ecomal will happen next semester

Those are some big factors. I could live with far less money but it's really nice having extra each month so when I "waste" 100euros last weekend, it's not the end of the world, ya know?

We'll see what happens. I hate teaching there, it's my least favorite job but as a self-employed traveloholic...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

An email to some student

Some 17-year old sent an email to about 30 English teachers complaining about points taken off of a test he had taken. He could understand how these were points and his feathers were up in a huff. I responded with a little of my breakdown in the sentences in question and then he wrote back wanting specific citations for why this was the way it was. Here was my response to him (in English of course, even though he's complaining in German about how good his English grade is):

How much does all of this change your grade? Life is too short sometimes, ya know? I'm sure you could do your own research if you want to know the answer to that. You want specific reasons for nuances of language and I don't have the time to find an explanation that will satisfy you. I could see why you thought you should have gotten more points but I also agree with some of the points taken off. Das ist halt so, verstesh?


And learning something by heart (auswendig) doesn't apply knowledge, only memory. I should take off more points for that! :)

Enjoy the weather

Scottish drinking song I learned friday night

I want my hole
I want my hole
I want my holidays

To see the cunt
To see the cunt
To see the country

Fuck you
Fuck you
For curiosity

I want my hole
I want my hole
I want my holidays.

It's better when you're drinking and there is a slight sway to you on the bar stool.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We have a new branch of government!

Dick Cheney is his own branch of government now. I love learning new things about the US Government. He has avoided oversight of classified materials the past 4 years and has been using the argument that he is "not an entity of the executive branch". That's interesting.

He apparently used executive privilege to hide from the American people which energy executives he met with in 2001 to form the president's energy policy. Now we see he's not in the executive branch. I guess he'll be telling us that information soon.

It feels like a joke because life is so good here in Germany but how can Dick Cheney wake up each morning and think that he is doing what's best for the American people? I'm starting to be convinced that he is a psychopath. He probably started the job as a sociopath but especially since Sept 11, he has been at the forefront of advocating violence as a way of resolving our problems. Hell, he shot a buddy in the face early last year.

I hope I get to see the shit hit the fan. These old fat white guys may be running a statue of liberty play but they forget that we all have the internet now and can keep a much better eye on the ball than we could before. It's just a matter now if we have enough guys on the D-line...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Chris Cannon

Another dude I would have never known about.

He's a Congressman from Utah and he's a jackass. He's a partisan hack, only using the talking points (Clinton did it, pleasure of president, accusations have yet to...).

In the Goodling testimony last month, the dude started quoting an article about Murtha and his outburst on the floor.

Thanks, CSPAN

Paul McNulty

You think I ever gave a rat's ass who that guy is? Not until January, when I first heard about the US Attorneys being fired en masse in attempts to what:

1)prevent investigation of Republicans
2)bring fraudulent voter fraud cases against Democrats
3)cover up fraudulent Republican voter fraud
4)bring fraudulent cases against Democratic presidential candidates for the 2008 election
5)???

Can you believe some people think that nothing improper has been committed? Who put the names on the list? Why? If that can't be answered, we have a breakdown of justice. Our justice department has been compromised. We are no longer a first world country.

I doubt ---

Some women protesters have just been removed from the hearing room. They are from Code Pink.

I doubt that McNulty is going to drop any bombshells but how's he going to answer the people who said he didn't tell the truth? He's going to disagree and not know about other people. And there was a paper that cut him out of the loop. He's not part of the problem in my opinion but maybe he'll say something about someone else. The White House is involved. The fact that millions are emails are missing, some are not being turned over, the president is claiming executive privilege what two of his aids are writing back and forth, it stinks. I just don't think it's from his mouth. Meirs, Rove, Taylor, Sampson, Goodling, Gonzales. The first 3 are from the White House...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

hot and humid

yesterday was a 3-shirt day. Today was only two but still, man I'm exhausted, going to bed at 1:10am and getting up at 7am and being woken up by a thunderstorm at 3:30am and again just before 6. Insane...But I did my job, made it to all my classes, I picked up some of the photos and they fucked 'em up, making some glossy when I wanted matte and having some dirt or something on some of the enlargements so I had to return them. Some of the photos are for the exhibition at my folks' and the one in New York City I'm working on.

