A Day at Slow Travel Berlin’s Celebration: a Kleidertausch, Brushes with Grimberg, and Unassuming Tacos

German events–so long as they happen in the daylight hours–are nearly always far quieter than I expect.

Coming off of four tumultuous years in one of Europe’s most bustling, shouty, aggressive and, without a doubt, loudest capital cities (fact: some sources say Spain is the second loudest country on earth after Japan), it still sits strangely with me that here, I can leave my home on a Saturday afternoon, navigate south, and for blocks at a time, hear nothing but the sound of my own footsteps. Where in other countries, city streets, popular bars, and even shopping malls are the highest of high volume locales, in Berlin, they’re hushed and adult–they’re goddamn orderly. Discomfiting. Weird. And also inarguably awesome.

Slow Travel Berlin’s Celebration of Culture was one such unexpectedly calm, chill, and characteristically German-quiet event. Despite the prevalence of daytime drinking and the attendance of more than a few visiting Iberians, the shady, cavernous space of Kreuzberg’s Markthalle 9 remained tenably chillaxed throughout the afternoon I spent enjoying the various workshops, food stalls, and events. Here’s how it went down.

After a quick stop by ArtConnect Berlin’s jewelry trunk show, I arrived on the scene with my favoritest of kiwis. Our bags were full and our destination clear: the Kleidertausch event. After laying out our clothes for exchange, a glass of complimentary bubbly, and a few too many gooey brownies, Rosie and I were ready to swap. Women hoved like buzzards around the u-shaped tables, eyeing the piles of soon-to-be-grabbable textiles. Sadly, there was little booty which interested Rosie or me, but at the afternoon clothes swap session,  we both struck gold. By the good graces of Jenni, kleidertausch organizer extraordinaire and new friend, I left Markthalle 9 with a breezy summer tee and a splendid little vintage dress that seems made for my grandma’s illnaynay woven cordovan belt.

Apart from the monster-sized tofu burger, lovely wine (discovery: they sell Bitácora, one of my preferred Ruedas, at the market’s permanent wine stall), great company and tuneage supplied by a variety of local artists, there were also wandering sketchers, and three practitioners of the quite possibly useless Grimberg method. I suppose I oughtn’t knock it–after all, I was the beneficiary of a complimentary 20-minute (awkwardly public) massage–but this particular physical therapy method, subscribing to a belief in the body’s ability to heal itself if taught, seemed rather ineffective to me. At the very least I served as a rather awkward life drawing subject for the scores of roving scribblers.

And then there was Mexican. Together with our passel of new friends, Rosie and I trooped to Lenaustraße for Geist im Glas’ infamous taco night, meeting some work colleagues and various significant others at the spot. The apricot margaritas and licorice-infused bourbon went down nice and easy, but the real star of the show wasn’t the exotic booze or beautifully tattered decor, nor was it the traditional beef taco. It was the humble chipotle sweet potato taco that knocked my brain back into its rattly, hatted hull in the pleasantest of ways. As I chewed  through my second taco, I considered its subtle tuberous appeal–subdued in its spices, certainly not screaming hot or ostentatiously adorned with exotic veg, never would this dreamtaco ever consider attracting unwonted attention to itself–it seemed to me an appropriate mascot food for a lovely day out in this, the chillest of capitol cities.

I’ve always been a fan of the strong, silent types, Berlin. I’m getting used to your quiet. Keep me in fantastic cultural events and belly-warming tacos and we’ll both be a-okay.

Nothing to Everything

As may have been somewhat evident by my long blogtube sabbatical, I’ve been busy. Really busy. Why? Get ready for it…

Breathe in.

Sit down.

Here it is…

I, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, am employed!

O_O That’s right: I’ve got a real, honest-to-goodness, full time, real people stint at a great Berlin start-up about which I’m really excited. I applied right before leaving for Niels’ parents’ place, was contacted the next day to go in for an interview a few days after Christmas, and then, a week later when they’d finished all the interviews, I got the call: I was first choice. Since I’d had my eye on this job since the position was fleetingly posted way back in the autumn of last year (and then disappeared ’til December for reasons unknown), saying yes was a no-brainer. I had only a weekend to shift my mind toward employment: I started last Monday.

