Anthropology 284 on Prezi
The full journal entries follow below:
My name is Maria and I am a 14 year old girl. I go to Ernst Thalmann Schule. My teacher, Frau Maaz, has given us an assignment to practice our writing skills. She gave us journals in which we have to record information about the things we see and do for the next 8 weeks. I am nervous to write in a diary because it’s not really common to do so. Not many people like to write down their private thoughts; someone could always come along and read them. I’m going to do it anyway because my teacher says so. She’s interesting. According to my mama, Frau Maaz’s husband gives talks in the west about faults of the GDR and I can tell that she is really influenced by him because she talks about it too.
I guess I should introduce myself more. I live in the town of Oberhohndorf, Germany. I like living in Oberhohndorf because it is a rural town, though that does mean it can get boring. It’s reasonably quiet and everyone in the community seems to get along. We don’t have a lot of land but we don’t have too little. I’d say that, in comparison to my friends, we have an average amount. Oberhohndorf is in East Germany, near Zwickau, which is the big city where my father works for the financial office of the big Trabant factory. My mama works at the same school that I attend. That’s why she knows so much about my teacher. I also have a brother named Erik. He’s older than me by 4 years and he is very smart. He just recently started to work as a mechanic at the same place as my dad. He really likes it and tells me how the work is not so hard. He also tells me a lot about the Trabant cars and how they are easy to fix because they are all made in the same simple way. However, it doesn’t seem like he actually does much mechanical work when he is on the job. He always tells me what he gets up to in his leisure time at work and by the amount of stories he has, I can only assume he has lots of leisure time.
I get along with everyone in my household and I really don’t have much to complain about except for the fact that my dad works long hours and I never really see him. My parents have both explained to me that the cost of living is steadily increasing and I can see that that is true. I can tell because mama has been careful to buy Moccafix Gold for herself and father and Vito Cola for me and Erik when they’re cheap. These “problems” aren’t really a big deal. I can’t really complain because it isn’t like we ever go hungry.
School can be fun, though stressful, as we’re all meant to get very good grades, and always get along with everyone, and it isn’t ever very exciting. However, I mentioned that my teacher is really strange. She teaches differently than Erik was taught when he was in my grade. We were learning about how to write proper poems the other day. She then proceeded to write a haiku about the end of Socialism. Erik just remembered writing haikus about something simple like the weather or the pretty flowers. Academically, at least with Frau Maaz, things are interesting.
I love being around my friends Alina, Andrea, Alex, Michael, and Henrik at school but my favorite part of the day is when I get to be with my best friend Marta. She lives almost inside the city because her father is a member of the Party. Because of his high social connections, he gets a lot more things than my family gets. The Heinbauchs have more land so it’s more fun for Marta and I to run around outside in the yard. Inside, they also have bigger, prettier furniture and softer, more colorful blankets. I can always tell that they are better off than me and my family because I often see Marta’s mother wearing blue jeans around the house, as if it were no big deal. The Heinbauch family is so different than mine and I love going to her house because I feel like it’s more exciting there.
I know I said earlier how I can’t complain about my lifestyle because I have everything I need but now that I wrote this all down about Marta’s living conditions, I suppose I’m a little jealous and I hope someday in the future I’ll have what she has. But then again, I’m very happy with what I have already and I’m content with my life. Well, I guess we’ll just see where life takes me.
Today something happened. I went over to Marta’s house after school and Young Pioneers. We were trying to remember the words to Wir Haben Alles im Kreis Aufgestelt when we were walking to her house but we could only remember around a quarter of the words, ‘cause we haven’t really sung it since we were in kindergarten. We were in very musical moods, so we just switched to Heute hat Geburtstag Unsere Republik, even though it obviously was not the GDR’s geburtstag. We got some strange looks from passers-by, though a very approving glance from some guy in a parked Trabi outside of Marta’s house.
