Tuesday, November 6, 2007

paperwork

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.

6 comments:

Jenny Davidson said...

Phobia of the spoken word! That is a useful phrase - now I can explain why I am virtually incapable of picking up the phone to call someone I do not know...

"Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

ouiouioui, the bureaucracy! It is a certain nasty beast of faulty machinery (or is it Fawlty?), -an unwittingly wicked thing, it cannot be self-aware because it is so fragmented and sequestered and there is no communnication between so many of the different parts or oversight or thought for such things as Catch-22s... ouiouoióuiuouiu! grr.

M. Ramirez Talusan said...

mark greif and i went to college together... i just e-mailed him to express my anticipation for the new issue. i'm hoping to be able to teach "your name here" in the fall. crossing my fingers that the image rights issues will be resolved by then.

Mithridates said...

JB and I haven't had heat in the back part of our apartment (bedroom, kitchen, living room) for 3 years. Last night JB leaned over the radiator, turned the knob on the side, and fffffft! fffffffffft! Ft! FT! ffffffffffff.... It started, uh, working.

All we had to do was turn the knob. Oh.

Now our apartment has that pleasant oil-burning smell. I've scalded myself twice on the radiator. I'm thinking of turning the knob back....

Ithaca said...

jd - I hate doing anything important over the phone, because utterances cannot be retracted. In fact I will agree to just about anything to put an end to the conversation, so it is really not a good idea to do business that way.

tarartrat - it IS exhausting. Nameless voice from Bureaucracy A says you need a piece of paper from Bureaucracy B; B says they can only give you the piece of paper if you are already enrolled with A. And so on.

mrt, very glad to hear of your plans for Your Name Here, and yes, it would be good if the rights issues could be resolved.

Mith, a working radiator is a wonderful thing. I met someone on the top floor of my building and mentioned that I had Kohlheizung and he expressed incredulity that anyone in the building could still have such a thing. (He had some sort of excellent non-coal-powered heating.) I said my theory was that the people on the upper floors had rebelled first, because they could not face trekking down 3 or 4 flights of stairs every morning and trekking back up carrying 10-20kg of coal, whereas someone in a 1st-floor apartment like mine can just about face going down a couple of flights of stairs and up again. Or rather, I attempted to expound this theory, but I kept running up against aspects of German grammar that I had never known well and had soon forgotten, so that he never really grasped the connection between a 4th floor apartment and central heating.

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that authors who submit work to n+1 receive nothing for their work which can be directly converted into food, clothing, or shelter. I hope everyone who's anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next issue of n+1 finds it in his pocketbook to send along a contribution to the authors of his favorite submission once the issue arrives. -- Peter