I am now Editor-in-Chief of the English language website of a travel start-up. Being at the head of my department (and in fact the only one in it at this point! Ha!) means that every day is jam packed. I’ve been wildly hustling for the past week in efforts to hire not one, not two, but 48 new writers to work on getting our English content up to snuff. I’ve also done other stuff there, like translate a German press release to English (man, was that satisfying! Ah, Middlebury you taught me well!), help our PR intern craft a winning presentation in English for a campaign she’s working up, and drink good beer and eat pizza with my coworkers. Another sweet point? Our office is only a scant 3 minutes by train away from my apartment, with only a 10 minute walk thereafter. 🙂

Aside from readjusting to being part of the world that wakes early and toils ’til late at night, I’ve been freelancing, enjoying a New-Year-time visit from my LieblingsKim and her lovely boyfriend, Alex, and slowly realizing that my aging corpus isn’t meant for a month of sustained overindulgence in food, alcohol, socialization and movement. My holiday season has been filled with friends, more food than I know what to do with, and probably enough Rotkäpchen Sekt to keep an ocean liner afloat for a few dozen nautical miles. I am feeling tanktastic and toxic and, as of today, will be trying hard to combat it all with lots of water, healthy foods and (when I can–when I’m free!) sleep. Why no exercise to speed the process along? (sigh) That’s…not such a long or surprising story.

The bum ankle is, if possible, bummer, and now its right counterpart has joined in on the fun, turning spontaneously ugly overnight and ripening for fireworky pain on Christmas morn. Despite twice-weekly sessions of physical therapy, I don’t seem to be on the mend and I no longer know what to do about it. I certainly can’t run it off–which up ’til two years ago would’ve been my solution–, but sweet Jove knows I wish I could, considering the fact that I’m down to two pairs of suitable-for-my-breadth leggings and a few paltry shirts. I’m at a loss for metaphors to describe just how much I’m missing my daily adrenaline hit.

Beyond the aesthetic motivations for being able to exercise, though, I miss the indomitable feeling it used to give me. I long to feel healthy, strong, and sleek. Most of all, I miss not being in constant pain. I’m trying to sort it out now–the hurt, that is. I’m trying to understand why my back must continually throb, why a sudden turn of the head to the side results in electric jabs into my spine; why a simple step spurs joint pain enough to produce a limp. The adage says that all things happen for a reason, but what reason could there be for this? I don’t recall any great trespasses; I’ve never instigated genocide against anything but blackflies, and to be fair, that would have been a great service to humanity had I managed the feat (and if this is my punishment for never getting around to smooshing them all, it seems very unfair). Maybe sense simply doesn’t reside behind all things. Maybe I’m just breaking and my flame will be one that’s short and bright. Maybe that didn’t have to be as depressing to write as it just felt, but I’m not sure how.

Before I segue into doldrums, let’s review: I have a job. Someone loves me. Our home is warm and clean and sweet. I’m missing my family these days, but life is working out not so shabbily. I’ll write again–and sooner than last time I said so. For the next few weekends, I’m looking forward to nothing more than getting my achy feet back under me and dusting things that need it. But for now, I’ll leave you with a snap of the city that I, lucky lady, can now fully call home:

Berlin, you’re all right.

Tonight’s the night. And it’s going to happen again, and again. It has to happen.

In my 26 years of life I’ve rowed a women’s 8 and commanded my non-runners body into pounding out a pair of decently timed 10Ks, training for, but never completing, a third. I’ve bested bilateral hip surgery with a smile and gritted it out as my back exploded into heated nodes of pinching vertebral pain. I’ve bootcamp-learned two foreign languages and run herd on a clutch of wily, wild Spanish elementary schoolers for an entire year. I’ve figured out how to live in now two countries to which I am not native, patting at the parameters of adulthood in the framework of a different tongue. Nine years ago I undertook the challenge of losing–and keeping off–100 sedentary, jiggly pounds. Ordinarily I’d say that determination is rather one of my strong suits–my track record is good!–but this weekend I was powerless. This weekend I had no control. This weekend my ironclad will was tested, and I’m sorry to say that I came up wanting.

There in the sleepy German town of Bad Pyrmont it lay in wait: my kryptonite. Velvety and glistening it lounges in foil packets, shining sweetly as it rots itself into the crevices of my frenzied mind. Whipped into layers of billowy cream or folded cunningly between pockets of faultless spelt it is particularly hazardous–one can so easily take a much bigger hit than she plans. This weekend I knew as I always seem to that it was there; in fact, I couldn’t forget about it. Its easy availability is my downfall, which is why were one to examine the environs of my kitchen, I’d never be pinned for possession. All cupboards, cabinets, drawers and shelves are kept as free of the stuff as a normal, healthy household will allow, and if I bring it in, it won’t be there for long. I’ll make sure of that.

If it’s brown, I’ll eat it by the spoonful or the packed, roundish egg. if it comes to me in a syrupy form I’ll drizzle it atop yogurt, and when it’s white or grainy and cane I’ll whip it into cookies or quickbreads or cakes. Jams, jellies, sweetened soy milk and lesser forms of my personal smack I’ll take in a pinch, but they’re all to be deployed sparingly and with tiny spoons, preferably alone and never too frequently. Chocolate is perhaps my vehicle of choice, with ice cream oozing in a close second. Whether the craving is in my genes or the self-wrought compulsion of a recovering obese child I know not. Really, it doesn’t matter: the outcome is the same. After a period of being clean, of clearing my skin, of wriggling free of a layer of toxic puffery, I kneel to my addiction’s siren song, roll amongst its powdery crystals. The first hint sets it off and I’m gone.