When we walked into the front hallway of the flat there were a few grown-ups standing around, having some sort of meeting or talk or something with Marta’s father. I think they all stopped speaking right as we walked in, but there were big plates of sandwiches and lebekuchen on the coffee table for them, and we got some, so that was nice. In any case, we figured they were talking about Stasi business (so we were obviously immediately very curious), so when we went to Marta’s room we decided to listen at the door to see what they were talking about. Marta’s dad works for the Stasi. I’m not sure what he does, but the Stasi are interesting. I think they might know everything. Marta says her dad knows everything about everyone, she says he listens to what everyone says. She says he listens to all the recordings the Stasi make, from all of the houses they record things from. Which could be any and all of them. Yeah, Marta may have a bit too high of an opinion of her dad. He isn’t too terribly high up in terms of rank, so I don’t think he knows everything. Still, the adults in Marta’s living room certainly knew way more than us.
So they were talking about Frau Maaz, our history teacher! The one who told us to write these journals, actually. They think she’s a spy or at least a sub-versive citizen. Not sure what to think of that. I mean, she’s certainly not the most patriotic of our teachers. Actually, most, if not all, of the rest of them are members of the Party, and a little too enthusiastic with their patriotism, if you ask me. I mean, come on, not everything relates to the greatness of our state. Algebra? I’m pretty sure citizens of the GDR did not invent it. Or maybe they did . . . I don’t know. I mean, it is pretty much what we’ve been taught. But when my parents get our television to play Western programs, I’m not so sure our country is as great as everyone says it is. And by everyone, I mean people who’re in the party. Because I feel like, more and more, other people aren’t saying such great things about the GDR.
The men kept talking. They seemed very intent on what Frau Maaz was teaching and connecting it to her husband and his visits to the west. I wish I could go to the west. I would die to have some Skippy’s peanut butter. Alex had some at lunch and he let me try it. So sweet! Or have my own pair of blue jeans, maybe even two pair! I could watch movies that have nothing to do with socialist ideals . . . which are drab and boring, honestly. Who is really going to be that invested in the plot lines with the people’s hero winning the day by doing everyday things? No one. No one that I know, anyway. Except maybe Marta’s dad.
We stopped listening after a while. It got kind of scary, honestly. They weren’t yelling, they were talking calmly, only what they were saying was creepy and scary. They were talking about Frau Maaz and Dr. Maaz and how they might be fleeing the country or planning a rebellion by corrupting her students. Her students are us. I don’t feel very corrupted. But they were being very serious about it.
I was really curious about what was going on with it all, but Marta didn’t want to talk about it, so we just chatted about football and the world cup and who was the best at which sport at school. We think Alex is the best player, but Henrik is faster, and Michael is stronger. And of the girls, Marta and Alina are both fast and skillfull with the ball, but Andrea is stronger and I can run for longer.
Sports are really important and something we should focus on, according to the teachers. Well, sports and Jung Pioniere and our school work. And of course, loyalty to the party and the state. Man, they never let up on that. It gets really annoying. But we only ever complain about it in private, in Marta’s room when I come over, or at my family’s dacha, out in the middle of nowhere in the countryside. Sometimes I complain about it to Mama. She always laughs and smiles and then reminds me to not talk about it in town or at school. Sometimes I know all the complaining we do and all the time we spend making fun of the government and their ridiculous and controlling focus- I know it makes Marta uncomfortable. Probably because of her parents. Her mother’s a little over-enthusiastic as well. Frau Maaz said something in class a few days ago about how all the “state propaganda”, as she calls it, was much . . . pushier when our parents were growing up. It was much scarier back then- I’ve asked mama about it and she’s told me a little bit. Not much though, she doesn’t like to talk about it. And father is pretty quiet about it all, as always. I know he knows more than he lets on, but he never talks about it, at least not with us kids. I’ve heard him and Mama talking so many times after they’ve sent Erik and I to bed. I bet they talk about politics, I’ve heard Hohnicker’s name before, when he became the party leader. I don’t know though.