Listening to Howard Stern goofing on Hillary Clinton's new campaign song...life is good.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

spontaneity

There's a band playing in the bar downstairs from me. They're called Modern Earl and they're from Tennessee. I just bought the cd and they put me on the list. I gotta work at 8am. It should be interesting...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Naked chick at fashion show at 3am


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Jogging

Well, I've avoided it as much as possible and now it's time to put on the jogging shorts and jog next to the small river here in town for about 35 minutes. I hate every second of it but if I want to drink those beers tonight, you gotta do something to counteract it, ya know?

I bought approximately 7 people drinks last night at my local bar, Walfisch. The work week was over, I was happy about it and was in a generous mood because I had just gotten paid a couple of days earlier. It's dangerous when Jaegermeister is a euro/shot!

Going to a big fashion show tonight, something I've never done but with 20 up and coming designers and some djs. I've been invited, i.e., VIP-listed, because I'm a teacher at one of the schools where the organizers study. I'm looking forward to it and also to pass out some fliers for my photo exhibition and fashion show which is coming up in a couple of months.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Name at least one signer on the Declaration of Independence

That's the question on the Howard Stern show to some uninformed attractive young woman and while they pause the tape where her answer is recorded, they are betting on whether she will know it or not. It makes 3-4 minutes of fantastic talk while they try and figure it out. They are betting that she will or no, will not know. She can do it. Never John Adams. She might say Benjamin Franklin. She's not saying that one. Is she that out of it? Yeah, I guess. I don't want to lose. I'm not gonna bet this time. I'm going to go out on a limb, now robin bet both howard and artie, and she said....

Abraham Lincoln.

That made my day. There's no reason to talk about the rest of the stuff, except...











1)My last class of the day was in a beer garden on a small lake with two students.
2)I had to tell approxmately 45 students in 3 uni classes today that I may or may not be allowed to work until the end of the semester. I would work for free the rest of the semester so everyone can get their official grades for the class. Wait, I think I should write my boss.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

power nap of 12 minutes

My day is 3/5 over. I have to leave in 90 minutes, take a train for 18 minutes and teach two Business English classes which are 90 minutes each, wait 14 minutes and take a 20 minute train back to Freiburg, wait 6 minutes for the tram and will hopefully be home, walking up the steps to my apartment at 9.55pm.

I am sick of working nights. I have done it for nearly 4 years Tuesdays and Wednesdays and it just got old. I quit my Tuesday night class for this semester and it was a genius stroke. First, I was happy to have Tuesday evenings free and then I ended up taking a new class on Tuesday nights that is:

1)paid 30euros/hour instead of 17.50euros/hour, meaning that in 90 minutes, I earn 60 euros and with the old job I would earn 70euros. I earn 10euros less but I also work 90 minutes less.

2)It's much closer to home. Class used to end at 9pm and I would get home by 9:25pm. Now it ends at 7.30 and if I ride my bike I am literally walking up the steps at 7.36pm. Getting home at 7.40pm is immeasurably better than getting home at 9.25pm, ESPECIALLY when I have to work at 8am on Wednesdays.

3)Is through the university instead of the local night school. All of the students are ...students. There are 14 students in the class (only about 9-11 come every week) but they are from so many countries, I have to list them: Romania, Bulgaria, Spain, Burundi, Russia, Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, Germany, Peru and a couple of others. They speak about the same English as the students at the other classes but it's more enjoyable.

I have quit my Wednesday night classes for next semester. That is huge. I am voluntarily giving up 1000euros/semester to not have to work 6-9pm in a town 15-20 minutes by train. I might be able to get another class in the vaccuum but I don't care. Right now my Wednesdays are from 8am to 12:30pm and then 6-9pm. It's nice to have the pause but I would MUCH rather get my work done and then get back to my life. I should have graded some tests this afternoon but I was so exhausted and I had no desire. I have 6 of the 66 tests done so far. I need to do about 2-3/day until July 3rd. There's a good chance that on Saturday I will spend a majority of the day (4-5 hours) and try and get 20+ done.

