Print Story It's been two years since I wrote
By 606 (Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 06:24:58 PM EST) life, change, Berlin, Calgary, misslake's eyes (all tags)
Haven't written a diary here in almost two years. Figured maybe I'd fill you in on my life. The summary:

2008: I live in Calgary. I work in the oilpatch. I own a car, furniture, and lots of shiny things.

2010: I live in Berlin. I work for a music software company. I rent a small apartment and own almost nothing.

I am happier.

So what happened:

misslake moved to Edmonton. I can't recall the specific dates. The past is so fluid.

I would drive every couple o' weekends to Edmonton to see her, or she would come visit me. Our time together was one of the best things going in my life at that point. I did a poor job communicating this. Took it for granted that she'd always be there.

misslake moved back to Toronto. I don't blame her: suburban Edmonton is a terrible place to be. I missed her.

My work, which had generally been quite fun and interesting, spiraled towards tedium. I was promoted to a role where I got to oversee lots of projects. That is: to oversee how they were going to fail but be generally powerless to prevent it. I was asked to write a lot of documents. I was asked not to experiment or try things. I was asked not to use new technologies unless I could provide a 100 page spec document as to why it was a good idea.

I started to drink a little more than usual when I went out to the bar, and I started to regret my drinking the next morning. I started smoking cigarettes. I smoked more weed.

I continued to believe everything was fine.

One night my heart hammered in my chest so hard I thought I was having a heart attack. In the morning I thought maybe that was silly. The next night it happened again. In the morning I called my mom and she brought me to the doctor.

The doctor said it was probably just stress. I told him stress doesn't do things like that. He said yes, it does. I told him I had nothing to be stressed about in my life. He said I probably did but was ignoring it. On his little prescription pad he wrote me a telephone number for a crisis hotline.

On the way back home from the doctor I told my mom I wanted to quit my job.

I went to Vancouver for a week-long vacation even though I had just been in Vancouver a couple months before. I thought maybe I'd check out the city to see if I could live there. But I think I only wanted to be anywhere else besides Calgary at the time.

I stayed with some friends, in a guest bedroom they had. The guest bedroom was in the middle of the house and had no windows. It was pitch black and there was no sense of time. It was strange. That isn't important but it's interesting.

One day I went to the website of a music software company whose products I use and love, to look for tips. They were hiring programmers and the skillset they wanted matched mine pretty well.

I did a phone interview. Then I went on vacation to Italy with my family and on the way back I stopped in Berlin to interview in-person at this company.

The weekend I was in Berlin it was hot and the weather was beautiful. It was the weekend of the Berlin marathon. The centre of the city had been turned into the marathon course. There were spectators all over; they drank beer outside in the sunshine. They talked to each other in their strange language, all smiles. They were mostly fit and well dressed. They were the most beautiful people I ever saw.

I flew back to Calgary. Sometime later the music software company offered me a job. I said yes.

I quit my job in Calgary. I packed up and sold, threw away, or sold all my things. (My parents ended up storing a lot of my junk. I tried to throw a lot of it away but they wouldn't let me.)

I said goodbye to everyone I ever knew.

I arrived in Berlin on December 31, 2009 at 10:00 PM. Everyone was in the street lighting dangerously large firecrackers. There were streams of fire raining down from the windows of the altbau buildings as residents launched fireworks into the sky. At midnight the whole city was exploding like some horrible warzone.

I was in a hostel. My room faced the courtyard. Outside people were drunk and yelling.

I sat in my bunk with my knees at my chin like some scared animal. My heart hammered. I thought a lot about dying. About what would happen if I died here, alone, far from everybody. I thought about flying home.

That was the worst moment of my time in Berlin. Every moment since has been better than the last.

I went to work. It was fun. It was technology I knew but with things to learn too. I met new, wonderful people. I like them a lot.

I developed a taste for German beer.

I lived with a guy named Rob at first. He was a good guy though a little temperamental about cleaning the bathroom. Rob was getting his PhD in psychology. He worked at the maximum security mental health hospital, with murderers, psychopaths, and rapists. That isn't important but it's interesting. Rob brought me to clubs and showed me around town. He introduced me to his friends.

I got a place of my own in Kreuzberg, which is a cool part of town. It's by a bridge where lots of people sit around and drink. It's relaxing. All of Berlin is pretty relaxing.

In a few days I'll be moving into a new place. Unfurnished. I am starting a new life here. I don't know how long I'll stay. Maybe a couple more years. Maybe forever.

My heart doesn't hammer in my chest anymore. Not often, anyway. And I don't think about death so much. I still think I'm not an adult, that I'm not a fully competent person... but I sure as hell don't feel like a teenager or even like a 20-something any more. So I'm learning how to be an adult day be day. And I don't know what the future will bring but for the first time in a while I think I'm not too afraid of it. I think it might even be fun.

