1. i have a job interview in Munich on 5 April, a teaching gig at a reputable language school. From this, and the job section of Toytown Germany, it looks like there is plenty of work in Munich. Many people have cautioned me against going to the most expensive city in Germany but since my greatest expense is my almost wholly useless medical insurance, which is a constant wherever i go in Das Reich, i may as well go to a city where i can get a job. Expensive as it is, rent in Munich isn’t as grimly unbearable as medical insurance (more than 7000 €/year just to go to a doctor once every three months, to ask for a prescription – welcome to Germany, where nothing makes sense).
The Corporate Manager suggested i apply to the Munich branches of our school; i nodded vaguely but in truth feel profoundly unwilling to redon these shackles. For one thing, our school only hires freelances but forbids us to work anywhere else – in a city like Munich, where there are plenty of other schools, this makes no sense for the teacher, though plenty for the school. My school pays the lowest wages in the industry, in part because it is a big, evil corporation, in part because the comprehensive instructor manual does not require one to think; you can give a more or less okay lesson just by following the instructions like a robot. i find it not only more fun, more productive, but also easier, to think, to adapt the materials, use my imagination, tailor the lesson to the students. i am a good teacher precisely because i only use the instructor manual as a platform for my own devisings. Any decent teacher is worth more than 12 – 15 €/45 minutes, and i will only get such obscene riches by whoring myself out to independent schools, wearing my dandy shoes and twirling my bow tie.
2. i’ve been consigned to teaching the dread Emails & Business Writing to an Arbeitsamt (JobCentre) group. They are, fortunately, a nice lot, but it is nonetheless tedious. i endeavour to enliven it, so for example in a chapter about following up on business contacts, i asked them to write emails to a student who left 2 weeks ago, begging for a job or money, and reminding him of the good times they had in my school. They all twisted my instructions and instead wrote emails about my hippy flatmate, who i repeatedly use as a grammar example (e.g. “the hippy used all the toilet paper for spliffs, and so elberry had to get more” and “elberry bought an axe, so that he could kill his hippy flatmate”).
i was tempted to show these emails to the hippy and say, “look, they haven’t even met you and they think you’re a turd. Sort yourself out.” But he would just leer stupidly and slur: “ja das ist cool?”
i began the lesson by forcing them to read some tedious business emails, then i asked questions about tone and purpose, the specific language. It was strangely enjoyable. Apart from a private student in Kiel, this is the closest i’ve come to teaching English Literature for a living. Everyone was energised and interested, for the first 20 minutes anyway (after that, the tedium of the fake business emails began to have an effect). My school is all about speaking so such activities are rare; but i think, especially for higher level students, they are valuable. i think close readings are a good way to develop linguistic awareness and intelligence, and i would guess are a better way to learn “how to write” than any bullshit creative writing course.
3. Everything is in the air and i can only guess that i will be in Munich in April, having left most of my life behind. Today, Juniper, the MILF receptionist, suggested i stay here till May. She seemed worried that i would go to Munich without a job offer, and have nowhere to live, and die on the streets, choking on my own blood, making a kind of peculiar death gurgle. i explained that i don’t see any point staying in Ultima Thule, and whatever happens in Munich will happen, good or bad. She gave a head-shaking kind of laugh and said: “I see that you don’t like compromise.”
i grimaced. “Compromise just makes everything worse.”
Yesterday morning, as i was padding carefully past her desk with my coffee (trying not to spill any), she said, a smile in her voice: “I will miss seeing you walk past with your coffee.” i will miss her and hope this will encourage me in my novel rewriting.
When i left the building there was a madness in the air. A disconcerting, warm wind, not unpleasant, but everything felt charged and altered, unfamiliar. The people walking across the square seemed to be acting strangely too – i couldn’t put my finger on it but saw a few people looking over their shoulders, walking weirdly, as if blown awry. The birds were even stranger.
As i crossed the tram tracks i saw someone tapping frantically on the tram doors; i half-turned, the man stiffened, arched backwards as if gripped by an invisible force, and fell to the tarmac. As the tram driver came out to help, the man started shrieking. i considered helping, realised i had no idea how to help, can’t speak any German anyway, so walked away.
All day yesterday i felt some strangeness in the air, not just the wind but rather the world seemed awry; not necessarily in a bad way, it was just that there was energy everywhere, everything unsettled, in chaos. Such conditions are propitious.