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.
Potsdamer Platz generally freaks me out for some reason. Probably because it’s a piece of Berlin that really doesn’t feel like Berlin (at least to me and that’s coming from an auslander). But, I have to admit I love their holiday decorations.
December 1, 2013
Sunday morning, waking up to the smell of cigarette smoke in my hair.
The ghost of whiskey’s past, present in my mouth. I can taste it, bitter and lingering.
Tossing and turning. Gimme water. Gimme food. Gimme shelter.
Sleeping til’ the sun bows to the night, listening to the cars outside, accelerating, the trams sliding along tracks, dogs barking.
Head pounding. Cold pizza, warm tea, soft sheets, long kisses, burrowing into the bed pretending it’s a cave. An early hibernation for Winter.
November 30, 2013
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.
We walked to this lake by our cabin/barn, mud up to our shins. The wind was wild and whipping the water in a sorta show of dominance. I thought it was pretty anyways.