< Eureka! | Grandma >
It's been two years since I wrote | 37 comments (37 topical, 0 hidden)
Banging any German chicks? by atreides (4.00 / 4) #1 Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 06:31:42 PM EST
Just askin'...

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

Heh, I thought of looking you up in April. by ambrosen (4.00 / 3) #2 Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 06:32:28 PM EST
I was in Berlin for a long weekend for a friend's wedding. Would have been cool. But I was super-mega busy.

I can completely say that Berlin's great, though. I just felt at home the minute I got there. Possibly because I had a few great holidays in Germany when I was a student and hadn't been back. But yeah, lovely place. Good to do the right thing with your life, too.

I think I'm in the right place now, too. 5th most desirable city in the UK, according to a poll. But my bad 5 years were the 5 years after I left the number 1 most desirable city.

Shite attitudes, but fuck like beasts. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #11 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 06:53:59 AM EST
God, I miss Berlin.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Mon Cheri in Charlottenburg and by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 07:19:04 PM EST
Big Sexyland - are they still in business?

Also, I started smoking at 27 in Berlin, so I'm getting a kick out of this story. There's just something cool about Berlin which encourages smoking. I blame Marlene Dietrich.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Charlottenburg? by 606 (4.00 / 2) #23 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 07:15:00 PM EST
Who goes to Charlottenberg? I'm a Kreuzberger all the way. East side, yo.

Big Sexy Land is still in operation. Haven't been. Haven't been to any risqué clubs, actually. Figure that'll be a pretty intense experience when I go.

Dude, EVERYBODY smokes in Berlin. All the Goddamn time. I haven't had a smoke since I've been here because I know I don't need it... but damn it's so easy to bum a smoke if I want one. Must stay strong.

imagine dancing banana here

[ Parent ]
Mon Cheri: Come for the burlesque act . . . by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #29 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 10:18:28 PM EST
stay for the Audience Participation*All-nude, Two-girl, On-stage, Hot-tub Show.

*Hell yeah, I did.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
i missed you too. by misslake (4.00 / 5) #4 Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 07:52:18 PM EST
i need you address.
i want to write.

Mein Addresse by 606 (4.00 / 1) #21 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 07:05:40 PM EST
Herr. Mike Verdone
Sorauer Straße 6
10997 Berlin

Your letters will be welcomed with much joy.

Please note that I'll be back in Calgary for most of August, so I may not read your letter for a while if it arrives during that period.

Also, please note that you have to use my real name or else it won't go into the right mailbox. No "Herr. 606".

imagine dancing banana here

[ Parent ]
hahaha! by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #28 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 10:12:14 PM EST
"We're the Verdones, and we're looking for sechs."

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
And here I am.... by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #36 Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 07:00:42 AM EST
... worrying about not leaving any private information anywhere in the intarweb.

Bye Mike.

[ Parent ]
+1FP, written by 606. by Driusan (4.00 / 4) #5 Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 08:13:15 PM EST

Vive le Montréal libre.
agreed by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 3) #12 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 11:13:05 AM EST

if de-virgination results in me being able to birth hammerhead sharks, SIGN ME UP!!! --misslake
[ Parent ]
I'm glad you're doing well! by R343L (4.00 / 2) #6 Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 08:27:56 PM EST
And wish I'd been a better person and visited you more too, but I too had big stuff happening.

I hope you'll come to Seattle or Vancouver sometime so I can see you again. Or really I (we) should go to Berlin.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

You are welcome to visit me in Berlin by 606 (2.00 / 0) #24 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 07:16:57 PM EST
I've had lots of friends come visit, and it's always fun when they're in town. I'm turning into quite a proficient tour guide.

imagine dancing banana here
[ Parent ]
Glad to hear you're doing well. by ana (4.00 / 1) #7 Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 08:33:13 PM EST
Reinventing yourself is a wonderful thing.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

good to hear from ya by clover kicker (4.00 / 2) #8 Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 10:16:58 PM EST
and best wishes with the reboot.

Thank you for the diary by johnny (4.00 / 1) #9 Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 11:42:44 PM EST
It isn't important, but it's interesting.

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)
max security psyche ward ? by sasquatchan (4.00 / 2) #14 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 01:35:55 PM EST
Does he know Mrs. bad doggie?

Unsecured. by sugar spun (2.00 / 0) #33 Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 05:28:29 PM EST
I work next door to the secure unit but everyone I see is a herbivorous sort of crazy. Sometimes I wish I worked with the bull goose loonies, but mostly the sad rather than bad or mad ones are work enough for me.

It's a relatively small field, though. What's the guy's area?