Sugar in all its forms: I belong to it, and if there were ever a season by which my addiction and I are both firmly owned, Christmas is the one.

This weekend was marked by holiday cheer, by warmth and snuggery in a different family setting, and feeding almost guiltlessly my addiction to the sweet stuff. I head home now, ensconced in a quiet compartment on the Intercity Express, my belt a notch or two looser and a twisted melange of guilt and satiety lodged in my slightly heftier gut. This is Caitlin Schiller, confirmed sugar addict, checking in from the road to Berlin.

Not long ago I wrote about the hardships of being far from my family at Christmastime. It was as sad as I’d expected, but Niels’ sweet, thoughtful and kindly mother and quirky cake-eating father made it not quite so hard. We arrived in Bad Pyrmont on Friday night, just in time for abendbrot. After a sit down in the family’s living room where it was confirmed (of course) that German TV didn’t get any less craptastic during the month in which I’ve been away from it and also two delicate glasses of sekt, I was out like a light. Niels and I slept for nearly ten hours. We started Christmas Eve day late, the day’s activities including making a pan of beautiful pierogi and decorating the family tree. It is his family’s tradition to decorate on Christmas eve. Mostly, it was just nice to have a Christmas experience at all. It was restful, it was full of cooking and Nature Channel watching and cake eating.

Look at those beauties: home made potato and cheese pierogis to make any Polish grandmother proud!

All in all, it was a sweet weekend, and belly, my leggings and my heart are all very full.

…and now for detox, or to risk allowing the Dark Passenger to take over my body (and to fill out all the clothes in my closet).


Can I Borrow Your Emotional Thesaurus?

Music – Sean Hayes, When We Fall In

Back in the back in the day, I was a girl who had a livejournal. There is so much self-indulgent bullshit contained therein that, perusing it once more (which I admit is in itself a self-indulgent activity), I marvel at how deeply immersed in forging my own character by declaration, by emphatic type on screen, and with tough-on-the-outside wisecracks I actually was. I forgot about that girl to whom my livejournal belonged, how badass she was and how plucky and fetteredly bold. Her own emotions embarrassed her; being in love was terrifying and hard, but she did it brazenly and backwardly and in the only way she knew how: with yearning and with words. Her own light was something from which she shrugged, dealings in self deprecation, her specialty. But sometime in 2007, before that girl left for her Fulbright, or Spain, Round II, she abandoned tealywhitman for something a little different. She shrugged into a more mature, slightly less Emo internet ensemble, though she never could quite quit the side-bangs. And there on the Iberian peninsula, she slowly disappeared, rarified into a creature more wordly, more hardy and sturdily wise.

I’m here to say that for all of her failings, her insecurities and her inability to speak her heart, I still like that girl, and I appreciate her now in a way I was not able when her life was the one on the surface. She was tender. She was scared, and she was trying. She was also goddamn funny. I wish that, six years later, I could steal back there and wrap my arm around her shoulders (though she would’ve hated that) and tell her a few things. One, that night when you’re going to drink half a bottle of 151 yourself? Don’t do that. Also, stop exercising so rabidly: the niggling suspicion that you’re going to irrevocably hurt yourself is not just a suspicion. But mostly, I’d tell her things that would calm her turbid soul: namely that life would get unimaginably better, that somebody unimaginably great would love her, that she’d travel to Saxon shores and learn other languages and be able to cook really fantastic things.

But of course, I can’t do any of those things. All I can do is learn from her and take this lesson now, and I think it’s one we could all stand to soak in: when you look in the mirror, be a little kinder with your appraisal. When your legs take you somewhere–even if it’s somewhere abysmal and dank like the DMV, the Ausländerbehörde or the German Post–appreciate what they just did, and appreciate all the parts that made it happen. Hey. Listen. That tiny bone in your ankle? It does magical shit, for real. So act appreciative. Now. And when you sit beside someone lovely and they tell you you’re beautiful, smile and feel it and believe. And don’t be scared to accept a hug: it feels nice.

You know what else was pretty nice? Something I loved about LiveJournal was that, at the top of each entry, the blogger could indicate the song to which he or she was listening, thus sharing a little of the ambiance that went into crafting that particular post. If you’re a person music junkie like me, that was a really lovely thing to be able to share. I think that in the spirit of personal webspaces past, I’ll start to include links to what I’m listening to at the top of my entries.

