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It’s the same feeling, the ugliest side of human beings

27 November 2010

I’ve decided that blogging is actually healthy, perhaps even necessary for mental health. Since I’ve last blogged, it’s been about one year, and, since then, I’ve lost all sense of my personality, my reason for living, my reason for no longer drinking, my reason for working and thinking. It’s two strikes and you’re out.

I’m still in Berlin. I’m still an ex-patriot.

I’ve determined that everything I do and aspire to do is actually meaningless. Meaning less meaningless babble, I suppose, but nonetheless…

But now I feel good! I feel free, I feel open, I feel expansive!! And who could feel like this, except me? Me, with my inconspicuous stature and anonymity? It is a gift that somehow I forgot. And that perhaps now I will capitalize upon.

It’s winter now. Since I’ve last blogged, unfortunately you haven’t been able to experience with me the long, intolerable Berlin winter. And my camera no longer works. So you’ll just have to believe me that it’s cold, snowy, dark and longer than death. But right now Christmas is coming, so there is still some hope for the year’s end.

I remember that when I lived in Batten, when I lived on the second floor (the second American floor, that is the floor above the ground floor), and I lived in a big room with two windows, Kathy lived right next to me. She said that she used to hear me typing really loudly! I guess because I had a normal desktop computer and she had a laptop, my typing sounded so loud and commanding to her, through the wall. She said she always heard me through the wall, imagining that I was completing a very important assignment, in a very self-assured and even violent manner.

But my assignments were always completed as a scared little animal.

So perhaps I should live now as if I command all future events! AT LEAST IF I SOUND LIKE I AM COMMANDING THE FUTURE EVERYONE ELSE WILL BELIEVE THAT I AM. AND THEN I WILL. Because unfortunately reality does not matter as much as perception. If there even is such a thing as reality… this is something that I’ve contemplated lately.

My wedding ring is much too loose for my finger. But it’s really very beautiful. And heavy.

Werrrnuh Werrrrnuh

28 November 2009

The great thing about ambulances in Berlin is that they only sound their sirens when they have to…

She wore reeeeeeed verlet... red was velvet as the night...

Look at me baby!!!

Systemic Systematic Systems of Oppression

17 November 2009

Last week I moved into a new WG in Neukölln, and then flew to Paris to spend a beautiful weekend with Kate.

We stayed for a night near the Pantheon, wandered around ritzy Parisian districts and drank red wine. And Jameson whiskey.

Then Kate and I took the train out to her town, Angouleme. It’s really beautiful.

Kate actually lives in this tower... it's attached to the high school where she's teaching english.

Kate actually lives in this tower... it's attached to the high school where she teaches english.

Angouleme is known for animation, apparently they have a Comic Con-esque festival. Kate’s high school teaches animation and video related things.

Kate said this translates roughly to... "the chaos stimulates you"

Haunted houses

Haunted houses


Angouleme has three cathedrals and three church-going individuals

Lucas arrives in Berlin in 8 hours…………………………………….. That time will never pass.

Mauerfall 2009

10 November 2009

Today was the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall (Berlinermauer), and all kinds of crazy things were going on. I met up with Bridget and various other Americans in Potsdamer Platz this evening to join in the festivities. As I got to where we were meeting to get dinner, I walked into the middle of a carnival.

I don't know where it came from

The big thing going on was huge dominoes lining where the wall had been.  And then, appropriately, they fell over.

Jahre 20

Big dominoes!

The dominoes had been painted by people and children all over the world and then sent to Berlin.  After dinner we watched a bunch of dignitaries who were sitting near Brandenburger Tor speak about the importance of the fall of the wall. Since we were in Potsdamer Platz we had to watch them on a big screen… but we were close to the screen at least.

Mayor of Berlin, and the first openly gay one

Mayor of Berlin, and the first openly gay one




OBAMA!!!!!!!!!! (He wasn't actually there... 😦 The magic of satellites)

Every picture I tried to take of Merkel came out looking like her demon doppelganger... or is it?

Every picture I tried to take of Merkel came out looking like her demon doppelganger... or is it?

I got a lot more cool pictures and videos but they seem to be stuck on my camera… There were fireworks, the dominoes falling, me talking to Bridget, and…. Gorbachev!!  Oh and Bon Jovi. He sang a song that went like, “We weren’t born to follow.” So that was funny.

I’ll try to put up the rest of the fun photos soon… hopefully my camera is not throwing a fit because I had it out in the rain all night.

