What am I missing here?

On Thursday this mess should start to get cleared up. But I got more tax nonsense asking for more taxes. I just spoke with them recently and THOUGHT I cleared everything up. I don’t know what these new bills are about, but if I don’t get my visa settled and then a letter sent about my taxes for this coming year, I’m expected to cough up a lot of money for taxes that I am 100% sure that I won’t have to pay for the coming year. But I can’t prove that until I have a copy of the new visa. 

What are up with these taxes?? And you know it’s the end of the year and I just want to enjoy my last lessons and wind down, get everything settled for the year. Everything takes ages in Germany, regardless of what the Germans think. I haven’t even had my kitchen light since March. 

Stop.

Breathe.

The women on Monday almost sent me on my way again to wait further, indefinitely. As if 3 months for a  visa isn’t unreasonable. But then I told her to stop and that wouldn’t work and I had done absolutely everything I needed and planned and budgeted, but it can’t go any further. And I think she understood and she made an appointment for Thursday morning early. All because of typo, saying 3 years instead of 2.

This stress is going to do me in. Did I believe I would get my Visa Monday? No not at all. Thursday. 50-50. If I don’t I’ll tell her to call up all my seniors herself and say that since they can’t be bothered to give me a proper timeline, I now have to cancel a year long course,against my contract, maybe,  at the last minute. Which I’d hate. Guess who looks irresponsible.

I’ll get downright aggressive and nasty on Thursday if I need to. This office has been abusing me since 2009.

Everything has been on hold for 3 months. Nothing has been able to function as it should financially and I have had to keep replanning as this isn’t taken care of.

I asked for Monday off I was so stressed out. My boss didn’t like it, of course not, but gosh darn it, I never would have worked Mondays, HAD I KNOWN that I would still be billing her as self-employed and DIDN’T need to increase my income at all. My boss didn’t understand. I got offended. This isn’t about a work permit this is about trying to jump through all the legal hoops and watch all your options and money taken away from you, and in the end being faced with the exact situation as where you started. I can’t make a situation based on my finances and tax rules and then later end up in the same boat again.

I straight up told me boss that I had I known how everything would be come July, I don’t know that I would have made the same decisions back in April, i.e. another year. And I think she got it.

I cannot believe this. I never ever want to go to this stupid office ever again. I am ready to leave this city as a resident forever.

Were it not for the bf I’d go home.

I can’t even go over the multitude and minutiae of difficulties that this issue has brought about. All I have to say is that things will start going downhill really quickly if I am not officially working for my boss in July and my tax status has changed.

We have a problem when I am calling up a month before my appt. to check if everything is really ok. then after no success, finally getting someone to open my file, and then telling me everything looks good. and then when I go the person looks at it for the first time, insinuates it’s not her problem and tells me to eff off. So even though I’m checking that they are doing they’re job, they’re not and I have to pay for it.

This isn’t clear. I don’t care. It isn’t clear in my head. I’m totally overwhelmed trying to make sure I’m taking all the proper steps and if it doesn’t get sorted out, my summer vacation time won’t happen. And hey guess what I’ve already bought all the tickets.

I’m so offended that after all we’ve been through with this, my boss doesn’t get that if I don’t earn enough money, my plans will change. I might have to move my appt.

The thing is, guess what, this all doesn’t have to work out. The bf told me that about Monday. I mean, come on he has to, but I was sitting there stubbornly saying, nope, nope nope dear, it doesn’t. No one is under any obligation to look out for me except for me.

And you know I’ve got fantastic plans and a decent job, and wonderful support and I’m excited about getting some time off this summer, but none of that matters if this thing that I have been worrying about since January and going to offices all over town for and getting advice about the best way to do things doesn’t get resolved.

I’ve been telling myself every month just to be a little bit more patient and it’ll be over. And it isn’t. 2011 will forever be known as my year of bureaucratic torture and abuse. My life has been on hold. My to-do list has stayed constant for 4 months. That alone is torture.

But I need to stop now seriously. There’s nothing I can do. If I’m screwed, I’m screwed. And I think I’m screwed.

This is not how I planned this entry going.

*SIGH*

Took another bike ride. Didn’t want to actually. But I made myself. It’s too hot for the fitness studio. I was already on my bike in workout clothes with water. At least it gets rid of some of my anger.

The oldies were good today. It was a nice time together.

The night before I chatted with my dad and that helped both of us, but that feeling disappeared with the tax letters I got today. (Is it what I supposedly just paid, or is this something new? Also how the hell am I going to explain my new status to them in German!!!)

My bike ride was nice in the sun. I made my favorite meal, Gemista for the first time ever, more or less successfully.

It’s rained and cooled off the heat. Also tomorrow. I will have very little work. Just spending time together with my class.

But I won’t enjoy any of it. I will just be thinking about Thursday and worrying about what else I need to take care of before summer vacation. Even if I get this visa I’ll be hard pressed to do the other bits and prob the bf will have to look into some things while I’m in Greece.