More of my work is uncertain. Remember, I only need about 500euros/month to live here. Naturally I need more for travel, taxes and possibly German Social Security but I could live with it if I had more free time. I have my writing projects, my photography projects and I would like to branch into more things, like promoting a battle of the bands or even a music showcase in the Fall.

I am approximately 60% done with my work week. That's good. Thursday has the return of my University classes and Friday going down to the BA in Loerrach for some business English. Saturday night is a big fashion show with 25 designers and I got a free invitation (normally 12euro) from the students who are in charge of it. Sunday will be more grading, yeah!

The Cross Section South America multimedia event is one month and one day away. There's still quite a bit to do and it's not going to be perfect but it's going to be a huge night. My 3rd annual exhibition here in Freiburg, some fashion, music, a vibe, an evening, a moment that people of different backgrounds will come together and try and have a great time. I'm excited for it but there's still a bit to do before then!

It's 3.42pm. I have 78 minutes before I have to leave again. Cheers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Exhausted

It's raining hard, I have a shitload of tests to grade, I have to go back to work in 20 minutes, I'm exhausted and really just want to read some of my book and do nothing. Why can't I just sit here and do nothing? The next 7 weeks are going to be busy as hell...oy vey!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

8 hours

I think I was at Augustiner Platz almost 8 hours last night. It was a wild night and I'm feeling it today. It's hot and I have been completely unproductive and it feels great. I did organize my negatives, got some together for the exhibitions I plan to have in the States in August. I wanted to grade some tests but there's no way I'm in the right fram of mind to do it. I have 67 of them to grade and it's going to take awhile, thank god I have a month but seriously, like next weekend I'll have to spend all day Saturday or Sunday reading 15-20 on one day if I can. I don't want to but that's work, right?

cheers

Friday, June 08, 2007

You can't trust men from Ghana

Or so says one of the girls helping me with my photo exhibition, it was classic! It's somehow ingrained in them to cheat and to declare their professional life as something like "I'm doing business." without ever clarifying. I'm sure we got those dudes in America too, right?

George Bush is in this country right now. It's hard to believe but it's something that is so important to so many and so unimportant to even those who say they care. I'm probably pretty firmly set in the second category.

Sitting at home last night at 10.30pm, not wanting to stay home the whole night, I rode my bike the 5-6 minutes into town, stopping at the gas station on the way and buying two large bottles of beer. I sat at the Augustiner Square on the steps by myself for maybe 20 minutes or so and then a dude who is helping me with the exhibition (there are about 7 people helping total, fyi) came by with a student of mine, they had a beer and then, because of their dire need of cigarettes, they befriended the dude who had been sitting next to me and up one or two steps probably the whole time I had been there. He was alone too. It turns out that he is an art student in Freiburg, from Stuttgart and might make a sculpture representing South America for the event. He then started telling us a story about his round the world trip to learn how to surf and was in Brazil, Mexico, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia and then to Bali where he got arrested for having a little bit of hash and was bribed by the police to pay 3000US but then he called home and his dad got the german FBI to contact the Indonesian official. The German guy was stationed in Bangkok was responsible that part of the world or something. The real Indoesian police came and arressted the 3 guys who had been bribing them but then they were taken to real jail and were deprived of sleep while the policemen would occasionally go into the next room and beat some of the prisoners in the drunktank they had. The "real" Indonesian police wanted 6000US to make this all go away. He wanted a lawyer. The embassy gave him a list of lawyers and he asked which was the best. The woman said she wasn't allowed to state preferences while pointing at a specific name on the list. The dude calls the number, the lawyer comes and hugs the Bali police chief, they go out for drinks and food and come back with the number 5000US. It was somehow paid but the last two months of his round the world trip was cut off because he'd run out of funds.