Kanal Schwan!

Kanal Schwan!

Only trouble is, gee whiz, I’m dreaming my life away

5 November 2009

Yesterday was the first snow of the… fall. So that was fun.

Fatty flakes

Fatty flakes

Also, Lord Nicolas Stern, author of the Stern Review, major work on the economics of climate change, spoke at TU yesterday. Everyone in the office was freaking out, really excited. Dr. Edenhofer gave Lord Stern a nice Laudatio before the president of TU gave him an honorary doctorate.

Lord Stern talked for maybe an hour about really simple climate change ideas. During the question session I thought the moderator called on me to ask a question, but just as I stood up and started thanking Lord Stern for speaking with us that afternoon, a woman behind me with a microphone started talking. So I mortified myself in front of 2000 people and the most important academic global leaders of climate change policy.

I never got to ask him my question about the Stern Review discount rate!

Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream

Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream

Whenever I want you all I have to do is dream.

When I was running out of time, I turned it into a dream… I turned you into a dream

3 November 2009

I feel bad for not blogging for a while… I’m not really sure what happened. I guess the problem is I haven’t been taking pictures… because I may or may not have run out of material. The days are so short and dark and cold and rainy (zum beispiel, official sunset was 16:32 today).  Luckily, I’m obligated to blog for the German Foreign Office as a part of this fellowship, so I’ll just copy and paste the clean-cut, antiseptic bullshit I write for them here (I’m sick and have no motivation to do this but I was getting sad thinking about my poor abandoned blog so this is what you get!):

29 October, 2009

I continue to go to lectures on Geographical Economics & Climate Change and Economics of Climate Change. I’m the only American in class (except when Ryan, the other fellow from Berlin who works at TU, is there).  Since TU is a very international school, many of the lectures, including the ones I attend, are given in English. This is, of course, great for me. I enjoy participating in discussions in my native language and the fact that I personally know the lecturers doesn’t hurt either. However, the PhD student I work with mentioned that other students might be intimidated to speak up in class knowing there’s a native English-speaker.

I asked the lecturer, Felix, about this, wondering if I should participate less in class. After all, it’s mostly for my own enjoyment, I’m not paying or getting credit for it. He said it was probably more of a cultural thing, that I as someone from the US was more likely to participate in discussion than Germans and that I could help set a good example by speaking up.

We’ve reached a major turning point in the cap-and-trade report we’ve been working on and have essentially completed the first half. At 100 pages it’s a bit too long, but a lot of work has gone into this review phase and we are prepared to embark on some difficult policy analysis looking at how the transportation sector will be affected by cap-and-trade. I spent all last week cohesively formatting the different sections that researchers at TU and Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Research (PIC) had been working on… a tedious process, but it had to be done. And now I am very intimately familiar with the text.

2 November 2009

This week marks my second full month in Germany, which is strange because I simultaneously feel like I just got here and also like I’ve never lived anywhere else. I’ve gotten used to not understanding most of what’s going on around me, like advertisements and conversations, to feeling like an alien when I walk the streets. It will certainly be a shock to return to the US and feel over stimulated by English every time I walk out the door. I do love it here, I really do, but I wonder if Berlin could ever feel like my home.

I did another open mic this Sunday, again at Schokoladen. I saw my friend from the last time I played there, Karen, and this time she had a guitar with her. She’s originally from San Francisco and moved to Berlin maybe 15 years ago, not knowing very much German. Now she works as a free-lance translator and speaks in English with a German accent. This gives me hope that I might not always feel like such an outsider. Then again, sometimes it seems like there are more foreigners than Germans in Berlin. This makes it interesting, but not necessarily easier to feel like you fit in.

As mentioned above, on Sunday I did my third open mic in three weeks. It was really fun. I got to go first this time! Amy came with me again, we made a new vegan friend. He sang a couple songs about animal rights with his guitar and Amy would whisper some translations in my ear (she’s a very good German speaker).

Now I’m trying to recover from something that could be the flu. If one more person tells me I have swine flu… I’m going to blow snot down their throat. It’s not a funny joke anymore.

Sometimes I feel like this piano... all ripped apart with bricks piled on top

Sometimes I feel like this piano... all ripped apart with bricks piled on top

Nevertheless… and another open mic

26 October 2009

On Saturday I ran the Berlin Light Run, 10km around center city.

