Embarrassing Follow – Up

This follows a post from October 2016.  It took a few months to figure out, but the bottom line was that I did not do myself any favors by trying to enter the UK from Germany using my American passport rather than using my German Fiktionsbescheinigung, Brexit anxiety notwithstanding.

Ultimately, I had a number of experiences during a few months in Germany after the UK forced me back into German lands and hands at the border.  After both joyful and truly miserable, painful experiences, I returned to England.  I did the same thing, entering on my US documentation.  They gave me 48 hours.  My visa expired while I was there.

Once that happened, the fact that Germany had granted me person which was still good for months thanks to International Laws.

I guess what happened was that I’m so attached to being American that I made life more difficult for myself by not doing the obvious and making the most of German permissions every step of the way.

Like most real life events, there’s more to this story than meets the eye, but that is enough to clarify that.

Culture Shock: 2 years after

Re-entry

Two years ago this coming November marks 2 years living back in the USA after 6 years in Germany.   Those of you who recall, may have read a post or two about ‘return culture shock’.  Maybe you wonder: was there any ‘re-entry culture shock and if so, how long did it last’?

Yes

The short answer is that yes there was culture shock upon returning to the USA for more than one reason.  One reason was that, much as I enjoyed how much everyone spoke English and I could finally go to my normal church, the relative lack of good public transit was not good.  To my own astonishment, I actually missed people speaking German and in fact, I still do.  This is even though, over there, I was only finally getting to be fluent, and still had to fight a cultural bias: a tendency to be dismissive of German language information as irrelevant because I’m an American or native speaker of English.  I was quite happy with myself as that tendency declined while living in Germany, but felt mildly stunned by how bad about that I still was after 5 years of living in Germany.

There are a few other matters, such as the amount of brick.  Part of what I dealt with was being right near where I grew up.

There were familial issues which seemed to exacerbate a sense of confusion or dismay about it all.  My father was never comfortable with my husband being a German or about my son being both German and American rather than only American.  He wasn’t horrible about it, and sort of tried to treat that as acceptable but never quite did: this is a man whom I not sure ever wants to really see his daughter ‘married off’.  I mean, for some reason, I either can’t tell how he really feels about it or else I can but the truth makes us uneasy.   Some days he seems to feel I should be married off,  but other times he seemed delighted if some man of his baby girl’s turned out to just be a toy boy or temp rather than anyone who really permanently took her away from him.

Meanwhile, my mother and sister were just sort of nonplussed by my presence.  I think they may have tried to enjoy it, but felt bad knowing it was induced more by hardship than by pure love…and sort of trying to ameliorate the problem and to try being kind while making me feel guilty about having turned up and not having left after 3 days….Or even, guilty for seeming to want love and attention from relatives I haven’t spent much time around for 20 years or so.  I had hoped that our having time together would be cause for celebration and that we would update our relationships, get on well etc…but instead what happened caused me to nearly regret having even turned up and I nearly went back to Germany rather than staying in the country.

Terrain: in reality, CNY is loaded with hills.  They are not giant mountains or anything of the sort, but both Indianapolis and the area around Bremen, are flat lands.  I spent a total of 16 years in flat lands having been raised in this hilly terrain.  It felt wonderful to be back and yet strange to deal with actual hills and other traits of the land I come from.

No

Of course not!

Not True

In reality, in 1999 I returned to living in the USA after 5 years of living in Southern England, North Greater London, and Slough, Berkshire mostly.  That time, I moved to Indianapolis, where I had never lived before in my life.  It was most definitely back to living in my native country!  at the same time, it was somewhere new.  Even so,  locals told me that it took a year for me to “lose my accent” by which they meant what I and the English perceived as my “watered down American accent”.

Again, when I reached the point of having lived in the North side of Indianapolis for 5 years I did have weird emotions: it really was as long as I’d lived in England.  My second year back I had started saying “Dude” again, which was a major shift.

