During the last couple of months I have become quite the postcard writer. The format is perfect. Just enough to fit a 'with love, Julia' into it but there's no space to write a novel. Because right now I don't have the time for novels. The joy such a tiny card brings is rather disproportional to their size, tough, so what you get out of card-writing rather exceeds the price you pay to send them.
My four year old godson receives cards regularly now (I keep it culinary: '...Today I ate ice cream and thought how lovely it will be next time I visit because then I can take you to the ice cream parlour, too...'), so does our grandmother. The really funny ones I keep for my parents and siblings. Because my kind of humor is not suitable either for children or for the elderly.
One of the shops I work with here in Berlin asked me if I could design a series of Berlin postcards. It's the tourist season and they all want to tell their loved ones in Kentucky or in Moscow all about their trip to Berlin. - In just a couple of words.
So lately I've been roaming the streets and taking public transport unplugged - without an iPod, that is - so I could listen.
I'll be sharing a bit of my Berlin with you over the next couple of days. Not the cute Berlin, not the pretty picture-postcard Berlin, but the things I love about this city.
Tourists, for example, are unbeatable entertainment.
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.
For those of you who are not European and maybe don't follow the political and financial drama that unfolds around us as closely as we do: Greece, broke if it were not for money coming from the European Union, voted last weekend. Understandably people are unhappy with their economic situation and the heavy budget cuts imposed by the rest of Europe. Both the extreme left- and the extreme right-wing parties profited from the situation, the ultra-right 'Golden Dawn' party gaining 6,97 % of votes.
If it weren't so sad I'd find the name pretty for a political party.
The way things stand I'm curious to see where things are headed, both for Greece and the rest of Europe.
Do you know the fairytale 'Jorinde and Joringel'? Or I guess in English it would be 'Jorinda and Jorindel'. If you don't, you can find it over at the Gutenberg Project.
When we were little our adopted Grandmother would read it to us sometimes in the evenings, just before we went to bed. I still remember the illustrations in her edition and I also still remember how it felt to sit with her in her small apartment (right above the place where we lived), feel the warm sun of early summer evenings slowly fade into dusk and let the excitements of another day wane.
For green and pink electric lights, terribly tasteless Christmas tree decorations, the smell of woodfire smoke, drunk men (and ladies) and oh, that horrible german traditional music? Once a year I need my dose.
No Christmas without a Christmas Market in Germany.
Sausage with ketchup, red candy apples, grapes and strawberries (in December!) covered in chocolate, perfectly ugly cute stuffed animals, 'funny' gloves, hats and socks you don't wish upon your worst enemy... To all of this add a good dose of cold weather that makes your hands and feet fall off after ten minutes outside... and my Advent is a good one.
A dollop of mayonnaise with a couple of french fries
plus two or three cups of mulled wine that would kill a diabetic instantly...
and I feel much improved.
Jorun, my 'old' blog friend, you won yesterday's Advent gift. As I said, I'm much in favor of traditions.
Would you write me an email and tell me your new address, please?
For everyone who's new to the Lineanongrata blog: We have an ongoing celebration of Advent until the 24th of December. Every day one of you readers wins a small gift. If you'd like to participate, just leave a comment on each post until the 24th of December and you'll automatically enter the draw.
I have a secret. Until today only my family and my best friends knew: I started to dance. And because I'm not much into Tutus or any other kind of pink fluff, I took up Bollywood dancing. It goes without saying that I discovered I have a love for jingling and dangling jewellery, colorful clothing and maybe I want a tiara in the near future.
Next summer the dance studio I go to will have a public event. We will dance, too. Along with the belly dance mice (that's what I call the tiny little girls who do belly dancing at the same time we bollywood-dance), the tango dancers and the what-not-dancers. That's months ahead, luckily. Until then I might have made some progress. Because it turns out that I am seriously left-right-impaired. I'm able to dance-step to the right quite gracefully, but I'll have to hop back to the left because my brain doesn't do mirror-imaging.
Maybe there remains enough time until next summer for me to figure out (and please excuse my language) how the hell I'm supposed shimmy without any boobs!
Lubaska, you won yesterday's advent gift. Would you please send me an email with your address so I can send it on it's merry way?
For all of you who are new to the Lineanongrata blog and who would like to participate in the advent calendar giveaway: Just leave a comment each day on that day's post and you'll automatically enter the draw.
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.