Festival of Lights Run

I didn’t really get to enjoy the lights as much as I thought because I was… running. 10km is about 6.2 miles, and my time was 51’27”. That’s 8’18” per mile, if I remember my calculations correctly.  Not completely terrible, I’m faster than the road race I did last fall, a 5 miler in which I think my time was about 8’30” per mile.

Last night I went with Amy, a fellow Batten House resident who serendipitously ended up in Berlin last week, to Madame Claude where I did another open mic. Played two M. Ward songs to critical acclaim. And performers got free drinks.  This open mic thing I believe has real potential to be one of my favorite pastimes ever.

This morning was beautiful.

Forster Straße, one of the greatest homes I've ever known

Forster Straße, one of the greatest homes I've ever known



This is where I go running almost every day. How could I not?

This is where I go running almost every day. How could I not?

By the end of the day it was raining. Lucas has his plane tickets ❤

I’m a monk, you’re a monk, we’re all monks… it’s hop time, it’s monk time

24 October 2009

I found an apartment until December 1. I went to work on a near daily basis. Went to the gym a lot (I left my stuff in one of the lockers overnight and the next day it was all gone. Apparently you’re not allowed to leave all your stuff in the lockers overnight… which is idiotic, right?). Recorded a couple M Ward covers. Went for drinks with my colleagues last night in a little backhouse bar near Hackescher Markt and found out about Pernod… wowee.

The days are short and grey.

On the way to Niketown

I’ve been thinking a little bit about veganism. I think I’m allowing it to conflict too much with other ideals that its supposed to be consistent with.

Yesterday I wanted to get a coffee. But the little coffee shops in Berlin don’t usually have soy milk. So I went to Balzac, which is the European equivalent of Starbucks (thought Starbucks is here too)… and I felt bad. I guess I go to Starbucks in the US too.

In my WG we eat a lot of processed soy foods… soy cream (which is the most delicious thing in the world), soy milk, tofu, TVP, soy cheese, soy meat… it all tastes good. But I don’t know where the soy comes from around here.

I feel like an out of control terrible vegan. Like an overconsumptive menace to society.

Okay, not only this, but I’m signed up to do the Berlin Light Run, which is a 10k night run with all kinds of decorative lighting displays along the course. When I heard about it I was really excited because I’ve never done a night road race before and, well, lights are pretty.

Then yesterday when I went to pick up my shirt and bib at ‘Niketown,’ the big Nike store, I realized that essentially I was part of a big Nike advertising campaign. I paid 12 euro to be in this race, just so I could wear a shirt that says Nike on it and so that Nike can be on the news for organizing this big race in which millions of people participated (they’re holding a similar race in many cities around the world, all called “Nike: The Human Race”… they’re not all light races though). Furthermore, the city is wasting electricity and money to light up a running course that could easily have been scheduled for daylight hours… 😦  Why don’t I think about these things?

So, my new rule is that I’m only doing road races if they’re for a good cause or organized by a nonprofit or government entity. I guess it’s better late than never to figure this out.

But also… I want this thing so badly!!!! It looks soooo cool and fun. It tracks your distance, pace, saves your workout details, lets you load the information online so you can compete with other people. God why can’t I be pure of heart? WHY CAN’T I BE PURE OF HEART??

Nike Sportband

Nike Sportband

Oh well, it’s probably dumb anyway. And not very fun after the first day… 😦

My fingertips have a special sound

20 October 2009

Today, as I was walking down the street, a guy ran past me really fast. He was wearing a leather jacket and jeans. I thought, “That’s a strange running outfit.”

Then two police men went running past me in the same direction. I thought, “Oh.”

I hate this guy.

I hate this guy.

City night light... I guess I'm a city girl. Woman. Girl. Infant.

City night light... I guess I'm a city girl. Woman. Girl. Infant.

Emerson Tuttle dominates open stage

19 October 2009

I’m reluctant to use that post title because Lucas told me not to get too cocky (“You’re in a band!”) but I felt SO GOOD about my open mic performance last night at Schokoladen. I practiced all week and played three of my own ukulele songs late last night in a tiny venue in front of maybe 50 people. And performers got drink specials!

The crowd really seemed receptive to what I played. Maybe I was hallucinating but it seemed like they were cheering really loudly. Maybe they were just very drunk by the time I started, I was last in the lineup. Some of the other performers were incredible, others were less than incredible.

I’m in the throes of trying to find a new apartment. I have to be out of this WG 15 November. Lots of leads, nothing coming through yet… we’ll see.

Prenzlauerberg rooftop