adventures! of a freshly post-thesisite, in the first week of the rest of her life

Friday, 18 January, 2013

A lethal mix of late nights of Borgen, malfunctioning clocks, and knowing my supervisor wouldn’t be in today led to tardiness to the tune of 10:25am. Huh boy. The office continues to be dead quiet, with seven of us in. I took it easy – did some work, then quaffed around a bit.

Then I went for the salmon heads. They had three today! I was ecstatic. Came home and made hotpot. If removing salmon gills was on my bucket list I could now tick it off, but it’s not, cos it’s bloody disgusting (pun intended), so I won’t. And now I’m so stuffed with fatty fatty salmon that my body and brain’s reached lethargy. Something tells me eating ice cream while starting Borgen Season 2 is a terrible idea, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

Borgen and work are both challenging my views on politics and ways to get social change. More on that at a later date…

Wednesday, 16 January, 2013


As I watched Birgitte (the protagonist) eat ice cream in the first episode I felt a craving too, so I nipped out to the Lidl and got me some Snickers ice cream bars. Soooooo good. Even better than an actual Snickers bar.

After work I strolled down the street to the Asian store and got some tofu and had hotpot with tofu, vermicelli, sliced beef, “Chinakohl” (jun baak/wawa choi) and vermicelli. Best dinner I’ve had since coming back.

On my way home I passed the fish store, which I’d passed countless times before but never gone into, and worked up the courage to ask if they sell fish heads. Salmon heads? Why, yes, they do, though it’s quite a limited offer (one or two a day). They cost 50 cents PER HEAD. GIVE ME ALL YOUR SALMON HEADS!!!!! I foresee a lot of fish hotpots this winter :)

Damn good hump day.

Tuesday, 15 January, 2013

The alarm went off at 6:30am, at least three hours too early for my liking. I had to be at the Finanzamt – the city’s financial office – before work to hopefully pick up an income tax card, which my employer had requested the day before. God, German paperwork is confusing. Especially if your German, like mine, sucks. I highly recommend pretending you know zero German when dealing with the authorities. I make the mistake of wanting to show respect to my host country/city by speaking their language, but I might as well not for all the information I end up (not) understanding. I am breaking about eight laws as I type because of missing paperwork due to a lethal mix of language incompetence and laziness.

The Finanzamt nearest my apartment is in the hamburger meile – the Hamburg Mile – which is a looooonnnng two-storey mall that stretches from Hamburger Straße subway station to Mundsburg station. It has a decidedly non-European feel in that it is, well, a mall, and an extremely spread-out one at that. I did enjoy walking through it before anything but the bakeries were open, though. Oh, artificial heating. What did people in cold places do before electricity?

Turned out I didn’t/couldn’t apply for a new income tax card for 2013 because I’d had one in 2011. But the 2011 one expired at the end of 2011. So I have no frickin idea what to do or what that’s all about. Also, I am likely in a spot of trouble because I was using an expired income tax number for the whole of last year and likely unintentionally evaded income tax. There’s probably another office I’ll have to visit to get that mess sorted out.

Ah well. Living in a foreign country can be awesome but that awesomeness can have a price.

Work today was a little mundane – not quite sure where the time went, tbh. I am ultra-sensitive to every time I interact with my supervisor because I know he doesn’t really like to be bothered with minutiae, and the next month will be testing grounds for both of us in my working style. Namely, I think we’re both curious as to whether I can work independently and make my own decisions. My former (and first) supervisor comes in once a week and was there today too, and we had a nice chat about personal stuff before talking about the cities forum we’re both involved with organising. She’s always been a superb listener and has always taken me seriously, but – is it my imagination? – now that I am both out from under her wing and sporting a fancy new job title, she doesn’t talk to me as if she’s teaching me any more. Instead, I feel almost ready to stand my ground if need be. Operating word being “almost”, of course…

Oh, so lunch was a nice surprise. Someone referred to my job title but neglected the “junior” prefix, and when I gently corrected her she and my former supervisor were not only surprised but mildly incensed that there was need for the prefix. Though I can’t admit this to anyone in the office, I will hold on to that prefix until I feel comfortable stretching my wings. Titles help signal and lead to assumptions and expectations. If expectations of me are low, they are that much easier for me to meet or surpass. That’s reason number one. Reason number two of why I must remain junior – at least for now – is that without it I would be on the same professional level, at least title-wise, as some of my colleagues who do incredible work and who are supremely knowledgeable to an extent I can only dream of being.  No way are we equals.

Remnants of pain from yesterday’s bike fall linger: my shoulders, legs and arms ache.

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Drew the curtains to find a world lightly dusted with snow. Bollocks, as the Brits would say. I live far enough from work that walking would take impractically long but close enough that the use of public transit suffers from huge sunk time costs. The bicycle is usually my best bet. Not when it’s snowy underwheel, though – as I’d discover soon enough.

Got caught with the front wheel sliding parallel to an uneven edge in the sidewalk, which is the surest way to fall. Fall I did! Fortunately, nothing flew into the busy street and my head was untouched, which is about as good as one can hope for. Knocked the wind and poise out of me, though, and I proceeded to spend the rest of the day skulking like a beaten kitten.  And the knee of my  trouserleg got a little ripped up. I love those trousers! And as I limped the rest of the one-thirds of the way to the office, a dark patch of blood started to form on the knee. The grossest is that I sported that patch for the whole day, no doubt putting some of my colleagues off their lunch.

The office was real quiet, with only five of us in. My supervisor was there and was uncharacteristically communicative; is it because his second-in-command was away and I was the only one left in the department to help him deal with stuff? Or is it because, now that I’m a real staff member, he regards me in a different light – as a real part of his team and not just a super-intern? I suspect its more the former… time will tell.

I half-cycled, half-walked home. The cold and tiredness and pain left me with no appetite, so I picked up a bag of chips and watched Bill Bailey for the rest of the evening.

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