I’ve been back from living in a village around Bremen, Germany for more than 18 months now.  I still miss needing and using German a lot more.  I still miss fantastic public transportation.  There are other qualities of the nation’s culture that I find that I do honestly miss.  Some are the public support system and educational system.  Some are much more subtle – I’m not even always sure what it is that I’m missing.  There was something different about the air quality there, which I never understood.

At the same time, I’m really finding myself easily ‘moved’ in a happy way about various organizations that are around here – I mean stuff like: the schools I went to growing up actually are around here.  The neighborhoods I lived in growing up really are right in my current local area.

Here and there are people I knew, and I fairly frequently come across others who are or have been involved with some organization I was also part of: a a dojo, a school, a Y, or a church, or even a bar or party place.

It is relaxing to have such free use of my native language again and to have it be in common use.  Of course, I always knew that people speak any language because that’s what the people around there spoke like when they were there.  I realized that in Germany as much as I did here, but that simple lesson has somehow been deeply reinforced.

Different / Changed

I think maybe the truth is that I feel changed, neither in a good or a bad way, but just different.  My perspective and experience were definitely effected.  My attitude towards foreign residents is nothing like it was 25 years ago.  I was never cruel nor malicious but now I’m downright sympathetic and realize that being foreign can be a struggle but also gives a spirit of adventure to every day life.

I certainly wouldn’t say that I won’t live in a different nation again: I would love to live in London, England more: especially if the circumstances would be nice…and I would even brave Germany more, but would prefer to try a city and in whichever nation I would prefer to have a good job or to have plenty of money even if I don’t have a job.

 

Searching for a good book

Searching for a good book

So, you’re out and you’re searching for some choice new novels to read. For your first step you check out the obvious ones at the nearest bookstores and then at home, you also shop around online.

You are open to trying new authors. Maybe you know about small presses and indy presses and maybe you don’t: from the inside the market is complicated.

Have you heard of the following terms bandied about? Commercial fiction, romance novels, cyberpunk, magical realism, ebooks, free downloads, $25 in hard back, $22 in soft cover. Is it all just a jumble

Best Selling Genres – offline & online

Online, women at least are spending more on romance novels and ebooks than on any other type of fiction en masse. As a woman, I found that offensive to be perfectly honest, and did not read anything in the romance category until one of FB friends’ authors (as an author I managed to get a good 20 to 30 other pro authors into my FB friends’ list – many are women), well, she was promoting one of her novels rather than one of her nonfiction witchcraft books and I decided to try it. Unlike a lot of the romance novels there was a woman on the front – usually there is beefcake on the front or else boobs. Her book’s cover art wasn’t like that so I tried it.

Wickedly Dangerous is actually dreadfully disappointing for those seeking a torrid sex romp novel which I had expected it to be. Instead of leaving me blushing half the time, or nauseous, or rolling my eyes at the cliche writing “Donovan reached around and pulled her tightly into an embrace their skin tingling and slightly steaming in the sea air…” It really wasn’t like at all. In truth I felt it was a novel that for some reason only a publishing company that felt confident about selling a woman author’s work to loads of other women felt could be marketed as a romance novel although there is barely more than one kiss in the entire story. I felt that as a regular novel – or a fantasy novel or novel with fantasy elements it was pretty good but as my preconceived notion that romance novels are pornography for women – it wasn’t even smutty. Gad.

The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead, which I actually wrote and is for sale at this site, has more sex in it than Wickedly Dangerous, but isn’t a romance novel. Hm, maybe I just didn’t have the right agent? In truth, I was hoping that both men and women would be interested in it. What genre is it?

In truth, I think it could be defined more than one way and I’ll try to explain why.

Commercial fiction – well, I’m not sure about that. I am pretty sure it just means popular to a very wide audience, in which case my novel could be called that, unless I am horribly deluded. If it means contracted before it was written for at least 6 figures, then The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead isn’t like that.

