This is what my siblings and I would lovingly call a Rudow Hairstyle. It has to be somewhere between purple and blue and should be accompanied by a vibrantly blue eyeshadow. And possibly really long red nails.
Rudow is the part of Berlin where our mother grew up. It's not really a wealthy part of town but as far as I could see there was no abject poverty, either. My grandparents lived on a street that was pragmatically called 'Strasse 229' - Street 229 - located in a 'settlement'. That sounds very much like the far west but it wasn't Oklahoma, it was south of Berlin.
These settlements were parts of town where a group of people was allowed to construct houses. I can't remember the exact time, but it must have been before the first World War because my grandmother grew up there. Every settler had to help build all the houses and none of them knew which one was to be their own. That way everyone would give their best for every house and not just for the one they would live in.
My grandmother lived there all her life, grandfather moved in with her family after their marriage.
As I said, Rudow was not a wealthy part of town but I loved going there as a child and young adult. My grandparents and their friends and neighbors had grown old together, visiting, chatting, gossiping and developing their very own fashion style. The latter never really outgrew the sixties and permed 'high' hair stayed in fashion until the 21st century. But it changed in one significant manner: Purple hair became acceptable. I don't know how but it must have been in the late nineties, if you ask me.
Now that our grandparents have died, we rarely go to Rudow anymore. But we are always delighted to see someone with a Rudow Hairstyle.
Among many other fears (cooked carrots, hair in the sink, giant spiders that somehow have eloped from their natural amazonian habitat and now live in my closet...) I am afraid I might end up dumb.
Seriously. I spend all my days alone, sometimes only talking to the lady at the checkout counter in my grocery store. And, yes, my mother. Thrice a day. But still, that's a lot of time alone, and although I usually enjoy working on my own and not having to talk to anybody I am also afraid I might end up communicating like the Yeti. You know how it goes. You're standing right there, ready to pay for apples, bananas milk and some bread, the checkout lady asks you something and you answer somewhere along the lines of
Because you're kind of out of practice?
That's why I'm learning Hindi and Devanagari (that's the written form). At least I'll be able to communicate with the checkout lady in some language. It's most reassuring, believe me.
Ah, but seriously. I really am afraid of not knowing, of being not educated. It haunts me that I didn't understand anything about India. At all. One day I think I might go back and be better prepared.
And so you can find me in the evenings, reading with great application and the utmost concentration every a, aaah, e, i, o and au in every text I can find in Devanagari script.
Have you tried to learn how to write again recently? It's an interesting experience.
When I started teaching at the beginning of this year I didn't really know what to expect. Since then I have learned a lot. Other people have, too. They learned things about illustration, I learned things about people.
I'm 33 and ancient. What I say is rarely questioned although I am neither a loud nor an aggressive teacher. They just accept the wisdom such old age brings with it.
I have learned to let them talk. They don't need anyone to tell them about life's lessons. For many of them this is the first time they live away from home. They just finished Highschool. And now they can invent themselves all anew. So many possibilities. So many things to think about. So many things to talk about. So I listen.
I have learned that being firm is important. But one can say the same thing in a negative or a positive way. Beginning with the things that are good in an illustration, then talking about those things that could be better is much more helpfull and much less offending than being blunt and saying 'this isn't good'. It's rather hard to refuse making some changes or adjustments if you've just been paid a compliment.
But even with all this wisdom there are still times when I'm surprised, and, more often than not, humbled by something they do or say. Sometimes there are exceptional illustrations. Sometimes there is progress I wouldn't have expected.
And tonight there was a young girl from Georgia. The eastern european country, not the state. She's a tiny little bit, happy, friendly, a bit on the nervous side. She speaks very good German but is always a bit breathless. I knew she had studied German in school and had then been an Au Pair somewhere in Germany. Ours is a complex language and being as fluent as she is takes a lot of effort. I know that, and in my mind, had given her credit for it.
Tonight we were talking about this and that while she worked on a drawing. I asked things about Georgia, a country I know literally nothing about. She told me bits and pieces about politics, arts, how people live... I asked her if she missed it. Of course, she replied, but she'd always wanted to come to Germany. In school she had the choice between English and German. She was one of three pupils who chose German. When I wanted to know why (after all, English is the one language that makes things a lot easier in life for all of us), she looked at me with surprise. Because Germany has produced some of the greatest minds and artists! What a question, her face seemed to say. Musicians and philosophers, too. She had studied German because she had always wanted to read German literature. Not translations. The real deal.
Had she read the Germany philosophers, I asked. Some of them. Nietzsche she liked best. Although, and here she looked a bit puzzled, she doesn't understand why he so dislikes the old greek philosophers. They weren't bad, after all!
So tonight I need to write myself a note: Don't put people into convenient little boxes with convenient little labels. They might express their thoughts in funny ways and naive language. But at the same time they might be more widely read than I ever will be.
Hanna, my favorite sister, you won yesterday's advent gift. You don't need to write me your address, it's one of three I actually know by heart.
To any of you who are new to this blog: There is a continuing giveaway until the 24th of December. Every day I give one little present to one of you readers. If you want to enter the draw, leave a comment each day on that day's post.
This photo was taken at ten am today and I had already been up for hours. On a Saturday (and I am tempted to spell this in capitals only, just to convey the weight it deserves)! It's Christmas market time and sleep, oh sleep... I've heard of that. Highly overrated I'm told.
Without a solid eight hours sleep I'm not really good. - Understatement of the century.
Last night I worked until about 3 am. Today I had to get up at 7 am. My future family is lucky they're not yet living with me or are not yet born - remind them not to let me do the markets when the time comes.
The alarm shrilled, I sat upright in bed, my brain was struggling to wake up... and I honestly asked myself 'Ok. Who are you? - right: Julia. What do you do in life? Do you have a job you need to go to?'
I find the answer to be a bit complex. I'm Julia, that's for sure. Yes, I have a job. No, I don't usually have to go anywhere to do my job. But yes, today I had to get up to go to do my job.
How on earth is anyone supposed to cope with all that at 7 am?!
Jane T. you won yesterday's advent gift! Will you write me an email to let me know your address, please?
To all of you who are new here and would like to participate in the Advent giveaway: Leave a comment daily and you'll automatically enter the draw.
A happy and peaceful Second Advent Sunday to all of you.
Lord, it's 23:40 - no, please correct that. It's 23:44. 11:44 pm. I'm working and I'm exhausted. I hope you are well, though.
If I had one wish, a professional wish, you know, not the kind of wish that kind of warrants the answer 'world peace'. Just a working person's wish, I would please kindly ask for the ability to plan ahead. Or to just let it go sometimes.
If there could be a ban on new ideas before trade fairs that would greatly improve my sleep pattern also. Could we install that, let's say, two weeks before each trade fair?
That would give me the time to finish all the projects I already have going on.
I wouldn't be loosing sleep because of new projects that might or might not get finished before the fair.
Which is Sunday, by the way.
Possibly maybe if I promise to be good for, let's say a week?