1. It is a little strange, being back in Germany after 2 weeks of Englishness. i have forgotten all my usual teacherly procedures and somehow managed to turn up 15 minutes late to one class, to find an empty dark room, all students presumably at their work. With difficulty i re-establish my web of procedures, to ensure i am on time, prepared, sober, clothed. All is chaos.
2. i sorted out my medical insurance today. 630 Euros a month, the cheapest rates a man with asthma can find in this country. Given i average 2000 to 2500 Euros a month before tax, working 8 to 10 hours a day, the cheapest rates aren’t really all that cheap. After tax and health insurance i will have about 500 Euros a month for rent, food, transport, and paying off my huge debts. This isn’t actually possible but, legally, i have no choice, medical insurance being mandatory in Das Reich.
Luckily i’ve squirreled away a third of my earnings for my income tax next year, and can use this for my medical insurance, for about five months – then i’ll totally run out of money and, i guess, have to reconsider my options. i won’t go back to England and i really don’t want to TEFL in another country, but i think it will come to that (Italy maybe, though i dread the thought). i’m curious to know if the German government will pursue me for non-payment of taxes, since i won’t have any money to pay them. i HOPE i’ll be below their radar, as earning too little to be worth the trouble. It isn’t much of a plan but it appeals to my nature.
i would just continue to manage without medical insurance but i am increasingly fearful of getting run over, falling down stairs at a company, etc., and being found out as a non-medical-insurance-having-foreigner, with all the beatings and deportation and sodomy this would entail, to my chagrin.
3. Recent notable literary experience: re-reading Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad. i first read this about ten years ago, after Harold Bloom lauded it in The Western Canon; i didn’t make much of it but i now think it finer than War and Peace and Anna Karenina. i am struck by Tolstoy’s inscrutably broad nature, blunt and subtle, willing to interject flat condemnations; then withdrawing behind the events and characters as if to say “this is just what happens”. The sense of simultaneously centrifugal and centripetal forces, kept together by a craft so fine as to manifest as the absence of craft, as peasant honesty – this arrests me, as i consider the recrafting of my novel. To have as many diverging strands as possible, and yet manage convergence, honestly and without contrivance, allowing one’s sense of the world to emerge in the complexity of matter, to create form, this is beyond mere technique – one needs a very broad understanding to hold it all together; and so a profound complication of soul.
4. Walking across the gravel paths of ___________platz, i saw triangles and circles drawn in the ground, and equations of cosine, sine, and tangent. A noble, transient graffiti.