Magical realism – actually definitely yes on this. The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead does have ‘realistic occultism’ or ‘realistic magic’ in it, but almost nothing as flashy as one would find as minor in fantasy genre novels. It’s all done up as if it were the real world – like the one you and I live in.

Urban fiction – again, definitely yes. As an author I confess to be slightly puzzled whether this means anything other than the story being set in a city. I should know that, I’m an author, but I can assure you that the novel setting and characters all operate in the big city of Indianapolis. What this is like, by the way, depends on what the reader is used to. Indianapolis really is a big city, but for those used to giant cities it is very mellow and much smaller. For that reason, as a person and as an author I call the gigantic ones Megalopolae as per the comic book Judge Dredd who lived in a Mega City.

Crime fiction – yes, The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead is a novel about crime – actually it is about crime prevention. However, the novel is not a thriller which turned off at least one literary agent who I approached with the book. There are several mystery elements to the story, and there is crime in it.

There are threads about morality within the story, mostly clearly represented by different characters. It is mostly black and white, but is also sort of about dealing with morally grey areas – do the means justify the end? That’s left up to the readers to decide.

Cultural Difference & Adjustment 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Wu_ce0VAv4

Check that out to see a German and an American Southerner discuss some of the issues.  I watched their videos in Germany.  Now, all of you have been following along, realize I am dealing with being back in the USA, up in Northeast.

This is simply a follow up on the previous post.

So far, I am still finding that some aspects of being back in the USA are already pleasantly easier and ‘better’ by my subjective standards.  Other traits of the circumstances are already worse than Bremen and Landkreis Verden in Germany.  When I ran into a similar set of these same issues in 2013 I nearly stayed in the USA – over in Indianapolis, but chose to go back to Germany.  That was even though I voted for Obama, by the way and was sorry to be out of the country during  a time of having a President I actually wanted serving in office.

It is a few weeks later and instead of that observation having gone away, it hasn’t.

I won’t go into it further, but I will say that from the video shown above, I reluctantly admitted to understanding ‘states rights’.  Here is how I noticed that I am.  Maybe you are the same but maybe you aren’t.  When I hate a state’s laws, politically (by hate I just mean 100% disagree and emotional about that) I think it is good when the Feds force a State to change their policies but if I felt the State was right, I would feel the Feds were being evil if they forced unwanted legislation onto my State of residence.

If my capitalization is wrong, that is not okay with me but in this post might make excuses that I got too used to German.  As I write in English as a pro such errors are much worse than they are for brick layers who are not interested in professional writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Re-entry

Chaos Paragraph

In the beginning I would have assumed that I would not write ‘stream of consciousness’ blog posts.  It is also true, that after trying 4 or 5 different blogs and 2+ years of this blog something weird happened.  What happened was that I was just starting to devise a more highly structured and more professionally appearing blog.  Then ‘whammo’: my blogging ran aground.  In truth, I found it quite bizarre for something like that to occur just as I was finally starting to function at a higher level.

Now, this is the lower level of operations here at the blog.

This first paragraph is labelled ‘chaos’ because I didn’t even select a topic before I started.

 

A Different Country

Today is another day when I am noticing how some of my attitudes have genuinely changed from spending time in Europe.  The last time I was in Europe, I was able to spend a few days in England.  Less than an hour prior to posting this, I watched and listened to an English woman describing how she landed a literary agent.

In 1994, while studying as an overseas student I read a little of Ayn Rand’s essays on a referral from Neil Peart of the Canadian band Rush.   She nearly ranted about Socialism in Great Britain.  In 2016, at a hostel in Greenwich I had a friendly chat with an Englishman who, even though he works in banking, told me he is a Socialist.

Conclusion:  It is true that in Western Europe ‘Socialism’ is not even a dirty word.

