23 October 2011

The Tower, Housing, Stumbling Through A Language

The Tower is a very trying Tarot card to receive in a spread.  It is about the world crumbling around you, everything falling apart so something new can occur.  Sometimes this card is necessary, but it is never an easy thing to pull.  While I have not drawn the tower in quite some time, there have been moments where I have really felt like this is what has been happening to me. 
*Something is wrong with my Paypal account. 
*It is getting very cold.
*I have no work permit and need a job.
*Immigration and all the papers I must get together and all the money I need to manifest completely overwhelm me.
*I need to find a place to live by November 1st.
*I don't speak the language here and it is hard to learn because all my friends speak good English.

It's a lot.  But deep breaths.  Things are beginning to look up.
When it rains it pours and now instead of having no options for housing, I may have two.  Jana Korb, who I met through my first gig here at ZirCouplet is flatmates with Tobias Stiefel, who is the MC of the varieté show.  Jana is going to be traveling for over a month in November and then Tobias will be travelling in December and January.  So they have space for me to rent in their giant home in Kruezberg.  I said yes to this.  It is at the top of my manageable price range (250€/month.) I have the rent for November and I have over a month to find a job.  With my tenacity, I can manage this.  Then, two days ago, I get a text from a WG (Wohngehmeinschaft: shared space, generally somewhat communal) that they would like to meet me.  They have 2 large dogs and are across the street.  It's a little cheaper (220€/month), there is a shared vegetarian food budget of 20€ per week, and 9 other women live there.  The flat is the 2nd or 3rd floor of a converter warehouse and has a community space that is a bar once a month on Thursdays and I could possibly have rehearsals/teach workshops there if I went to a few meetings.  I would not be allowed to cook meat in the house, but that is really the only rule.  Meat is expensive anyway.  This doesn't bother me at all.  Honestly, this WG is my Berlin fantasy.  I hope I get it.  Otherwise, I am very excited to live for a month with Tobias and then a few months with Jana.  It is a hard choice to make, actually.  I don't know what I want more.  The house in Kruezberg is warm with a woodburning stove.  Hmm. 
Maybe I will not get the room in the WG and it will be decided for me.
I have been beginning to get my things together for my trip to the Auslanderbehörde (alien's authority.)  Most daunting right now is health insurance, mostly because I can't read German well enough to navigate the websites.  Also, the fact that I have to bring a translator with me to the Auslandbehörde.  Also, everything.  But I really shouldn't go until the end of November anyway, as my Visa is not up until December 12th.  My German class is from November 21st to December 16th, so I'll have to get a little bit of an extension, anyway.
And I discovered something.  If you don't immediately get your Visa, they don't just tell you to go back to your home country.  Nope!  They give you an appointment to come back with the stuff you were missing or need to amend and an extension on your Visa until that appointment.  So I figure as long as I can keep myself housed and fed, this is what I will do.  Even when I come back to the States for a few months to teach summer camp in June, I can still be working with the German Embassy there to get me my year long Visa.  Or maybe the first time I go will be I will luck out with someone nice and I will get it the first time.  The point is, if I make the effort, I will be able to stay here legally. 
It's not just me that can do this!  I am not magic. I am just driven!  If you don't like a situation you are in, leave!  Find something better!  Take a risk at failure! 
Go somewhere where you don't speak the language!  Stumble and fall!  Be afraid and sit with the fear!  Challenge yourself!  You can get back up!  You can!
And speaking of language, it is really hard to practice your German when you can hardly ask "Vas ist dein Name?" and "Woher kommst du?" when the person you are talking to speaks English well enough to have deep philosophical conversations with you about how the mind works, what makes us attracted to certain people, and how fear can control us if we aren't careful.  You begin to feel like you will never be able to be so fluent and why not just speak English.  This is not a good feeling when you sit alone with it or you realize that you don't know how to ask someone if they need help.
Last night on my way home from watching this month's Zir Couplet show, I sat on the train across form a Turkish man who obviously wanted to talk to me.  We made eye contact.  "Ist Kalt!"  He exclaimed, rubbing his hands together. 
"Ja!" I agree.  "Ist Kalt."
He says something else and I am confused.  "Es tut mir leid," the words feel blocky coming out of my mouth.  "Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut.  Langsamer, bitte."  He says it again.  I understand a tiny bit.  "Ah, America!  San Francisco, California."
He asks how long I have been here.  Slowly.  I can't really understand every word, but I know what we are talking about.
"Ein monat.  Ich Versuchen,"  I stumble.  Did I say the word right?  Versuchen- I try.  I think I conjugated it wrong, though!  I feel my face get hot.  But the man is so patient.  He smiles at me.  I try again.  "Ich versuchen bleiban."  He nods.  I say, "Ich versuchen bleiban.  Visa. . ."  I trail off. 
"Visa problems."  He says.
The train stops.  "Viel Glück." He says as he departs.
I feel like an idiot because I am so ridiculously proud of myself.  I just need to start trying more.  I wonder what kind of reward I could give myself for going out into the world and speaking no Englisch for a few hours?  I wonder if I would cry?  We'll see!
Vending Machine at Ostbanhof: Candy, Red Bull,  Condoms, Pregnancy Test

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