[ Parent ]
Lovely germans by littlestar (4.00 / 2) #15 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 02:07:43 PM EST
aren't they? I'm so that you were able to improve your life in such a big way. Good for you! It sounds way funner now too; I"m so glad you wrote to let us know, I had been wondering how things were going for you there, I'm so glad it's so well. And, you got to find out that your brave! Woot! Please write more often and let us know how things proceed, we miss you too.

Thanks by 606 (2.00 / 0) #25 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 07:20:35 PM EST
This is a big one: "you got to find out that your brave". I didn't think I could ever move to a different country.. away from everybody... where I don't speak the language. I never thought of myself as brave but a lot of people say that I am.

I dunno, I just figured I had to do it. It was a good opportunity.

Thanks for the kind words.

There's more of my blathering on my blog thing: But I'll try and post here too.

imagine dancing banana here

[ Parent ]
rockin' by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #16 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 09:28:23 PM EST

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

A+, Mega-Awesome! by clock (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 08:13:20 AM EST
great stuff!  do drop by a little more often, eh?

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

good to hear from you by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #18 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 08:53:34 AM EST
glad things are gong much better

and congratulations for that act of courage which changed your life.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

It's Good to Hear the Sound of your Keyboard by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 3) #19 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 10:20:17 AM EST
 I very much enjoyed consuming your diary (which isn't important but it's...well, it's what just occurred to me).  It reminds me of how you're like.  Oh yeah -- that guy.  He was a dear fellow, wasn't he? and so on.  I remember when littlestar briefly lived in Edmonton.  Winter was unholy long.  I think anyone except a moose would prefer Berlin, and probably the moose would as well.  Meese like boor, after all.

(I'm supposed to be working.  If anyone asks, that's what I'm doing.  Whee, look at that logo fly.)

Glad for the report, chum.  I'll drink a non-German beer to your further adventures as soon as it's noon.

Science-fiction wallah, storytelling gorilla, man wearing a hat: Cheeseburger Brown.
Good to hear from you too by 606 (4.00 / 1) #26 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 07:29:32 PM EST
When I left I leant out all your books (my books written by you I mean) to friends since I couldn't take them with me. Glowing reviews across the board! I need to order some new copies for here: there's a lot of sci-fi buffs at work who I'm certain'll dig them.

Berlin is freaky humid this year which is bad for weather. Berlin at -10 seemed worse than Calgary at -30. Spring came and went in a blink and now we're in a heat wave of 35+ C temperatures and humid as hell. I drink water non-stop and don't have to pee. It leaches from my pores all day!

imagine dancing banana here

[ Parent ]
Berlin? by ReallyEvilCanine (4.00 / 3) #20 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 11:47:44 AM EST
Meh. Give a holler if you're down in Bavaria some time. Glad shit's working out better.

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

Front page?! by 606 (4.00 / 1) #22 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 07:06:19 PM EST
You guys... thanks so much!

imagine dancing banana here
you're welcome (nt) by Driusan (4.00 / 1) #27 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 08:42:57 PM EST

Vive le Montréal libre.
[ Parent ]
Congrats by duxup (4.00 / 1) #30 Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 03:43:54 PM EST

That is superb. by Phage (4.00 / 2) #31 Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 06:04:31 AM EST
Owning almost nothing is....liberating. Please keep us posted.
How much of a barrier was the language ?

A lot of good has happened. by muchagecko (4.00 / 2) #32 Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 12:19:27 PM EST
I feel proud/happy for you. You have always been someone amazing. It finally feels like your life matches you.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
My Name is Earl

panic attacks by fleece (4.00 / 3) #34 Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 09:13:09 AM EST
the symptoms are boring on paper but terrifying to experience. The confusion about what is happening to you makes it 10 times worse, thinking you're going crazy or that you're going to pass out and die, etc

hate (panic attacks) by skippy (2.00 / 0) #38 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 08:13:44 PM EST
 That is exactly what I thought when reading it, too.  Panic/anxiety attacks may make you feel like you're having a heart attack.  First time I had one, thought I was going to ... yeah, pass out and die.  After a few times, one can sometimes learn to catch the feeling early and prevent it from blowing up into an attack.

[ Parent ]
Great story by okabashi (2.00 / 0) #35 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 02:18:38 PM EST
Glad you choose you. Corporate Bull can kill one's soul. Your story is much more interesting than that Eat Pray Love story. 

Myself by Phil Urich (2.00 / 0) #37 Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 04:56:00 AM EST
though just an incidental character mentioned briefly on a single page, so to speak, I feel like mentioning I still live in Edmonton. Only met you the briefest of times, but it's always nice to hear years later that the people we pass by momentarily in life go off to good things.

What a great diary! by moonvine (2.00 / 0) #39 Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 05:24:35 PM EST
Thanks for the updates. I love how all things become more beautiful and poignant when simplicity in part of the package...

It's been two years since I wrote | 37 comments (37 topical, 0 hidden)