Anyway, Marta and I got totally distracted with our own conversation, but when I was on the bus, going home for dinner, I remembered, so I asked Father about it after we’d all sat down our dinner of soljanke. He pretty much didn’t answer the question, just told me not to worry about it and he was sure it was nothing- only he and Mama looked at each other weirdly and Erik raised his eyebrows at me and them. He’s always doing that. But there was definitely something going on, I could tell. It’s always much easier to get anything out of Erik than out of either Mama or Father, so I went to his room when dinner was over. He was sitting at his desk, doodling some kind of western car. It looked like it would go a lot faster than a Trabi. In any case, I asked him about it again. He got this annoying knowing look on his face, but then he got all serious. ‘Asked me about Frau Maaz and what she taught us and then was like, “The Stasi’ll be coming for her, and likely her husband too if that’s where she’s getting it all from. Marta’s dad is going to put her in prison, make her disappear. She’ll be gone soon.” I’m not sure whether to believe him. I don’t want it to be true, but still . . . the amount of time Frau Maaz spends talking about the west . . . it is a lot . . . Gotta go to sleep now though.
I’ve kept asking Marta all week if she’s heard anything else from her dad, if he’s been having meetings in the house, if she’d overheard anything more.
I’ve been thinking about it, and I thought at first that Frau Maaz might be getting in trouble for assigning us our diaries. She did say we should be careful about letting certain people know, and I thought- I was afraid -maybe Marta had told her dad. Marta’s sure she’s going to work for the Stasi too when she grows up- her father’s always telling her she should. Not surprisingly they have trust issues inside the Stasi- I mean, I think their main point is that they don’t trust anyone- so being related to other people working for the Stasi makes you a more trustworthy employee. And I know the Stasi hasn’t been so successful at recruiting. According to Marta and her father, at least. But she hadn’t been tattling, or at least we didn’t hear them mention our assignment specifically Which, I suppose, doesn’t mean they didn’t talk about it. I do think Marta has been telling some things to her dad about Frau Maaz though. That, or they had the classroom bugged. Though Marta must have contributed something, because we have class outside sometimes, and that’s when Frau Maaz tends to tell us the most about the west, and what’s wrong with the GDR. She always tells us to be quiet about it though. What’s the point in knowing then? I don’t know. It is interesting though. Besides the freedoms we know the west has that we don’t- like rights to speak our minds about whatever we want to talk about (I’ve always been taught never to talk about politics especially, or ever anything bad about the state or the party. Or anything bad at all, really). She’s told us about how the government and the party actually stifles us, our individuality and creativity . . . they’re all her husband’s theories. He’s a doctor, a psychologist, Dr. Maaz. He does go to lots of conferences in the west, so I suppose it’s no wonder they’re interested/suspicious about her.
Marta says she hasn’t heard anything yet, but Frau Maaz didn’t come to school today and she wasn’t there yesterday or the day before that either. I was hoping she was just sick or something, but today her classes were assigned to a permanent replacement. A Polish man, Herr Walzak. He’s bald, and he has a funny mustache, and his German is very accented. Marta can imitate it perfectly, she makes me laugh so much when she does it!
We’ve been discussing where Frau Maaz might be though. I think Erik was right. Marta’s not as positive, but I know Dr. Maaz is missing too. Mama has friends who go to see him, and she said something about how one of them could come have coffee because her appointment was cancelled, because Dr. Maaz wasn’t in the office. I bet they’re both gone, either fled to the West or the Stasi have them stashed away somewhere, in some prison. What a frightening thought, of Frau Maaz locked away. She always liked being outside so much more than being in our classroom. She’d be miserable in prison, what if she doesn’t even have a window? How awful.
I actually finally got Marta to actually just ask her father about Frau Maaz herself. She hates to bring up anything that might make him mad or suspicious of her, but I was so curious, we both were . . . anyway, I went over to her house and I convinced her on the way there, so she asked as soon as he got home- but he didn’t even really answer! I was so sure we’d know what had happened if we asked him. All he did was frown and shake his head. I was trying to be quiet and inconspicuous in the corner of the room, but he talked to both of us. Told us that we should forget about her and whatever she’d been teaching us. That she was a detriment to our great socialist state and that she was poisoning the minds of us and our friends and that sort of behavior came with consequences. Then he told us to not worry about it and to run along and play. Of course, we obviously spent the next hour and a half talking about what exactly he meant by it all and what it meant for Frau Maaz and her husband. We shall see. Or at least I hope we will.
