December 11, 2013
I first saw The Royal Tenenbaums when I was in middle school. I wasn’t old enough to see R-rated movies. I remember that because my friends mom had to bribe the ticket seller to let us in without her.
I fell in love with the Owen brothers, especially Luke. His portrayal of Ritchie Tenenbaum sent my heart a fluttering. I also really felt emotionally connected to Margo Tenenbaum — a moody, probably quite emotionally immature woman who hid away from everyone. Margo and Ritchie were in love. It made sense to me.
I was probably 14 at the time. My friend and I were surrounded by adults — and no one was laughing. To me, the movie was a comedy - dark, but hilarious!. Everyone around me was silent. But, I was cracking up, snorting out my soft drink and choking on popcorn.
The other day I was walking down my street in Berlin and passed by a white building. Inside everything shined. On the window I saw one of my favorite lines from the beginning of The Royal Tenenbaums:
"Dear Eli, I’m in the middle of the ocean. I haven’t left my room in four days. I’ve never been more lonely in my life, and I think I’m in love with Margot."
I smiled so big & snapped a picture. It felt really whimsical reading that, sorta running into it on the street. A little piece of a memory from America showing up in Berlin.
December 10, 2013
I want to talk about Robyn Davidson - The camel lady.
I learned about her from Abby - of course. My travel partner/ nomadic spirit guide soulmate. Abby sent me the trailer for the movie based on Robyn’s 1977 9 month trek across the Australian desert.
Damn this lady is fierce. And, I was so surprised I had never heard of her. She’s still alive and has three homes (see she’s a nomad at heart and can’t just pick one place to stay) — a home in the himalayas, Sydney and London. So quaint.
In 1977 at the age of 27 (my age now), she took four camels and her dog on a trek from Alice Springs in the middle of Australia to the Western Coast. It took 9 months, a lot of sweat, blood, tears and serious strength. She did it alone, with no help and made it. She more than made it.
I admire her so much — she reminds me of another idol of mine, Beryl Markham. I first read about Beryl while I was studying abroad in Spain. My dad slipped “West With the Night” into my backpack before I hit the road to Madrid and said “read this, you’ll like it”. I did and I loved it.
I think it kinda added some fuel to my travel fire — it sparked something. Beryl was an Independent, badass woman just like Robyn. She was the first person (man or woman) to fly East to West over the Atlantic and in her late teens she was a champion horse trainer. She then learned to fly and helped track large game for hunters in Africa.
These women have something in common that makes me chomp at the bit - an utter thirst for adventure and freedom.
I like this quote from Robyn:
‘I’ve chosen, I guess, freedom over comfort, which means that I’ve often been uncomfortable”
Ain’t that the truth.
It’s something that I think of all the time. Sometimes I hazily dream of having a home and getting cozy, but then I realize I would lose so much of myself in the process. I’m just not ready to settle down yet. If I ever had a home that felt more than semi-permanent, I’d need another home to escape to and maybe another after that…and that just brings me back to where I started. A woman, uneasy with settling down and staying in one place for too long. I’m like a shark in the water, I have to keep moving or else I’ll expire.
So back to Robyn and her camels and her journey alone. It inspires me to no end. She struggled, sure — it wasn’t always easy, but in the struggle she grew so much as a person. She proved she could do it, because why not! She said she could and she trusted her gut.
I often think about doing something similar. Maybe not with camels, but a solo journey off the grid. But, a piece of me is a little scared. Clinging to the part of me that can’t entirely let go of controlling everything that happens. A piece of me that needs to know what’s coming next.
My inner dialogue says “but, that’s what adventures are all about, my dear.”
I guess that is something I’ll just have to let happen, though when the time comes.
Let go, take on challenging adventures, learn everything I can & be free.
December 9, 2013
(drawing by Maggie Tang)
It’s raining again in Berlin. I think I saw the sun a week ago, but I can’t keep track anymore. I sound like an emo teenager, but I’m not trying to — I just can’t remember the last time I basked in the suns rays. I always remember “basking” (especially in Berlin) and my memory is cloudy around when that occurred last. Cloudy like Berlin, maybe.
Two weeks until I’m in America and I can’t wait. I feel like I need a little break again from the Internet, if not for a week. I will do that soon.
Then, I’ll have a little more time to think and write and take pictures. Maybe even finish another book.
I listened to Ray LaMontague all day today while it was raining. He sang about how New York was killing him. He just wanted to go back home to the country and hide away in a cabin with his lover and a bottle of Whiskey. Away from the lights and sounds and people. I can relate, Ray.
It’s a recurring theme in my life, but I’m feeling the itch to get away from the city again. Or at least away from the gray. I am hoping that San Francisco brings a bit more light and some new sounds and feelings.
I hope it snows again soon. White blankets of snow are so much better than sheets of rain.
Such a great tune from Denai Moore.
December 8, 2013
I built a couch fort in my living room.
I ate Twix for breakfast, pizza for lunch and cookies for a snack. Deep in my couch fort, listening to Oliver Tank and watching Netflix.
December 7, 2013
I wore a short half plastic/half velour Christmas sweater to my Ugly Sweater Christmas party.
