Six Years On

Rainbow balloons at the Rathaus

Rainbow balloons at the Rathaus

Six years in Germany. Wow. It is strange that on one hand time seems to have gone by so quickly and on the other hand it seems like the exact opposite. It feels like I just arrived here yesterday and that I’ve been here forever.

Thanks to Timehop, I’ve been reading tweets leading up to my move to Germany and it was such a dark, depressing time. I just want to give that scared, broken girl a huge hug. Living in Germany has radically changed me in ways I never expected. I am so much stronger and braver for it. I have had experiences I never would have had if I had just stayed in Australia and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Things here haven’t always been easy, but they have never gotten so bad that I just want to pack it all in and move back to Australia. German is still doing my head in and I hate watching TV or movies in the language, but if people at work try to speak to me in English then I get really irritated and annoyed. One day I’ll work out what that’s all about.  Perhaps it’s because it is a recent thing and I’m all, ‘Why are you speaking English to me now??’

On the whole, this year has been tough, like really tough. Let’s face it, 2016 has been a bitch of a year for many people.  I’ll be glad when we can kiss this year goodbye. However, the toughness of this year has much to do with life situations and not where I am, geographically speaking.  I still love the WTF moments that Germany frequently throws up. It keeps life interesting.

Let’s see what interesting things Germany throws at me in year seven.

I’ve Been Holtzmanned

Last week or was it the week before last? I don’t know, my weeks are all screwed up. Umm, so recently I went to see the new Ghostbusters movie and it was all kinds of awesome. I can’t remember the last film where I laughed so loudly and so often. It was everything I wanted the film to be and more.

Also, it was the one of the first films I can remember seeing where an out gay woman was one of the leads. Do you know what that is like for a queer girl to have an out gay woman headlining a blockbuster film?  It’s fucking revolutionary.

And I fell for her and I fell hard, cause let’s face it Kate McKinnon is just divine.

ghostbusters wink

 

I mean seriously.

new toyspower packlet's go

 

Okay, cuteness and crushes aside, her character is quirky, just left of normal and totally okay with being her weird awesome self.  This is the kind of character I want young girls seeing on the screen. In fact, all four female leads are the type of characters I want young girls seeing on the screen.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like for 9 year old me if this was the cast of the original Ghostbusters movie.

Ghostbusters Day 16

Then I want them knowing that Holtzmann is played by a gay woman and that’s totally okay too. Cause 9 year old me would have been like

what holtzman

So, Are You Fluent in German Yet?

fluency“So, are you fluent in German yet?

“You must be fluent by now, right?”

I keep getting asked these questions all the time and my answer is simple, no I am not fluent in German yet.  According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages fluency is classed as a C2 level, which is described as:

  • Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
  • Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
  • Can express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

I am nowhere near there yet and there are times when I think that I never will be.

Even if we went with a less academic explanation I still wouldn’t class myself as fluent. To me, fluency means that I have very little to no difficulties using the language.  I still struggle with German even though I work in a German speaking office. People think that because of this fact that I must be fluent, but I am not. My German is good enough that I can work in this environment with minimal problems but there are still problems. I don’t always understand 100% of what is said to me. Yes, I can gather the meaning, but do I understand every single word? No. Also, my grammar can best be described as a hot mess. I am lucky that I have colleagues that ignore my constant grammatical fuck-ups, although I am pretty sure that some of my emails provide people with a good laugh.

Truth be told, my German would be a lot better if I put more effort into it. Since starting at my German speaking job a year ago, I have ceased going to German classes and consuming German media like TV & books. Initially, this made sense as my brain was fried not only from trying to deal with the language, but also because I had to learn a whole new job. Yeah, I’m the idiot that switches careers and languages at the same damn time. I still work in the same industry as I did before, but I’m now doing a completely different job (I went from doing Tech Support to Ad Operations).  I’m still thanking my lucky stars that all the programs I use are in English (thanks Google!).

However, now things are different. I’m kicking ass in my new job, but I still feel entirely unmotivated to work on my German. It’s like my apartment is an English only zone, an escape and reprieve from my outside life being almost completely in German. I’m wondering if anyone else actually feels this way. It’s almost like I’m guarding this English speaking part of myself.  Realistically, it makes no sense, but that’s the way it stands at the moment.

I do find the longer I speak German at one time, the more comfortable I feel. When I went to the Dyke March I spoke pretty much exclusively German and by the end of the night, it felt strangely comfortable, almost normal, which is a very rare feeling for me.

However, I still can not express all I want to in German. I don’t feel like the true me when I am speaking it.  I guess this is what it boils down to. I am not fluent in German as I can’t be me in German. I can’t say what I want to say in German. I need to dumb it down. I am nowhere near as expressive or sarcastic or even as intelligent in German as I am in English. I will consider myself fluent in German when I can be the authentic me in the language. Maybe that day will never come.

I Can Sing A Rainbow

music-theme--notes-on-white-background-with-rainbowOn Wednesday night I did something that was both scary and exciting – I joined an LGBT choir called the Regenbogen Chor (Rainbow Choir).  It is a brand-new choir that is just getting started, which to be honest took the pressure off just a little bit. The thing is, I haven’t sung in 20 years. In my younger days I was constantly singing, which happens when you grow up doing musical theatre, but then I just stopped, for reasons I can’t recall.  So flash forward 20 years and with my extremely rusty voice, I’m attempting to get back into it.