There was also a girl on the steps who celebrated her birthday and we sang happy birthday for her. Her friend was juggling little chocolates and was pretty good at it. I then rode my bike home and then went over to good ole Walfisch, the bar around the corner. It was 2am at that point and I ordered another beer, what may seem like many but was really my 4th of the night. There were still 18-20 people in the bar, and the dj was from Bolivia so maybe he'll dj the photo exhibition next month. I passed out some invitations as well and think that these vistaprint business cards were the best way to go to give people an invitation to the event, better than a poster on a wall by some bars, ya know?

It was just raining pretty hard, about 15 minutes ago but the humidity has passed and maybe it's finished for the day, who knows?

I have a private lesson from 11am to 2pm tomorrow, with that important German businessman. It's a tough 3 hours because there are no breaks but most of the time is taken up with talking and some grammar. He keeps me on my feet and tells me some pretty interesting stuff about his work on the board of directors for Germany's oldest private bank.

I haven't worked since Wednesday at 2pm. I was really lucky that the week after my vacation was a short one but things are going to be getting busy starting Monday. I also just got about 55 tests in the mail to grade. I'm not looking forward to that. Another dude helping me with the exhibition is printing the shirts in Berlin next weekend. I saw him today on my way home from the city and he said he had just bought plane tickets to go to Barcelona. He would have to leave for Frankfurt in 2 or 3 hours. They were last minute offer for 40euros roundtrip, probably because there were many leftovers on certain flights and he just chose a cheap one and is now going there for 5 days.

I guess that's enough for now. I'll try and make some more interesting stuff happen this weekend.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The name of this blog

I had plans for a book approximately 5 years ago. It seemed to encompass the very idea of me trying to wrap up my life in America within 6-7 months, tie up loose ends and move to another country across the Atlantic for love (and adventure and life). The book was going to include some of the steps I had to take, things I had to consider and important prerequisites it became apparent that were necessary in order to get away scot free.

Well, needless to say I succeeded. I earned a teaching certificate in Brno, Czech Republic at the cheapest place I could find in Europe and then started my new life in Freiburg, Germany on March 18, 2003. It turns out we moved all of Assiyeah's stuff in a small moving van from Berlin to Freiburg on the eve of the Iraq war. A strange time to become an "American in Europe". I got work, started travelling, got more work and started travelling more. Repeat two more times and it culminates in 2005 with 126 days of vacation. I had my first photo exhibition that year. Then last year was my highest-earning year. I had 5 exhibitions in Freiburg, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires and Tilcara, Argentina and Cusco, Peru. I just got a new job. I just came back from my 3rd vacation of the year. I have today off. Really, things could not have gone any better if I had scripted it myself.

A Humorous Guide to Leaving the Country

Starting in March 2006, exactly 3 years after having begun this amazingly fantastic life (while having a tax number), I started to have troubles with my work permit. The foreign authorities of this country have almost tried to end my permission to live here in Germany as I do. They have been slow, occasionally so bull-headed in their obtuseness that I have been dumbfounded. Those troubles continue to this day but with other government agencies and with concrete amounts of money they want. I'm still here. The experience has changed but the name of the story won't.

I can write a 150-page book in a month. I could pull it off but I would have to be disciplined. Which month would I do it? 5 pages a day. The story of me coming to germany, building my life and then being threatened from large, outside forces that make me appreciate my life just a bit more.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

8,710.11euros

We could play a fun game with what you could buy or do with 8,710.11euros but let's just keep this brief and to the point.

The German Social Security just wrote me a letter saying I have one month to pay that amount to them. One month! They see how much I have earned in the past 4 years and they act like it's an amount for 100euros or something. That is roughly 6 months' salary for me they want at one time. Thank god I have a chance to file an appeal and I will be meeting with my friend to discuss that tomorrow.

Also on the work permit front, I went to the foreign authorities to get yet another 90-day extension to live and work here. They gave me only a month extension! The last 15 months I have been going and getting 3-month extensions, something I find pretty crappy considering that I should have had a 2-year extension anyway. They said they were being generous because they didn't have to give me an extension. (Can you believe that? After all we've been through, the bitch said she's being generous after:

1)What she "offerred" me to finish up this problem wasn't possible. She said I had to make 50-60 "voluntary" payments to German social security, which would have been 80euro/month for more than 4 years but lo and behold I learn that I am obliged to pay social security. I wish someone had told me. (it probably was in some of my contracts but seriously, who reads that shit?)

