But, now I am back in Berlin. And, I am so so jet lagged. I feel like all my incredible experiences in the last month have exploded my brain and now all I can do is lay in bed watching Parks & Recreation.
This last week has been incredibly sunny, though — I have never seen Berlin like this. It feels like Spring has sprung and I think the sun hitched a ride on my plane to Europe.
I am back to writing everyday too. My new goal is also to read more and speak German to other humans. Dogs and/or Duolingo do not count. I realized in the last year I have become more of a recluse. Especially since Scott and Abby both moved away at the beginning of the summer. I am more closed in and boarded up. Being in San Francisco for a month really helped me come out of my shell more and that’s something I want to continue working on in Berlin.
Coming to the edge, knowing you have to jump because you’ve gone too far to turn around. But, also being scared shitless and unprepared for what awaits. Totally financially unstable, with one rucksack & lots of unknowns. That was definitely what Berlin felt like when I first landed at Tegel 3 years ago.
Passage from Robyn Davidson’s book "Tracks" - a woman’s solo trek across 1700 miles of Australian outback.
I’m in San Francisco, sitting in Dolores Park, looking at the city from my perch up here on this hill. Everything is golden with a slight hazy glow in the distance. A little fog is being stirred up — only a hint but, it’s brushing along the coast.
It is warm. 60 degrees in January. And, yes that’s in Fahrenheit — I can use Fahrenheit in America without feeling shamed by my Celsius loving friends.
Everything feels good, but I could use some more coffee. Since it’s 6pm I’ll settle for some good tunes and an IPA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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 woke up at 745 to watch the sunrise. The sun came up almost suddenly and stained the horizon with a flash of color. Orange, pink and purply blue.
The fog that once blanketed the barn and fields started receding to the West slowly, sorta dissolving into the lake at the edge of the property.
A group of small deer crept out into the field closest to the largest window in the front room of the barn. They feasted on knee high grass and timidly moved forward away from the cover of the trees they must have been hiding in over night.
The sun burned through the clouds defiantly and the day was illuminated and set on fire with a strange haze.
Everything was quiet. Even the wind whispered.
"You can’t go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory"
In Furstenwerder feeling dark inside and out.
I finished “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck and for some reason it made me long for America.
I feel kinda homesick for something that I don’t even know if I “know” anymore.
Wow. Today we awoke to a landscape blinking sleepily, yawning and coming alive with the rising sun.
We arrived the night before and everything that surrounded us was dark, black and a kinda mystery, but today everything shined.
Huge, endless, emerald green fields. Blue lakes surrounding us on all sides and hills upon hills dotted with tiny forests of leafless trees.
The cabin we are staying at is actually a converted barn on a property with a few other reclaimed and up-cycled houses (all converted from old bits and pieces of a farm that once stood there). A stable made into apartments, an old dry cellar made into a small cottage.
The sky was blue and all you could hear out there was the sound of wind whipping around the winter bare trees. The wind danced around the willowy grass and through the fields, then smacked the side of our barn hard, howling a little. Lamenting upon the fact that maybe it would rather be inside with us enjoying the fire.
Karl cooked pancakes with white chocolate and I sat drinking strong coffee on the ginormous tan couch stretched out in front of the fire.
Karl woke me up with a walrus kiss this morning & I slept til’ noon. I had never slept better in my life. Drunk dreaming, tangled up in sheets, bundled. Cosy in our new “penthouse” 5 stories above Berlin.
Off to our cabin in the woods we go. Solitude awaiting us at the end of a train ride. Close enough to touch.
I’m moving into a new flat today & packing for a trip to a cabin in the woods for three days of solitude with Karl (sans Internets). I will be bringing a pen & paper with me to write about the week away in the woods & post retrospectively over the weekend.
But, enough about that! More about this video. I am all for dream warrior women and Michelle Stelien is a beast. She rips just as hard or harder than any skateboarder I’ve seen & she does it all without padding.
I want to be her. Watch the video, maybe get inspired and I’ll see you in a few days with hopefully a few more words!
I woke up to the smell of coffee and a bright, sunny, blue skied day in Berlin!
What more could you need?
I am hoping for more sun this Winter. In a few weeks Karl and I are heading to Austin, Texas for Christmas and then driving across the American Southwest to San Diego for New Years Eve. From there we will drive to San Francisco.
I am hoping (and dreaming of) long stretches of America abandoned and populated only by our caravan. A huge trailer and truck attached carrying 4 people and countless dogs through the desert (my mom, Abby & our dogs are coming as well).
I keep thinking of how quiet the nights are in the desert on the road. The cold permafrost that accumulates on the ground and hot breath you can see forming as you let out your dragons sigh. I can’t wait.
Seeing the stars as clear as crystal makes me kinda giddy. Getting away from the city makes me even more giddy. I am just giddy overall.
This year has been crazy. That is the best way I can sum it up succinctly.
I got my dream job at my dream company. I traveled all around the world, including Chicago (3 times), Lisbon (2 times), all over Germany, Poland, Denmark and Sweden.
I worked my ass off - harder than I have ever worked in my life. And, I have been more tired than I’ve ever been in my life, too.
I met a girl. We exchanged pieces of our souls a bit. And, she went away.
I fell in love with a floppy haired man, and I learned a great number of swear words in Swedish.
It has been grand.
But, in the past year I’ve stopped writing. Something that is like therapy for me. I “write” every day. 75 or more emails — all hand crafted for the person I am writing to and by the end of the day the last thing I want to do is write about my life. I have lost the ability to really write. Not just words but feelings, senses, tastes & touches. I’ve lost the urge to explain the smells on the Ubahn or the soft skin on the back of the man snoring through his mustache next to me. I want to reclaim that.
And, that’s not good. It’s sad to admit that writing all day has stripped me of my creativity a bit, but it has. I need to fix that. So, I am going to write everyday. On scraps of paper if I have to, but I’m going to write.
I’m going to document my travels, I’m going to write about what I’m reading (because I’m going to read, too), I’m going to write about places I visit and the people I see, but it does’t really matter because writing is enough for me - I could write about the shitty coffee I drank earlier at the American Diner in Prenzlauerberg and how it reminded me of home. I could write about anything and it would be okay.
“I’ve never been lonely. I’ve been in a room — I’ve felt suicidal. I’ve been depressed. I’ve felt awful — awful beyond all — but I never felt that one other person could enter that room and cure what was bothering me…or that any number of people could enter that room. In other words, loneliness is something I’ve never been bothered with because I’ve always had this terrible itch for solitude. It’s being at a party, or at a stadium full of people cheering for something, that I might feel loneliness. I’ll quote Ibsen, “The strongest men are the most alone.” I’ve never thought, “Well, some beautiful blonde will come in here and give me a fuck-job, rub my balls, and I’ll feel good.” No, that won’t help. You know the typical crowd, “Wow, it’s Friday night, what are you going to do? Just sit there?” Well, yeah. Because there’s nothing out there. It’s stupidity. Stupid people mingling with stupid people. Let them stupidify themselves. I’ve never been bothered with the need to rush out into the night. I hid in bars, because I didn’t want to hide in factories. That’s all. Sorry for all the millions, but I’ve never been lonely. I like myself. I’m the best form of entertainment I have. Let’s drink more wine!”—Charles Bukowski (via olaw-army)