Today started out totally normal but definitely kept on getting stranger. This morning Mama woke me up early so I could finish up my presentation for class. My new teacher is making all of us pick a different aspect of our school that we like and show how it reflects the great power of our party. Mama thought it would be nice to make my presentation on Ernst Thalmann because that is who our school is named after. Actually, I found out that all the schools my friends go to are named after people just like him. I thought this was at first pretty boring but it turns out he actually accomplished a bunch of cool things before he died. Mr. Thalmann was born in Germany just like me but he has done so much more for our party than I have. This morning Mama told me in a couple of years I can become a teacher if I’d like and I guess I would end up teaching more children about the party. Ernst Thalmann was in the German Army and fought during the First World War right on the Western Front. He then became a member of the Independent Socialist Party. After all of that he went on to lead the Communist Party of Germany, which my teacher told us was also called the KPD. Father brought me home a big red poster to put pictures on and write on and bring to class for my presentation. It was really heavy, but totally worth it. The really sad thing is though, that I never even got to finish my presentation. That was when my day started getting really weird.
I had to go to the principle at lunchtime because Mama called and wanted me home. I don’t know how she could have known everyone would be going so crazy. Not even the principle knew. I wonder if Father knew. I bet he did, he tends to always know where to get things and who to ask questions and what the articles are going to say in the paper. Everything is just so unclear right now. Marta also went home early today. When I passed her in the hallway she was walking with her parents. They are always very proper but today they seemed extra uptight. When I overheard everyone talking about the wall and saying the wall fell and how everyone is going over to see and whether they think it’s true or not, all I could think about was when Frau Maaz told us that the wall might be up for another 100 years. She told us that Erich Hohnecker said in October that it would take 50 to 100 years for it to come down. It definitely has not been 100 years as I am still in school. It hasn’t even been a year. Frau Maaz was always talking about the west . . . she made it sound so nice with all the cool things there were, oh and she once talked about all the different magazines. And she once brought us a picture of what the kids get to wear to school in the west, it was so awesome. But this whole thing with the wall falling down is so weird. I went home with Mama from the principles office and Father was home. He was on the phone though talking with our neighbor about something, I’m not really sure what.
Later at night Mama came in to talk to me and Erik. I know she did her best to simplify what is going on but I think it confused me more. I understand that yes, the wall has fallen. But what does that mean? Is everything going to be different at school tomorrow? I’ll probably ask Father if I can call Marta after I finish this journal. I hope her parents explained to her a little better what this all means. And I’ll go to Erik’s room later and see what he says. He’s much better than Mama at explaining things. Yup, that’s what I’m going to do.
It’s been about a week since the wall has fallen, people around Oberhohndorf have been talking about it all week, but no one seems to know what is going to happen next. About two days ago the Rundfunk der DDR made its last official broadcast, we gathered around the living room and all sat together to hear Klaus Ackermann, host of Aktuelle Kamera, announce that due to reunification they have changed their name to Ostdeutscher Rundfunk Brandenburg or ORB. Brother tells me that things will be a lot different from now on but for me nothing much has changed. I still go to the same school and mother still works there, Erik still works at the Trabant factory- although he keeps coming home with more of his stories so I’m guessing work must be slow. The only thing that has changed is that I don’t think there are party meetings anymore, according to Marta. Also, father has been home all week which makes me really happy because before I only got see him late at night. Although it seems he has been sad lately, mother says he is just taking a break from work. When I asked my brother yesterday, he told me that the company has been laying off a lot of workers since the wall fell and because my dad was in the financial department, he was one of the first to go. He told me that it was probably due to the lack of business, now that western cars are being sold in the east. Erik also says that father has been searching for other jobs, but because the Trabant factory was the largest employer in the area and that he was one among many other displaced workers, it is particularly difficult to find a job. Herr Walzak explained to us that a capitalist economy is dramatically different then a socialist, making jobs like my father’s old job all but obsolete. Every night since my father has sat in front of the TV watching the DFF while drinking Wernesgruener beer, but tonight will be different. He has an interview for a job in the city; I just know he will get it!