2)I asked her if she thought other language teachers here in Freiburg had received permanent residence in Freiburg without having to pay social security or invest a million euro. She said she was pretty certain that there were not any. I informed her that I work with two every monday and that there are more. That set her back a moment.

3)They took nearly 3 months to write back to me with some sort of bullshit reason why I couldn't live here anymore only to say that the Social Security office should have written me letting me know that the status of my case was ongoing.)

Do I have 8,710.11euros? In Germany, no. I have it in the States but that is neither here nor there. I have my own reasons why I think I should not have to pay this amount, namely:

1)I have my own private pension scheme in the US. I've had it since before I moved to Germany. It has approximately 20,000 dollars in it, 8,000 more dollars in the account than the German Social Security would be asking for me.

2)Every month I pay in approximately 260dollars, almost the exact amount they want me to pay here each month based on my tax returns.

3)That would crush my finances here, putting me in jeopardy of actually not having enough to pay my bills.

4)Every single German person I know has told me this is a bad investment.

5)I have been in Germany for than 4 years and have never received a penny from the "State".

6)Perhaps my parents could "underwrite" me for any possible future time where I didn't have money coming in because of illness or simply unemployment. That could satisfy them that I need to be taken care of for my future.

Well, it's 3.54pm, I don't have to work for about 69 hours, I'm going jogging and then I'm going to take what little money I still have and take my girlfriend out to dinner! Jebiga!

Monday, June 04, 2007

That was round 2 of the photos

I hope you enjoy the photos from Montenegro below. It was incredible trip, I'll try and put together a larger post about it soon but the pictures should help paint a picture...

12.30am the last night


Fresh calamari dinner on the last night


That's some prom dress, eh?


Maki chillin outside his jewellry shop, a place I chilled at as well


Moonrise in Herceg Novi


The article in the newspaper about my exhibition


A flowerbed we made at Vlatko's house


a nice view in Budva


An old chair on the water, calmness...


A view of one small island from another, near Perast


St. Stefan, an old fishing village turned expensive hotel


Almost midnight at the exhibition, rain had brought the photos down below the tree


The setting up of my photo exhibition in Herceg Novi


Sunday, June 03, 2007

That was round one

It's 9pm on Sunday night, I'm home, listening to strange but cool afro/arabia/indian I got from Vlatko. It feels so good to be home, of course there is a lot to do but "jebiga" (yeppiga, meaning "fuck it" and used quite often in Montenegrin), it'll get done somehow somewhen. The only important thing this week that has to be done, besides working, is to get another damn 90 day extension to my work permit. This will be the fifth one, I think. Yeah... haha, take a look below, there are some pictures from the first few days of my trip to Montenegro. I will try and add some more tomorrow night, okay?

cheers
Jason

"They're a musical people." - party in Perast


Up on the hill overlooking Kotor


A closer view of Perast


My first evening in Kotor


A sunset from Vlatko's new house site


The view from Vlatko's, the first evening


My first glimpse of Perast, a village of 300 I would party in until 4am the next night


Vlatko and Maki in Herceg Novi, day one


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mussels

Had a big mussels dinner with about 7 people last night at the dead grandma's place where I have been staying. Fantastic food and they call wine spritzre "gemischt" here, which is funny because that is the German word for "mixed", which is exactly what it is.

I'll be home in about 24 hours and there is tons to do but I have had a great time here in Montenegro. The people are outgoing and some of their attitudes remind me of back home in California. I am looking forward again to the organization of Germany. It's interesting becuase I have become addicted to having a good control of my life via public transporation and predictability. Hell, the power goes out here once a day for an hour or two all over. There are a bunch of kids in the internet cafe playing soccer on a video game together. Shows you a distinct generation gap. It's come a long way since my Commodore 64k, eh?