So now I’m going to stop and trying to distract myself and read and fall asleep and hope that one day this will be behind me.

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Countdown to vacation

Another Thursday has come and gone. I’m counting down every Thurs. until summer break. Two more full days to go! Then a last little week before I hop over to Greece. I have a very good feeling I won’t be ready.

I’m a bit overwhelmed with everything at the moment. There are just so many things to figure out before summer break and I don’t have any down time to deal with it. And everything is taking so long. I have had a problem with my lights for 2 months, but still not sorted. Ai. Never mind my contacts, my driver’s licence, my VISA, my bank account, taxes for 2011, health insurance switch, US taxes, summer vacation budgeting double-check. And these are just the biggies.

Not to mention that the bf’s parents are away and while he doesn’t ask for anything extra, I just can’t help cooking dinner for him more often. I mean the boy shouldn’t eat currywurst everyday. His sis feeds him a bit, but goodness knows, the last thing I need to do in a family of feeders is be the one girl who doesn’t a proper job. Later I’ll slack off when needed, but I need to build a reputation in the beginning. He’s not helpless, in fact he’s very helpful and thankful, and is really delighted that I’m cooking more than normal. I’m training him slowly in the kitchen. Everytime I cook I have him do little tasks, he’s willing enough and it’s high time he learned to do some basic tasks especially if it helps both of us eat dinner together sooner. But shhhh don’t tell him.

But I’m a stresser. I will just have to wait til this Monday and see that everything is set for the next year and then get some more big things crossed off that have been sitting on my to-do driving me crazy since March. I never would have imagined that I’d still be dealing with all these super important things right before I was getting ready to start my summer break!

Germany is doing me in plain and simple. I want to get away and feel at ease knowing that all the bureaucracy is behind me.

Butl I’m already looking forward to next fall. This tax fiasco turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I needed to push my senior classes into next year and because of that, I’ve managed to squeeze in an intensive German course. My German is good enough. It gets me where I want to go, but I want to improve my grammar, and push my vocab to the next level. A language is such a fickle thing. The bf doesn’t want me messing with my accent, but I think I’d be taken more seriously if I spoke correctly 80-90% of the time instead of 60-70%.

A spot of good news

Well oddly enough, the same day I posted my previous visa fiasco, I resolved the matter, somewhat unintentionally.

I called once more to see if I could speak with the woman handling it this year. But this time, wonder of wonders, I spoke to a nice local man. It doesn’t always happen, but I can say for the most part, with my American accent, I get more results from men than women. At any rate, God bless this man! The woman I needed was out of town, but instead of saying hey, bad luck for me, try again, it’s not his problem, he went onto the computer *like it was no big deal* and just opened up my case and told me what I had been trying to find out all week. Basically the appointment they’ve scheduled for me is actually because they have everything sorted out, not because they want to issue another temporary work visa. So I don’t need to panic and think my taxes are screwed just because they aren’t being clear. It’s so stupid I’ve seen it many times before. People who have the information try to gain control and power by withholding it when they see fit. And Germany is really out of it’s mind crazy about only relaying things per paper. Nothing important in Germany happens until it’s been printed out.

But thank goodness this guy seemed to realize that I just wanted to be an informed citizen and be well prepared. He clarified many things for me. And I thanked him so much he got embarrassed. I told him he was the first person who could bother communicating my new status. And I didn’t even have to put on my “zickig” attitude and start demanding things. *Sigh*

I was relieved and happy and now it’s not weighing down on me. I’ve got things sorted out for everything I know. Can’t do anything more.

Anyway speaking of the occasional bitchy attitude I need to adopt here, I might have done better with one today. Went to grab Greek yogurt at the one store near work. In the words of my coworker, it’s a bit ghetto, but I don’t usually have a problem and in the land without walmart, you have to do a bit of legwork, but 10 cent savings do add up to Euros.

There’s a certain type of European drunk that y0u just don’t encounter as much in the US. In Germany the beer bottles have a deposit, so the bums will often collect as many as they can, then visit a supermarket when they have enough change to buy more or they go for some really harsh cheap-o bottles of vodka or rye liquor. I don’t know where the drunks hang out in America, but in Germany you see them outside the supermarkets with bottle collections or sitting at bus stops. Not normally an issue, easily ignored, as much as I hate to say it.

Oh but today! After collecting a few items I went to the check out. Stood behind a nondescript guy buying a bottle of vodka. There’s so obvious and so sad. Wasn’t bothered til his friend came up and decided I was just the prettiest girl he had seen. It was stupid. I stood back, I looked away I didn’t answer. Had he been standing there before, I would have chosen another line. From my experience, there’s no point in talking to a drunk man trying to engage you. It only encourages them. Never mind that if he hears my Ami accent, he will latch on and there’ll be no losing him.