On Wednesday, after class, I saw a big red poster that read “Coca-Cola” being pasted over what was a party poster of Hohnecker. When I got home I asked brother about it and he said it was much better than Vito, he said that there was a large truck full of them in the factory and that the he will try to bring me one, but I think he forgot because I still have not tried it. Frau Maaz told us posters like that one are all over the city in the West and perhaps soon more of them will come to the east. There is just so much more I want to learn about the West. Alex told me that his parents let him watch TV from the West in his house, but only on clear sunny days. I hope my parents will let me watch western television soon.
For a while now I have wanted to go visit Marta, I want to hear what she knows about what’s going on. Her family always had things from the West long before the wall fell, so I suppose she’s more used to all of this. Yesterday my Mama surprised me by agreeing that next week we could going to go shopping in the city and that she was going to buy me a pair of blue jeans just like the once Marta’s mother wears. I’m really excited. I’ve always wanted a pair, but father used to tell me that we were not allowed to get them, that they were expensive and didn’t “send out a good message”. But I asked him today if he was okay with me getting a pair and he smiled and said yes. So I guess things are slowly changing. But I can’t wait to see Marta!
This week I went to see Marta in Zwickau. I had so much fun seeing her and her family. Mama and I took the train into the city, we went to Wildenfelser station and 20 minutes later arrived at Humboldtstraße station. Our ride took us through several small town s like Reinsdorf and Eckersbach, it seemed as if the closer we got to the city the more things started to change. More of the “Coca-Cola” posters started to pop up on billboards and buildings, there were others too; “levies”, “converse”, and “Volkswagen VW” and others that I can’t remember. The ride was much brighter and more colorful that usual! I’ve never seen anything like it before, but my favorite was the “Coca-Cola” and its bright red. Though I couldn’t stop staring at the Levi jeans and thinking about how I would soon own a pair. There were a lot of funny looking cars around too, they did not look anything like the Trabis Erik works on; more like the cars he doodles in his room. My mother pointed out some that she told me were “BMW’s”- they were all cars from the west. Throughout the whole ride into the city my face was glued to the window, and it seemed everyone else in the train was doing the same thing, mesmerized by all the new western things.
Once we got into Zwickau we went shopping, though I would have rather seen Marta first, honestly. I was anxious for the whole time to talk to her. We needed to buy things though. We went into a store to get groceries for dinner tonight with Marta’s family. On our way to the checkout I couldn’t help but stare at the rack of Coca-Cola bottles. Mama saw how I was obsessing over the bottles and asked the cashier if she could also include a bottle of Coca-Cola. The casher handed my mom a bottle opener, and I had my first Coca-Cola! It was delicious, and gone in roughly five minutes, even though Mama kept telling me slow down.
Everyone in the city looked so different. A lot of them wore blue jeans and funny looking shoes that had big stars on them. We walked around for a bit, but I decided to forego buying my blue jeans in favor of getting to Marta sooner, so we were soon headed for the Hinebauch’s house. On the way we saw a lot of posters on the buildings, and big bright words spelled out in a paint Mama said was called graphite. I thought it made the buildings look pretty. We finally got to Marta house; she was so excited to see me. I greeted her parents but we escaped quickly into Marta’s room. We talked for the rest of the day about school, the city, all the western things we could now buy, and about our friends. I also told her about my brother’s new factory stories and about how he’d be jealous of all the cars we saw on our way into the city. Though I suppose he’s been seeing them every day on his way to work. We also talked about my father losing his job and how he’s looking for a new job in the city. She also told me about her family how her dad has been home a lot since he was part of Stasi and they’re not really working anymore. Everything the Stasi fought to control and restrain us from is all out in the open now. People can go to and from the west without being imprisoned or waiting years for visas . . . I wonder what her father will do now. And Marta’s mother, who still works as a nurse, has to work longer hours now.
