Fünf fetten Jahre

Five years a Berliner. FIVE YEARS! I’m a professional now, an old hand. Young Berliners are coming to me for advice, asking me what it was like in the old days, when it was wild and dangerous and still exciting.
It is still exciting, but there’s no doubt the city’s losing its shine. Those entrusted with its care do not care for it very much. Esteemed leaders everywhere are too esteemed to give a shit about anything but themselves, and Berlin has sold its soul to the devil, allowing its history fade away while pursuing short-term material gain – Tacheles, the East Side Gallery, C/O Berlin, Teufelsberg, Checkpoint Charlie...
But that’s “progress.” Berlin has been deteriorating since I got here and the rot clearly started before.
On a personal level, I feel I have at least made progress by moving here. I’ve gained a lot and lost a lot but certainly gained more.
It’s been exciting, eye opening, invigorating, inspiring, confusing, revealing, frustrating, rousing, infuriating, fucking freezing, happy, sorrowful, good and bad. There have been huge highs and low lows. It has never been boring. For that reason alone I definitely made the right decision to move here.
I’ve met a lot of cool people, though it’s harder to make friendships here than it was in Ireland, where loyalty means you’d walk through fire for someone but you wouldn’t text them if they moved to another country.
I miss Ireland of course, but only friends and family I left behind. The country itself has sadly descended into an even bigger joke now than it was when I left.
The Celtic Tiger was still roaring then, though we know now of course he was only roaring. Now he’s roaring drunk, crying in a bar somewhere asking himself how he believed his own hype. Or maybe he’s gone too – off to Australia or Canada like all the others forced to leave because leaders only looked after themselves.
I’m angry about what’s been done to Ireland, by its own cowboys, the EU cowboys, IMF cowboys, and other cowboys elsewhere. But Ireland is not unique. Moving abroad has thought me there are cowboys everywhere, with the big rancheros in Germany and New York. The West won and now it’s wild all over again.
Jaysus, I was actually in a good mood when I started writing this. Honestly. Five years is something to be celebrated. Five years!
Plans were pretty loose when I left. I’d had enough, just wanted to get the fuck out.
There’s no better feeling in the world than throwing everything in the air and seeing where it all falls. Some of it didn’t fall where I’d like it to have fallen, some of it hasn’t landed yet, and some of fell just right.
Now I’m proud to be a Berliner. I’ll never be German and I reckon the longer Berlin holds out against being German the better too.
Fünf fetten Jahre sind vorbei. Mal sehen wie die nächsten werden.


  1. You speak of so many parallels to my own experience in leaving Canada. Just wanted to get the feck out and see what happens somewhere new. Not everything worked out so great, but the most important things were way more successful than I could even have imagined.

    Now that they have standardised EU permanent visa cards - picked mine up a few months ago - I've received my first official letter from the Grand Poobah of Hamburg inviting me to become German. Like you, that's never going to happen, but HAH! Mr. Mayor sure does try hard. It's actually something to blog about - so I'll just get to that.

    I wish you the best of the next five years as you ford the stormy shoals ahead.

    1. Thanks Ian! I look forward to reading that post!

  2. Congratulations on your five years! Makes you a bit of a youngster though. :)

    Only disagreement is that comment Berlin is not German. Of course it is, it's the most interesting sort of German...

    1. I think part of Berlin's attraction is that it is not like the rest of Germany. I equate all the bad shit with Germany (GEMA, GEZ, the greed that fuels gentrification) and all the good shit with Berlin (freedom, street art fun, excitement). Berlin ain't Germany!

  3. Congratulations on your five year anniversary and making a new life for yourself in Germany.

  4. God, where has the time gone? :) I'm coming up on 5 years too, and have been thinking a lot about what that means and who I've become and where I'm going. Although I hope I never really "become German", I know this place is so much better for me and my future than the US. So here's to 5 years, and cheers to you and many many more!

    1. Cheers Mandi! And congrats to you too! Let's hope the next five don't go so quickly...

  5. Congratulations on your five-year anniversary. I'll have mine during the summer. Couldn't be happier about leaving Ireland, although I reckon I could be happier living somewhere other than Drizzledorf. But even so, it's still a great town to live in and I've made a lot of friends and met some really good people. Hard to have all that and still be sure that I don't really want to be living here (I've given myself until the end of 2014 to have concrete plans for the next stage of my life in place). I do still kind of wish that I'd managed to get that job in Berlin in 2003 and gotten to experience it for real as it was then, though. I hear Leipzig is the new Berlin though, maybe I should add that to my list of potential places to go. :)

    1. I've heard Leipzig is lovely and I really hope it isn't the new Berlin. Have you seen what's been done to the old one?

      If you're still humming and hawing about your decision, you could try moving somewhere for six months. Keep your old apartment, sublet it, and if it doesn't work out you can always move back. I reckon if you think you could be happier somewhere else you probably can be happier somewhere else. That was my thinking in getting the hell out of Ireland. Berlin is great because - though there have been highs and lows like anywhere else - it's never boring.

      Best of luck with it all!


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