Attitude / Cultural Identity Confusion:  I am in favor of everyone having medical care and insurance regardless of their employment status, gender or income level.  I believe that in rich countries, poverty should not exist and no one should go hungry regardless of their employment status.  I like being American but evidently this emphasizes to me that the feeling that I am politically “a pinko” is actually the truth.  In Europe this is even more commonplace.  It makes me feel awkward being back in my own country in that, I love being American but am busy worrying because my dental work was taken care of thanks to a German who doesn’t even speak English and despite my unemployment.  The moment I returned I learned of a loved one suffering here in our beloved America from going without proper dental care.  I cringed and worried that I never should have left Europe or should do everything I can to get back there asafp.

Culture Issue:  In truth, when I talked to myself about returning to the USA from Europe I had the intention of never leaving to reside in Europe long term again.  I also never intended to make myself just poor without protection in my native country.

 

Trade offs?!

In truth, my experience being back in my own nation is now only a few weeks old.  I believe this is week 6, after a 3 year absence during a 6 year long stint of living in Germany.   I am finding it already both better and worse to be back in the USA.

Saying the Unspeakable

In reality, I am writing it, but in the manner of the spoken word.  Due to my time in Germany I did have some re-education but not ‘at a brainwashing camp’.   I can tell you that my view about the evil of anti-Semitism has not changed.   I can also tell you, that I have learned something incredibly difficult to understand in the German or Russian languages.  Despite how much I agree that the NaZi’s anti-Semitism, and lies were the gravest of evils, I actually think there is nothing evil nor crazy about 2 of their political goals:  1) making German Socialism, German rather than Germany being a puppet of Russia’s.  (England made the same kind of decision about national sovereignty and forming a kind of socialism)  2) Making sure no one starves to death or goes without medical care – at least amongst the citizens of the nation (although I would have strongly disagreed if they excluded 50% of the Germans – the women of Germany from their definition of citizens).

I don’t know any better way of communicating this with you blog readers.

Work Uniforms and the art of Transformation

Got to Work

I was able to work today.  The company that Life has allowed me to work for is vast.

Meaningful Digression about Writing and Editing

Unlike when I write and edit from home – which I am still willing to do, by the way, in the English language, I had a work colleague with me.  In truth, I have had one case of having a junior work colleague with me ‘in person’.  I have also worked with other people who were also working online.

Working as a professional writer and editor from home, the perception of who one’s work colleagues really are becomes bizarre.  One may write something and mail it to someone.  If a magazine, or newspaper or other customer buys it then the editorial staff have become work colleagues by becoming paying customers.  Compared to many other jobs it is weird.

Back to main topic

The company I did work for let me have a uniform.  Work uniforms: some of you have worn them.  To some of you they are a sign of a lame work life.  For others, they are a token of status – of having a job.  I may not even be the only one who was able to view the thing much like a ‘team jersey’.

They told me to not wear the thing around too much.

 

Transformation

Transformation is what happens to that caterpillar that emerges as a butterfly.  Transformation is what happens to some people if they go from having ‘not found God’ to ‘finding God’ or ‘getting a spiritual teacher’.  Some find that their children transform from puberty.   This can happen to people in both good and bad ways.

A lot of the time, the change is relatively minor.  Maybe that’s not really true.  I mean, when an actor or actress goes into character the transformation is not minor.  For ….this is really me just guessing, 50% of workers going into the job is a lot like going on stage.  One does not have to be entirely false but many are also not feeling ‘free to be themselves’.  Those of you who ‘get it’, can see why the simple action that I will describe below is a transformation.

All I did was don the work uniform.  Today, what made it most amusing or unusual was that I did it in a cubicle at a bank.  The reason was that I wanted to arrive on time ready for work.  I went to the bank as an ordinary customer.  That was myself as ‘a private person’ rather than as ‘part of a gigantic global corporation’.  LOL, but I am glad that I am not part of the Borg now….blogging as Borg….but wow, it is a big company and I am connecting with you through weird technology rather than old and ‘in person’ ways.