Eventually Mama came in and told us dinner was ready. At the dinner table Mrs Hinebauch and Mama where continuing a similar discussion about our families. Mr. Hinebauch sort of just sat there, all morose and quiet. Maybe he’s angry that the Stasi now have nothing to do. After dinner we ended up watching fussbal on TV. Marta and I sat on the floor to watch; a lot of the Hinebauch’s furniture is gone now . . . I guess it has something to do with her dad losing his job. I slept over in Marta’s room, though Mama went back Home after the game ended.
The next morning Marta took me for a walk around the city. We went to Schwanenteich Park where we played around in the playground, and then bought some ice cream. On our way back we passed the building where her dad worked, near the party headquarters. It was closed but in front of the building stood a large statue of Vladimir Lenin. The building was practically covered in graphite. We finally got back, and for a while watched TV. There was some strange report about controversy over traffic lights, and the east versus the western version of the ‘okay to cross’ walking man light. East Berlin was apparently up in arms over the westernization of their traffic lights, especially one in Potsdamer Platz, wherever that is. I don’t know, I remember some of the traffic safety songs we were taught in kindergarten, about the Ampel-mannchen and crossing the street responsibly . . . It all seemed a bit strange to me, but it was really crazy to watch the footage they kept replaying, of a week ago in Berlin, at night, when the wall had just been opened. People were walking all over the streets, hugging each other, shouting, and flooding through the checkpoints, with the border guards stamping any and every bit of paper offered, completely over-whelmed by all the people clamoring to cross into the west.
We did have to say goodbye eventually. I had a lot of fun visiting Marta and I hope I can do it again soon. When I got back I told my brother all about my trip and told him to make sure and bring me another Coca Cola, because they are absolutely delicious.
Erik has been talking a lot to me lately and from the conversations we’ve had, I can tell that he is really changing. I can’t tell if it’s for the better or for the worse, but I know that he is changing. This could be because he just met this new girl. She’s blonde and always wears tight jeans with the name Levi on the tag. Not only is he extremely into her but he is extremely into her western “culture.” He is acting really foolish I think, pretending to know everything about the west just to impress her. He learns a lot from her to begin with but now he is hanging out with her friends and new people and talking to them about the west. I think he’s only going to ask her out once he finds out all the information he can…and he wants to know a lot.
She seems nice but I think this girl is rubbing off on him so much that Erik is even thinking about moving to the west. I really don’t want him to leave me because I’ll miss him too much. But at the same time, I want him to be happy. He has been talking to me recently about his interest in working in the west as a mechanic. He likes working at father’s old factory but he would much rather work in a western factory. He keeps talking about BMWs and how much faster and more complicated and interesting they are than the Trabis he works on now. Erik is really sick of the Trabant cars. He calls them “old-fashioned” but I think it’s just that they aren’t popular now. Everyone has one but wants something else, and that is definitely part of why Erik dislikes them so much.
I didn’t really change his mind when I told him that last week Henrik and his family got into an automobile accident. They are alright now but I know at least Henrik got hurt because her came to class with a broken arm after missing a couple days. I’ve learned a lot about Trabant cars from Erik. They’re made of used steel and Duroplast (a type of plastic) and Erik’s told me that this is why the cars are so cheap. However, he also tells me that we should be careful because they aren’t at all safe in a car accident. That’s probably some of why Henrik got hurt. His family is getting a new car now, the Trabant 601 Universal with a sliding roof.
The 601 Universal did not impress Erik. He is all about these Western cars. He is more concerned about building cars for speed and power and using expensive, better materials rather than the cheap materials he currently works with. I wonder how he knows so much about these cars. He’s told me that he knows all about them because he overhears it. I can only assume that he’s been eavesdropping on someone at work, because I do know that people from other companies have been touring the factory recently. Maybe they’re trying to buy the factory. Maybe, they work for BMW and are touring to steal ideas. In that case, it may be a good thing for Erik to work for them because the Trabant company is now subject to the whims of capitalism, which means it will go bankrupt if people continue to prefer the cars from all the new companies from the west. So weird.
