Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A New Hope

I guess I have chosen the first Star Wars movie title because the beginning is actually the middle. And that is where I am at, starting all over from the middle. My dissertation is back on track, with the change in theme I feel a bit more confident and also feel like I am not trying to bite into an entire piping hot apple pie while it is walking away from me. I got it down to a slice, now I got to consume it/write it bite by bite.

I also started on that "other project". Wrote some pages for it, not sure how I feel about it, but it is getting out of my system.

Then I updated my monster account, so I can start to look for a gig with insurance. I gotta pay for my insulin pump.

And I figured out some of my settings on my blog that should make it easier for comments to be posted.

Talked to a friend in Norway about the riots (I have been making mad comments to people all over the websphere about stereotypes in Europe). Wrote an e-mail to a friend from Brazil.

Watched the Coretta Scott King funeral service in bits and pieces. If I was there I would have called her "a woman with a cool head and a fiery heart". And I would have also said that she proved that to be a mother and a wife does not mean you can't be a warrior.

Later a feminist popped up and said that Jackie O. and Coretta Scott King proved that you can endure and be calm and strong and still be effective. The old feminist movement overlooked them she continued. Then she went on to blah, blah, blah. Anytime I hear that kind of speech I remember when my boss accused me of being "just one of the other men" when it came to power. That was her reasoning for not defending me against some really foul shit. And shortly after that I was sent up the river without a paddle. I could have sued. I think feminism is fair, but in terms of things that have happened to me in my old company, I think I still carry some baggage and trust "issues" (such a silly word now, but a friend of mine from Holland loves its American usage) about power women in the work place and how they perceive me. Them Southern executives who worked with the NYC office ran a freakin' train on all the women and blacks who worked for them. I will never forget this same female director taking me to lunch at my favorite French bistro (it is gone now) and crying telling me I had nothing to do with the power play that was pitted against her. "But what about me" I thought. I just left that job. I had to leave that job, I was not being defended in anyway. I left only to hear other male friends talking about having to leave other jobs too. I guess it is universal . . . in America. German corporate politics are back in the 50's, so you can guess what my black ass had to go through walking through that door. Actually, I did not go through shit cause I am an arrogant pompous ass! Them white folk went through some shit, and I did not tire of giving it too them. Maybe somebody will write a book about it.

Hey, maybe I should write a book about it!

Flash of literary success in front of my eyes.

Now back to normalcy.

I promised not to be an angry slave this week.

And finally I have been getting stuff together for my German trip. I leave on the 14th of February. I talked to Pepper. He asked how long I have to live. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not. Everyone just says, "I did not know it was that bad." Well, actually it is better with a tube running out of my stomach, what is bad is people being so aggressive about drinking and drugs when I tell them I can't do them. I can have a beer, but not anything else. In Germany everybody has to be doing what everybody else is doing . . . at least in the Southern German.

So. I am kinda ready to make my amends. Got two checks coming from my old job here in Nashville. Will meet my Doktorvater (mentor) in Cologne, spend a weekend with some friends, pack my things and start again from the middle.

Teaching again when I get back. Non-insured. Bummer. I do like how companies treat you over academic institutions honestly. But I won't bitch. I think I have found people and a university I can work with the way I want. The important thing is for me to keep on writing.

Now that has got to be in the top 3 things. Ignoring dumb asses and fucking with boys that make me jump through hoops is in the top 5. Girls? They always pop up when I need them. When I want them, or when I want her most I should say. They are secret treats I don't like to share. I have said it once and I will say it again.

I am a repressed heterosexual.


Mendi O. said...

You're a champ, Littlemilk. I don't really know what you're saying about your job situation, but it does seem like it would make for an interesting write-up. Does your novel take place in Germany? And I love "Doktorvater". I'm totally going to use that. Is that specifically for a doctoral studies mentor or is it a general term for mentor?

Littlemilk said...

Mendi O.

Something really weird is going on with my comments section, but I got your post via my regular e-mail account. I changed the settings on my blog so comments will show on my blog again so we won't have this problem in the future.

Now. Doktorvater is specifically your PhD mentor, unless it is a woman, then it is your Doktormutter.

My novel takes place in Tennessee in an imagenary town during the 1880's. I wanted to do it during Reconstruction, but I really can't flesh out a carpetbagger.

I am a bit nerves about it. I was studying a geographical maps of Tennessee yesterday. My gosh, what a weird state. There are so many different types of elevations and valleys and rivers that run like snakes. Rich foilage, jagged cliffs. Caves. I am finding it very interesting.

I am reading about the Cumberland Gap and the founding of Memphis now. I don't remember having to study that much about Tennessee when growing up. Europeans think of us as ahistorical, and from looking at some of the brief descriptions of historical events by the National Park service on the net I can see why we are so out of touch.

John K said...

Good luck with the project, and are you going back to Germany to stay for a while? What is the deal with their insurance system? Doesn't the state provide it, or do you have to buy it? Is it expensive? I'm really curious about this, because I had this fantasy image of how Western European healthcare systems, especially in the wealthiest countries, work, versus the mess that exists here. But Germany obviously isn't France or Britain or Belgium. Anyways, have a safe trip and please stay in touch! Boa viagem!

Littlemilk said...