Another meaningful digression

Who are we kidding?  I wrote both professionally and as an amateur in this language – in this case the point is not about criticizing my abilities but rather to point out that most professional writers work at a distance.  I had to be told to try working more locally.  My record longest distance contracts at this point were the ones from Kuwait to Indianapolis, and the ones from Singapore and India.  I did not do that many of those, but yes.

Back to Transformation

So anyway, I put on the uniform and felt ‘ta da’ transformed.  In truth, I did not feel like I had suddenly turned into someone else.  Thank God, actually.  One might expect that from psychosis or abusive trauma or strong doses of psychedelic drugs or ‘intense meditation’ ….it wasn’t anything like that.

The subjective sensation was so real, and yet so simple.  We all know one way or another how it is to be part of something greater than ourselves but how that is, can be funny or profound.

I took the thing off again after work.  The actual work was nothing to be ashamed of nor proud of.  The work was not in any of the fields in which I have some kind of personal passion.  I also did not hate it.  My emotion about it was similar to how I feel when I do house work that needs doing except for a small pleasure knowing that I had some ‘social status improvement from working for pay’ and that I would be paid.  My work colleague did not bother me and I was happy to have a colleague right there with me and that we worked as a close team.  It was a pleasure I experienced in contrast to the type of pleasure I get from writing something up and just emailing it to the customer/client/boss who reviews it and then sends me an email about whether or not that is okay.

After post notes

Yesterday, I became excited because I read that more than 100 people began to follow the blog.  This is even though there are no ‘beefcake images’ and ‘no visible boobs’.  Somehow I feel almost proud of you for that.  In all seriousness, if any of you have a nice little story about feeling transformed please drop them in the comments.

‘Real engagement’ is always great, and if you do enough you can raise my awareness of many of you ‘as real people who are actually there’.

Recently, I was stunned when a man I knew personally read some of my blog.  Our relationship still hasn’t ‘recovered’ despite my belief that it is good that someone read my blog who I also interacted with in person.  If that seems weird, go back to the paragraph about writers.

Brain Fry? Cross-cultural Re-entry

Heimat Land

“High mott land” is what that sounds like.  That’s German for native country.  Most of you could guess correctly about what one of the two words meant, which is why I describe the languages as ‘siblings’ at least ‘compared to Chinese’.   Like so much in life, it depends on what we are comparing.

It is now just a few weeks since I have re-entered my native country.  Not surprisingly, I have something along the lines of two way cultural shock, mainly because of how long I was over in Germany.  I am already missing my health insurance and looking for more.  I already miss the trams.  There are some people over there I have also been missing, but to preserve their privacy I am not naming names.

While that true, I am generally reeling from the switch back from “brick everything” to “wood and vinyl house siding”.

What I have been most rejoicing about:  the English language (also delightfully available over in England), the presence of relatives other than my son and – some Germans; I have seen the American flag a lot without it being ‘German fans of the USA’.   I am no longer suffering from the TV Land syndrome that many Europeans have wherein the USA is essentially something seen on TV and in the movies but not anyplace real where one lives.

I was able to get some work quite quickly and I kept noticing the past few days that my work colleagues were speaking English rather than German.  That still made it easier for me, even though I learned tons of German in Germany.  In fact, German is the language I now know best after English.  Sometimes that still freaks me out but it is true.

Other causes of joy: I was able to speak clearly rather than dealing with my persona of being some foreign lady from an English language culture who ‘talks funny’ in German, but they are glad how much I can.  The same rule applies for errors whether by Germans or foreigners:  Deutsche Sprache schwere Sprache.

Meanwhile, I want to acknowledge Kraft Klub as the ‘born in the 1980s’ Germans who made music good enough to get me to practice German….Following after those ‘my age’ and a little older: Nina Hagen and Einstuerzende Neubaten.  If you want to try good music with German, I recommend Kraft Klub.