I mumbled, I looked away. Behind me there was a Turkish man and his scarf covered wife. I could practically hear his thoughts, about how German women deserve it if they dress that way. But I wasn’t asking for it. I had just come from work. I was wearing some eye-liner and a pink top all very tame. So I looked up at the Turkish man and I sighed. I looked until I felt his sympathy. Maybe he had never thought that. I hate being mistaken for a German woman. It’s not my cross to bear.

The drunk Pole touched me. That was the point where I should have barked “nicht anfassen!” (don’t touch me). I should have said “I’m not a doll. I just want to go shopping, not make friends.” Or “Thanks for the compliment, my boyfriend thinks so too.”  What can I say it’s not in my nature. I’m shy and naturally quiet with strangers. Anyway silence works well in making the other person sound like an idiot.

God being a woman in Europe is really something America never prepared me for. I’m a nice girl. He stole the gum. I told the cashier as she scanned my items. I should have called him out before he was leaving, but I wanted nothing to do with him. Remind me another time what it’s like to live in the land of everyone-looking-away-when-something-bad-happens.

I had to wait to leave til they’d cleared the entrance. If people standing in line aren’t going to help me, no one in a crowd will. As I was waiting another group of foreign boys made some cat calls. I then biked home and ran to the other grocery store for a pineapple (on sale! it’s how I roll) the drunks outside that store also decided they liked my looks and yelled out “excuse me” til I looked over. But I rushed inside.

People can’t place me. I look German, but not in the cheap trashy way with too much make-up skin tight clothes, nor in the natural slender blonde, blue eyes, no work. Nor do I fit in the no make-up let’s go natural trend. I don’t look unnaturally older than my years or orange from the tanning beds. I don’t look dark and ethnic or Greek. For a culture obsessed with brands, even my clothes are confusing, with a mix of German, Greek, English, and American finds. My German accent is good enough that short sentences only hint at not coming from here, but I have to speak at length before it’s obvious.  One women guessed at Dutch. It’s fun playing shape-shifter, but not when I get unwanted attention. Often I wear my glasses just to blend in better.

Visa conundrum

Sometimes the bureaucracy here kills me. I’m meant to have gotten my visa taken care of in April. Germany’s dropped the ball. Something has gone wrong. Now my boss has to do extra legwork to get things taken care of and I’ve got to sort out my income for the next year so I don’t get heavily taxed. Everything is on hold. It’s so frustrating. I can’t even begin to discuss, because I will get all worked up and right now I want to enjoy my morning cup of coffee in peace.

I hate asking for help though. Wait, scratch that. Let me specify, I hate asking my very capable boss for help and feeling more childlike. But just her position and native speaking skills make things come together much quicker. Germans love authority and even fluent speaking Americans who know all the rules and strategies and cultural etiquette, and will stubbornly not back off until they have the information they need from bureaucrats with job security for life, who can’t be bothered to lift a finger at work and believe people who speak German like children, must only be as intelligent as children never having heard their own English from an native’s ear, is NOT! as effective as someone who simply says into the phone, “hi I’m the boss!

And if that convoluted sentence isn’t proof that I live in Germany, I don’t know what is!

Maybe it’ll all work out for the best. Mostly it has to do with the city I live in. In the small university town nearby, my friends had no problem getting things sorted. Earlier when I was worried about a particularly nasty offspring of nazi parentage (even my boss said so!) that had had my case last year, I called up some integration offices for help and they assured me that my town definitely has a poor reputation for dealing with foreigners.

Ah my first post and I’ve managed to drop the word Nazi already.

In actuality, the more I live here, the more I like the Germans and I liked them well enough in the first place. Sadly though, every expat, be they willing or a refugee must deal with bureaucrats and this is not Germany’s best side. However anyone flying into America has to deal with customs and passport control, and based on stories I’ve heard maybe I’ve got the better end of that stick. They even look at me out of the corner of their eye, distrusting my decisions not to live in Ami land. Not to mention the fact the Europeans, having learned how to speak at least one foreign language passably, or failing that, at least have heard other languages on a semi-daily basis, seem to understand that screaming angrily will not in fact aid comprehension. And I feel compelled to mention that, should you be lucky enough to be allowed to study in America, you will need to PAY the US government to spy on your family. Maybe this Bush era law has been taken off the books, but somehow I feel it’s not a huge priority.

At any rate, back to the matter at hand, I’ve been waiting since February to have this issue behind me. I never would have imagined that the end of June would come with no visa. And the thing that kills me, is that I only want to keep the job another year. After that time I will have to deal with a new set of rules for a new category of visa in possibly a new country! Call me a glutton for punishment!

BUT that being said: I can’t imagine living stateside. I may moan and complain and miss American easy-going friendships, but I love being surrounded by languages and having to interact with different cultural norms. I was bored of German for a while, but now I’m back on track to push it to the next level. And I love that I can go into work and learn from my students while I teach them to converse: both the Greek kids plotting how to get away with doing less and the German seniors whining about how they’ll never manage to remember anything. It’s the life I’ve chosen and it keeps this little Ms Ami busy.