Healthcare. In Germany it depends on your status. If you are German, then you are pretty much set. Either your boss takes care of your health insurance, or you go into AOK.

When I worked for Bosch, they had made so much money over nearly a century that it is now a foundation, and the social benefits are absolutely fantastic. I did get some benefits, but not health. I was a contract worker.

I am sorry, I forgot what AOK means, but basically it is like a humane Cobra plan. AOK has all these formulas according to your income and age and all that stuff. From that formula, the amount deducted for your health insurance is given to you and you sign a contract. AOK is what many people have when they are freelancing, or they are not the main bread winner. It is also the plan many students transfer to when they are no longer covered by their parents insurance. Regardless as to if you are a foreigner or a German you have to have been with a different insurance plan for 3 months then you can transfer. If you are married to a German citizen, I think you can just walk into AOK and get yo' shit.

You come without insurance or without being married then you are completely out of the system. I asked about insurance and explained about diabetes before I interviewed, and my contact said not to worry, Europe is easy (dumb ass me!).

If you are a foreigner there are two statuses that I am aware of. There is the refugee (which Germans don't like because they are a burden to their system). Then there is the entrepreneur. That means you basically work and pay taxes and do not get Sozialhilfe (Social Help). I was in the later, so in order to stay in the country I had to have insurance. This meant that I had to buy insurance. I had many problems being diabetic. Basically no one wanted to insure me because of my preexisting condition. This meant that I had to pay out of pocket for doctor's visits. To my shock, the first time I went to the doctor, they told me my bill would have to be approved by the head of Tuebingen University Hospital (there is more to that story. . . in short, when they found out that I was not African, but American, they acted much differently towards me, and my German was not good so it was hard for me to understand things). Basically, in Germany everyone is covered and they don't really understand paying out of pocket. One doctor did refuse to take my money and sent me to a public clinic saying in Germany it was impossible for me not to get insurance. He was a complete asshole that already knew everything, but he did not know anything.

I assure you the myth that healthcare coverage in Europe is paradise is a lie. If you are a foreigner and you have a chronic illness and go to Germany, please have insurance then transfer to AOK. It took forever for me to figure that out. German "Beampter" are Kafka rejects, I just ran from room to room, looking at green lights then red lights, not one son-of-a-bitch being able to tell me what the other son-of-a-bitch was doing two doors down.

I did have an opportunity to sign a 3 year contract when I first got there, because the insurance company felt that my test and doctor's visits would be numerous and they needed a 3 year commitment in order to recoup their money. It was my first semester teaching and I was very unsure about staying in Germany, so I declined because I did not have an extra 400 DM, which is about 200 Euro a month, to spend.

We both laugh now. I lived in Germany for 4 years.

Because of a dry spell in terms of my clients at Bosch and Debitel, plus me being dropped from the European School of Business as an adjunct, I had great financial hardship in 2003 due to insurance in Germany. Part of it was my fault because I did not have all the information concerning insurance at my finger tips, and I would consult my friends and they did not know why I was getting rejected. Basically to stay in the country I bought traveler's insurance which was like 90 Euro a month. That keep me legal. I would pay 300 Euro (about) for my visit to the doctor about 3 or 4 times a year. But I had to pay for my medicine out of pocket, which was about 90 Euro every month to 6 weeks.

Drugs are cheaper in Europe, but the French system is far better. To see a doctor in France you pay 20 Euro if you don't have insurance. Belgium is the same. I was on a trip to Eupon and needed insulin. I went to the pharmacy and they told me I needed a prescription. I walked to a clinic. Waited a little while, a young doctor came up and talked to me. She was very nice. I did not even need to pay there. They sent a 20 Euro bill.

Germany is much different. Part of it was because I was an Auslander, the other part is that they are people that don't know how to deal with exceptions to the rule. So, I had to make myself fit, at least in Southern Germany. My experience of everything in Cologne is so much different. Germany is a cradle to grave society, and the risk of being an Auslander is that the German citizens honestly do not what to do "in your case." Just as if a Mexican ran into my house asking me where he needed to go before getting ejected out of here, I would just stare at them. This is a danger of exile.

And for me, they did not know what to do for me as a diabetic. Another colleague had a daughter and she was really going through hell with her diabetes. She was 10 years younger than me, but on top of being diabetic she had an eating disorder (believe me I can understand how that can happen if you are diabetic). My coworker said that diabetics are treated very badly in Germany. I did not know what she meant by that the first semester I was there. By the end of my stay in Germany, I understood very well, I just wish I had asked her more then. I am missing a piece to the puzzle. Even my doctor and the way he talked to me, I sensed that my nightmare was common to most people in the waiting room.

Littlemilk said...

Oh, I forgot.

The system is changing and more Germans are having to pay more money for insurance. They don't like it. But, when Helmut Kohl re-unified Germany he fucked everything up. First he made one East German Deutschmark the equivalent to a West German Deutschmark. It should have been more like East German money is worth 65 cents or so. The economies are not equal.

Then all these East German that were retiring got the same insurance plan out of a sense of unity. The only problem being that those East Germans did not pay into it!

So, it is hard to say. Many think that Angela Merkel will be the new Maggie Thatcher. I think her task is similar, but I am not convinced that she will go about it the same way.