It's 6.50 am. I got up at 6.02 to put more coal in the ovens before they went out. It's tricky because you have to leave the flu open for a while to get the carbon monoxide sucked out, but it can't be open too long or all the heat leaves and the coal burns down. TAR ART RAT has given me a number to call for compressed wood briquettes.
Johanna Thompson likes the idea of the pret-a-parler language lessons, though our meetings lately have been taken up with abortive attempts to get me signed up for health insurance. Since April having health insurance has been a legal requirement in Germany, and insurance companies are legally required to provide insurance to people who have jobs that offer benefits, but they are not required to insure people who are self-employed.
We talked to the DAK, her insurance company, and they said that they could not insure me because I was self-employed, but if I signed on with the Kunstlersozialkasse they would then be able to provide insurance. The KSK paperwork takes 6 months to process, but the longest journey starts with a single step; we got the forms, which required a survey of my employment history from the time I finished my doctorate to the publication of my first book; they also required a form from the insurance company I proposed to use. So Johanna got the form from DAK, and we filled it in and went back, and they explained that they could not sign off on it unless I was already insured. If I took out private insurance they could then sign the form; otherwise not. If I had been overseas and had proof of insurance there that would be all right. So it might be necessary to go back to Britain and get a certificate from the NHS. Or it might be possible to sign on with Sozialhilfe, claiming phobia of the spoken word as a mental disability presenting obstacles to employment (this is not a dodge, just a statement of fact, but that does not necessarily give it a better chance of making the grade).
I once knew a woman who wrote a novel about German bureaucracy. She had been knocked off her bicycle at Checkpoint Charlie and had had to go through a complicated procedure to get compensation. For some reason there were penalties associated with not claiming compensation.
The next room smells strange. I open the windows. The air is fresh and sweet.
Mark Greif has been sending the proofs for the excerpt from Your Name Here which will appear in the next issue of n+1. The designer has not yet finalised the Arabic so it's hard to tell what it will look like.