When I think of bankruptcy, I think of father. He didn’t lose the job because the company was bankrupt but the company did lose money. Erik and I agree that it is very strange, and fairly wrong-feeling for Erik to be working and for father to not be working. Yesterday at dinner Erik was talking about the west and actually suggested that we all move there so father has a better change for job opportunities. That did not go over well; Mama and Father are very attached to our home, and I am as well.
Erik is starting to sound like a broken record with this whole western thing. He keeps looking for other opportunities and options because he doesn’t want to stay in the HQM Sachsenring Trabant factory anymore. I’m starting to believe that Erik not only dislikes the structure of the cars, but he also dislikes the work. He would definitely much rather work in the west. He seems to be really into doing things faster and in the west, they must be fast workers to produce so many different things. People also have to think more about what to buy- so many choices! I mean, I go to the store with mama and I see hundreds of the different products and they were just put out on the shelves today. How could one company possibly make so many things at once? But it isn’t just one company, its many, many companies, all trying to get people to buy different variations of the same basic thing. I guess Erik is so obsessed and fascinated with the west because of all the options there, all of the pretty different things, so different than the plainness we grew up with . . .
So today is technically the last day I have to write in this. I’m not sure what I want to put in my last journal entry, or really if I even want this to be my last. When Frau Maaz assigned this project it was because she thought writing down our ideas would help us better understand our country and the tricky ways that it worked. She always mentioned how it was up to us and that if we never asked, no one would ever tell. Well I’m asking now and I still don’t understand a ton. Everything from how overnight so many items end up on the grocery shelves all from so many different companies to why my father can’t get a job when my brother is applying for one in the biggest, newest car factory . . . It was just three days ago that Erik found out he got asked back for an interview. He says that being asked in for an interview is just the first step, and that the interview proves everything to the boss about whether or not he is right for the job. Two years ago when Father was trying to find him a job it didn’t matter whether or not he wore a suit or just a shirt and tie to an interview. What mattered was who Father knew and where there were open positions. And now Erik has to make himself look perfect, and has a fine shot at getting a job, even though he knows not a single person in this new company. I do think this method is better though. It just seems to make more sense. How were father’s friends supposed to know if Erik was right for the job just by what my Father told them? But then again, how can any employer know that the person they are interviewing is not lying? They have no one to trust such a situation. In an interview session, I guess it is just the two of them, and they also probably have never seen each other before there was a job opening. I just don’t get how it all works, how people depend on either system. I used to go to the store with Mama and wait on line to receive our bread and milk for breakfast the next morning, but now we only have to go shopping every two weeks because we buy in bulk, as much as we want- or can afford –in one trip, and with so many new foods to choose from.
For the past three nights I have been woken up by loud banging next door. Erik says the neighbors are moving but he won’t tell me exactly why. All he says is that there are more opportunities for them in the west, but when I ask why we are not moving for the same opportunities he gets quiet. He never lies to me, which is why I know something is wrong when he is silent. Perhaps just is very jealous of the neighbors. He has been really different ever since Father lost his job at the factory and he kept his. Last week he was telling me it was because he was younger and that with new western management coming in they want new brains to get things done the way they want. Father held a higher position in the factory working not on the assembly line like Erik but at the desks with the boring finances. Erik said that it is his experience that is now getting him in trouble when it used to help him. Do people in the west not like experienced workers? My father is really good with numbers, and at negotiating and planning. I don’t see why any of these skills could be turned against him. When Erik explained it he started getting frustrated at me when I kept asking him more questions, and he eventually went off to his own room and went to sleep. I’m starting to doubt what Frau Maaz said. So far this whole asking whatever I question thing is not going so well, nor has reunification made life suddenly so much more wonderful than it was before. Anyway, what does she know, technically she left us, she is the one who told me to question and who told me to think for myself and she got up and left. Is that what my choices are, to leave and escape to the west or be bombarded with new things every day and never know when or why? I suppose I will get used to them eventually but still . . .
I don’t think I will hand this in to our new teacher. If he asks for our journals I’ll just make another one to hand in. This one is for me and I think I’ll keep writing in it. If this new system is anything like the old one it will be nice to have my own records. Ones that I will keep as a reminder, or maybe I’ll even show Erik and Mama and Father sometime. We’ll see what happens.