I was overjoyed to find that there were quite a few new people starting that night and that not everyone there sounds like a professional singer. Also, that regardless of whether you are singing in a choir in Australia or in Germany, the warm-up exercises are pretty much the same (although done in a different language). I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to be singing again. To hear how awesome it sounds when you harmonize with one another. The choir also had a really friendly and welcoming vibe to it which helped immensely with my social anxiety.

From a language standpoint having everything, including the songs we are singing, in German was fantastic. I really need social outlets where I have to speak German 100% of the time. Also singing in German is probably going to be good for my pronunciation, which, let’s face it, can be pretty horrific at times.

From a personal standpoint I was really damn proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new.  Instead of my usual thing of wanting to do something, but being too scared to so inventing a thousand excuses of why I can’t do it. Seriously, there are times when I am the queen of excuses.

Giant Papier-mâché Vaginas and Unicorn Onsies

Last Friday night saw me walking behind a giant papier-mâché vagina being pulled by women wearing unicorn onsies with 650 other ‘dykes’ for Hamburg’s first ever Dyke March. The aim of Dyke March is to increase the visibility of lesbians and queer women and to promote the aims and challenges that are unique to queer female community. So often queer women get lost behind the minimal clothing, sequins and glitter of the queer men. We are rarely photographed during Pride parades because we don’t stand out as much as our fellow queer men.  Let’s face it, we just don’t get the clicks that a photo of a 6 foot drag queen does. So, the Dyke March was our chance to steal the spotlight for the moment.

I think a giant vagina with a golden clitoris is rather spotlight stealing.

A giant vagina. What else does a Dyke Match need?

A photo posted by Meg (@riaynmac) on

 

Also, what is more awesome than unicorn onsies! I really need to find out where they brought them.

Unicorn Onsies!! 🦄

A photo posted by Meg (@riaynmac) on

 

We were given a sign, so we looked very official as we marched and danced down the streets of Hamburg.

We've been given a sign so now we look very official. #dykemarch #csdhamburg

A photo posted by Meg (@riaynmac) on

 

This was my shirt for the event. It’s dedicated to all the people who have told me over the years that I don’t look like a lesbian because I have long hair.

 

It was such a fun night. I have never seen so many queer women in one place before. Seriously, where are all you girls hiding the rest of the time??  We danced, we marched, we shouted, we flirted. It was awesome.

How Does This Thing Work Again?

It’s been a long, long time since I have blogged. My apologies. But I’m really not sure what I want to blog about these days.  I’m coming up to 6 years in Germany and life here is no longer different. Germany now feels like home.  This is great in many ways, but it does significantly reduce the blog fodder when you are not undergoing culture shock on an almost daily basis. That’s not to say that I don’t encounter things that makes me think ‘What the hell, Germany?’ but they are far and few between these days. I’m open to suggestions about what you want to read on this little blog of mine, that is if I still have readers.  Is anyone still out there? But, seriously, if you have topics you want to read about, let me know.

As way of an update, let me quickly recap my year. It’s not been a great one, truth be told. I’ve now experienced German hospitals and will now travel through life minus one fallopian tube (fuck you, endometriosis).  Depression has also regularly decided to kick my ass. But there have been good stuff as well.  I visited Norway for the first time ever in June and am now dreaming of life living in a traditional Norwegian farmhouse up in the mountains.

Old Food Storage hut. #Norway

A photo posted by Meg (@riaynmac) on

 

I’m also getting more active in the LGBT community here and took part in the Rainbow FlashMob to promote acceptance of queer folk.

Releasing our Luftballoons at #Rainbowflash #IDATHO #LGBT

A photo posted by Meg (@riaynmac) on

 

The German language still continues to be a daily battle, but one I’m struggling with slightly less. I’m still nowhere near fluent and my grammar continues to be atrocious but day-to-day communication doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did.

So, yeah, I’m still alive and kicking over here. Once again, I really want to know the topics that you want to read on this blog.

 

 

What’s Going On In My Life

My apologies for the lack of content lately, besides inflicting my musical tastes on you. My new job is going really well and my colleagues are still amazingly patient with my limited German. My understanding of German is getting quite good, but I’m pretty sure I have not said or written a grammatically correct sentence in the entire time I’ve been there. Still, I’m kicking ass at my job and have found that a) I really enjoy it and b) I’m quite good at it. Therefore, I’m quietly confident I will be kept on once my 6 months trial period (Probezeit) is up in January.

I’ve also had the good fortune in recent months to have found an awesome group of queer women who I can now call my friends and thus filling the void of knowing no queer women in Hamburg. We are a very international group spanning a considerable age range but somehow we all gel together. I’ve discovered that I can indeed dance until dawn although my recovery time is considerably longer than I expected.

I’ve had ‘fun’ dealing with tradesmen, building repairs and washing machines that decide to explode on a Saturday night.  I’m back working as a sound technician for the Hamburg Players’ upcoming play “Treasure Island” and that is eating up all my spare time. I’m binge-watching my TV shows during the small amount of downtime I have available and spend my days geeking out on Twitter as well as getting stuck into some meatier topics. Seriously, if you want to know what’s going on in my life, follow me on Twitter.

Life is really good at the moment and I’m happier than I’ve been in quite some time. It’s amazing what a good job and an active social life does to your mood. I had no idea just how much my previous horror job was pulling me down, both mentally and emotionally until I no longer had to deal with it.

So, what’s going on in your life?