Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Cat's Out of the Bag

There are over 5,000,000 unemployed in Germany. The German and I are not among them. In fact, we often wonder why it is that we work so much. I have been thinking of the comment my Grandpa made on my last blog. He thought I had given up on the blog. But I haven't. In fact, sometimes I will be composing a blog in my head as the day goes along. Unfortunately, when I get home everything is gone. Maybe I am going prematurely senile. Or it has to do with all of the work I have been doing lately. I have decided that in order for you to understand, I am going to let the cat out of the bag and tell you what I am up to.

It all started when my career sort of went off track once I got married. I was a grad student in political science in the States when I met the German. My big plan was to become a tenured professor at a liberal arts college (which is, by the way, what ALL GRAD STUDENTS SAY). I went to Germany in 2002 to do dissertation research and . . . I met my husband.

The German and I got married in July 2004. I moved to Germany to be with him and to finish my dissertation. We knew that we would have to stay in Germany for two years so that the German could finish his student teaching and get his certification. I started teaching ESL as a way to make money while writing. I thought we would move back to the States after we were both finished. However, as often happens, it did not happen . . . for many reasons. Basically it came down to the fact that I was more prepared to live abroad than the German. As I often tell people who ask, I love my country. I love my husband more.

As I am basically a positive person, I decided to make the most out of my career. Over the past year it became clear that jobs at universities in Germany are few and far between . . . and the pay is terrible!! The ESL teaching had started to take up more and more time. It turns out . . . Teaching English is hard. Try explaining the past perfect passive. Really, try it. It ain't easy. My students are great. Because I teach adults, who pay a lot, they actually do their homework. About 6 months ago I started thinking about ESL as a career. However, I was a little unhappy with the school where I was freelancing.

In January I took a big step. I am currently in the process of establishing, with my business partner, the lovely New Yorker, my own language school. That's right. Claire's going to be a business woman. (stop laughing Carrie). I still teach for the "other" school at the moment Because I am a freelance worker with no contract, I can legally do that. I also consider myself ethical and I do not mention my school when I teach for the "other" school. AND I am still teaching one politics seminar per semester at the local university. So at last count, Claire has 3 jobs! And still I have no money . . .

Anyway, I want to teach politics as an adjunct for "fun." I figure I should make something of my PhD. But the last 3 months have been well . . . hard . . . but . . . fun! It is so challenging. Running your own business is full of different problems that I have not confronted before. I am also trying to become a "sales woman." To give you a better picture, we have accomplished the following things since January 16:

Signed/Started 5 different contracts/classes, rented an office space and renovated it, applied for our tax identification number, negotiated a kick ass price on office furniture, created a website (which I created in one day after learning html via the internet), had endless meetings with various graphic artists and potential customers, plus a million other things. We are currently working on getting new contracts and I have a few meetings in the upcoming weeks. It is awesome.

And A TON OF WORK. Between appointments, meetings, teaching, planning lessons, grading papers, learning html, and . . . oh, yeah, my apartment and my husband. I am TIRED ALL THE TIME. Seriously, there are days when I want to crawl under the covers and hibernate until summer. I think of my neglected blog and feel guilty. Which is funny because I do not feel guilty about the unwashed dishes in the sink. I probably have warped priorities. Do not get me wrong - I am not complaining. I feel blessed to be doing something that I like. I just wish I could sleep more.

If there a few days between posts, don't fret. I am will keep posting. There is so much to share. For instance, I went to the beauty salon on Tuesday for an eyebrow wax. Oh my God, the pain. Also, we are looking for an ESL teacher and a French and Spanish teacher. We pay well! And we are totally committed to the German tradition of coffee and cake hour.


Anonymous said...

OK, I'll not mention your absence again. I'm proud of your ambition! I hope everything works out to your satisfaction. I suppose it would be too much to ask the German to help you with the laundry and dish washing.

Love, Grandpa

Anonymous said...

Getting caught up as you can see....

First off, I'm tired just reading everything that you are trying to accomplish. It is very Oprah-esque and I have no doubt that you'll be highly successful. Though I do question your sanity if you are teaching for fun!

And I have to give you major kudos for your website. Learning a scripting language isn't the easiest thing in the world and you've accomplished a bunch in a short amount of time. I was just at a seminar for using websites to develop a customer base and they suggested using the following to increase traffic and make a site more dynamic: use forms, streaming video, sample work product and notable logo. Just food for thought!

And can I just say your grandfather is hysterical! Gloria Steinem would be so proud of him