Running with Autumn Storms

This is not a weather blog, although it should be because Hurricane Xavier is still raging outside. In the Philippines, most typhoons are named after women, but here in Europe the storms have been given male names for some reason, and this one certainly has a temper. North and Northeast of Germany have bin hit pretty bad, and here in Berlin, that meant the grounding of flights, cancellation of many trains, and even local public transportation came to a standstill. A taxi driver summarised Berlin beautifully for me the other day: Berliner Wetter ist wie ein Kinder Überraschung, man weis nie was kommt! (Berlin weather is like the Kinder Surprise, you never know what you’re going to get) – and he was absolutely right. Someone else described it as the ability to experience all four seasons in one day. Either way you look at it, the cat and I are miserable. We miss our heat and sunshine (this is my first Autumn in 11 years and the cat’s first), and watch the hail crash agains our windows together in utter horror.

Night and Storm ©MTHerzog 

The same taxi driver who commented about the weather took me to the Finanzamt (Tax Office) the other day, and when I first got in the car and told him where I wanted to go he exclaimed Finanzamt? Oh, böse, böse Ort. Es tut mir sooooo leid. (Tax Office? Oh, evil, evil place, I am soooo sorry.) Then, before I got off, he handed me three chocolates and smiled sympathetically: Kommen Sie lebendig wieder raus (Come out alive). I have learned so much legal, insurance-related and financial terms in the last two weeks than in all my years of speaking German put together. The concept that I struggle with now are mind-boggling but also fundamental to my existence here, so there is no running away from it. But I learn something new with every darn form I have to fill out, especially regarding taxation as a freelancer!

Now that I have one foot in the door to recovery, work is beginning to trickle in as well, which is the most encouraging thing that could happen to me after six months of rejections. I feel as though I am a fresh graduate of Hard Knocks University with a PhD (read Pile high of Dung) in Rejectionism and Discrimination. At the same time, there are days where I feel more like a veteran of the Application Wars after the short time I have been living in Germany. First there was the long and winding path to search for a roof over my head. That undeniably prepared me well for the even longer path of job-hunting, which turned out to be an even more humiliating experience full of stumbling blocks that made me question my decision to move back to Germany.

Like in writing and publication, if you think out of the box and don’t allow yourself to be bullied by the bigger players, then you stand a chance of making a dent in the market and surviving. The same applies to employment. I can’t afford to sit around idly and wait for the golden job to fall into my lap. It was high time to pull out the big guns, dig deep into my soul for more courage reserves, and walk down the Self-Employment corridor. This won’t be the first time that Plan B becomes Plan A, and Plan F suddenly gets promoted to Plan B. That is the frog’s secret to survival – remain flexible and unafraid of the risks. If you fall off the lily pad, then swim along in the water until you figure out where you want to go next.

My lawyer thinks I am too brave for my own good, and she may have a point, but for now, courage is all I have and will have to run with it.

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