Some of the best people I know attended. Including Maggie - a serious light in my life - she came early and stayed late. She even wore a truly adorable/ugly Christmas sweater. I really appreciated the effort + spirit.
She drew a sign for Abby, because it was her birthday. We blew her a kiss from Berlin.
Karl came as well. Dressed in a funky sweater, slicked backed (over gelled/ Mormon bicycle messenger) hair and a tie with jungle animals on it. It was amazing and made me love him that much more.
It was a small, nay, “intimate” affair — I like the word intimate and that’s what it was. But, I had fun and drank a lot of Gluhwein. Ashley came and spiked it with 42% locally produced corn vodka. We were all a buzz and a twirl.
A serious bonus to hosting a Christmas party is all the leftover chocolate. And, creepy Santa chocolate dolls.
Friday, Friday, Friday.
December 6, 2013
Today it snowed for the first time this Winter.
I woke up to a snow flurry and a hell of a lot of strong wind pounding against my window.
Snow flurries going sideways, up & down and all around. I had to turn my heater up to “3” out of “5” today and my room was cold when I woke up at 8am.
Winter smacked me in the face with a little icy breath and precipitation!
On a side note (more importantly!), today is Abby’s birthday! I can’t say Happy Birthday in person so I’ve bombarded her with messages via every social media outlet I know.
Happy Birthday, Abby!
December 5, 2013
I put up some new decor today. A sloth (!!!), some dried lavender and a map of Berlin my dear friend Abby made for me.
Abby left in June for Texas and as a parting gift she took a map of Berlin and marked it with all the places that meant something to our friendship.
Ed & Sarah’s house in Prenzlauerberg (aka the place I danced her into a flame - her hair caught on fire), Gidsy in Kreuzberg (the reason she came to Berlin), the bar I met her at in Neukoln…there’s about 100 significant places on that map, because we went on a lot of adventures in our short time together.
It’s really rather lovely. I can’t wait to do it justice and put it in a frame. Until then, it will be out in the open, kinda crumpled. Poor but sexy, just like Berlin.
December 4, 2013
A Winter storm is brewing out there. Blowing in from Greenland. The news said there’d be snow on Friday. The first snow of the season. That kinda excites me as first snows tend to do.
It’s been raining all day, but for some reason I like it. Icy, cold rain hitting my face. It’s wakes you up.
My breath was steaming out my mouth today. I felt like a little dragon, breathing up in puffs, watching the steam evaporate into the air.
Last night I made Gluhwein! It’s the ideal drink for a German Winter.
Here’s how you can make it, too:
- 1 litre bottle cheap red wine
- 30z/75g sugar (to taste)
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon or stick cinnamon
- juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- Pour wine into a saucepan and add remaining ingredients (you can put whole spices in muslin).
- Heat until nearly boiling and strain (if necessary) into a warm bowl.
- Serve warm.
My Special Tip
- Add bourbon or some othe hard liquor
Passive aggressive German washing machine.
Day 10 — December 3, 2013
Berlin in the fall. Abandoned patios, blankets strewn over chairs at cafes and lots of thick sweaters.
Everyone hiding in their clothing, burrowing like little mice trying to stay warm.
But, a cold breeze on a sunny day is something to savor in Berlin as the dark days of Winter approach.
So we sat outside in the sun, on this quiet day and watched the people go by.
Illustration by Maggie Tang.
This isn’t my drawing, but these are my words.
My friend Maggie - an excellent artist/designer - and decided to collaborate a bit and be creative together.
Every week (maybe day if we can manage it), she will send me a sketch and I’ll write about it. Or I’ll send her my words and she will illustrate them.
You can follow our collaboration here (tag - draw 365) and on her blog:
December 2, 2013
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ― Albert Camus
Today my brain is kinda crammed full to the brim. I guess maybe because it’s a Monday or maybe because I am just coming off a few days off.
This morning I woke up and the sky was so blue - I felt so optimistic and glowed a little myself. It was Monday and the sun was shining! Everything was fabulous. By noon it was hazy, orange and slightly foggy. By 4pm, the sun was down behind the buildings and I was sitting in the dark, working away. Hunched over my laptop, feeling a little less than cheery.
I guess I’ve missed out on these short days of barely any daylight. I was in Chicago this time last year, training at our main office and I was too damn busy to realize how short the daylight hours were, because I was too damn busy focusing on how they weren’t long enough (daylight or darkness — I would have taken either). I had to learn so much every day and time flew by. Three weeks in Chicago seemed like three days.
But now, I see Winter creeping up on Berlin.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it isn’t Winter yet. It’s still warm enough for me to go outside in just a sweater and coat and sometimes no socks. But, the promise of Winter is sorta lingering on the horizon. I feel like it’s a blurred image in the distance coming into focus, slowly. Like a shadow that you can’t distinguish from a bear or a tree. You don’t know until you get close enough. And, that’s how I feel about Winter in Berlin. It can be good or bad, cold or really fucking cold, but there’s no way to know until you are close enough to touch it. And, feel it on your skin.
I guess I am just waiting for that moment where I have to throw on two layers of pants, drink whiskey to stay warm (that’s my excuse anyways) and spend hours in the sauna soaking up its warmth because I can’t produce my own anymore.
I hate not knowing what to expect.
I am waiting impatiently for Winter.