Another interesting-if-SadEmoKid embellishment was the mood icon. The idea was to choose one of the faces that ostensibly reflected your mood whilst writing. There were of course a number of stock moods provided: “happy,” “depressed,” “excited,” or “angry,” numbered among the few and the proud. But then there was my favorite–the possibility to choose a face and assign your own mood. I remember now the LiveJournal period of my life as being one during which I was very in touch with how I was feeling, and I actually hold that that ridiculous, vestigial little mood icon had something to do with it. My emotional vocabulary was enormous: the nuances! The flavors! I didn’t want to just be “happy” or “depressed” or “psyched” or “sleepy,” I wanted to run the searching fingertips of my mind along a braille emotional thesaurus and encounter the topography that felt exactly, perfectly right. I wanted to know, you see, how to label the thing that was inhabiting my expressions and outlook, and you know what? I did it. I groped around in the viscousy night of my feelings, and I figured it out. Despite not being of the sort that hikes the heart rate or tones the thighs, it was a really good exercise. While I don’t think that I’ll be importing that little doodad to the present from my LJ past–it’s just too self indulgent, even for me–I think that actually inspecting how one is feeling, not just chalking malaise up to PMS or hunger or the latest Twilight movie is a habit to curate.

How did this happen? This was destined to be a post about birthdays and houseware and where in the world I’ve been all week (hint: in front of the internet, working, and waiting in endless lines at the damnable German post office, which is a lot like the hell that is the bank in Spain). But now it’s late, and my boyfriend is building kitchen cabinets, working toward the next slice of promised salted caramel cheesecake Birthday pie he’s set himself as a reward for the task. To speed this day along to sleep, I think I’ll go snufflingly assist, taking my  second German  headcold and packet of tissues along for the ride. I’ll leave you with this image and a promise to come back tomorrow and talk about scones, editing, physical therapy (yay!) and the joys of baking things.


P.S. No more shittastic Photobooth photos requiring me to put my Macbook in compromising positions in order to acquire subpar shots! I’m glad to report that the ailing Android is back from the shop and once again possesses the very useful capacity of typing Cs and Rs, and using the multi-option key. Now, if I could only get my real camera fixed…

One step at a time, Caitlin, one step at a time–especially on that weak ankle.

Homes and Holidays

I have never been a Christmas card writer, but what I have always been, wholly and undeniably, is a crier. Snuggled into what is becoming my wonted nook in our marshmallow of a couch, I leaned over a greeting card emblazoned with an auroral Christmas tree. I wrote.

“Though I won’t be home with you this year at Christmas, thus defying the vow I made four years ago when I swore I’d never spend another holiday away from home, I hope that I can at least say it’s for a good reason. I’m creating a home here, one that I hope is as gracious and full of love as the one in which you raised me, and one to which I can’t wait to welcome you both sometime soon.”

I wrote, and I cried.

It’s hard to be away from your parents at the holidays, especially when you have a family who’s always outdone itself to make Christmas markedly special. The household of my childhood was one of multiple Christmas trees, of magical ceramic villages nestled between mounds of gently heaping artificial snow, of hermit cookies topped with glistening beads of sugar, thick and pungent with molasses and cloves. There was a mother who taught me to tie the most beautiful bows and unfailingly filled my stocking with the exactly perfect things. There was a father who every year swore he would never again string another set of Christmas lights, and every year continued to do the most stunning job, transforming the humble evergreen into a glowing kingdom ripe for the wanderings of my dolls, toy ponies and enchanted eyes. He suffered, after having sustained the scrapes and nicks of the piney boughs, over an endless bowl of citrus fruit, patiently separating oranges and grapefruits from their membranes despite the acid’s bite upon his skin. He pared apples and sliced bananas, parting beautiful pineapples and coming to find me, wherever I lounged, to present a glistening piece of fruit in the palm of his hand or pop an apple slice into my mouth. The ways in which my father showed me he loved me were subtle.

As I got older and moved only a city away to college and then eventually across the Atlantic, Christmas was a time I anticipated with glee. But it wasn’t just the season, it was the going home. In November I could feel it gathering in the month’s tail end, the days growing shorter, the lights in Puerta del Sol going up. I bought exotic presents–an olivewood cup, a pair of glimmering filigree earrings from a little town outside of my adoptive hometown–and flew them to my real one to deposit beneath the Christmas tree.

The first night’s sleep in my bed after four, six, seven months away was always a relief. I was home. I was safe. In the morning there would be uncomplicated coffee and my mother’s smiling face. There was nothing else I needed. Nothing except, perhaps, every one of the Lindt truffles in the cut glass bowl that always materializes on the Schiller family hoosier around December 25th. Thinking of it now I yearn for that feeling–that particular bouquet of safety, festivity and familiarity, unattainable though it may be. That house no longer belongs to us and my family’s zipcode is now a few numbers East. But the coffee stays the same, and my mother’s smile never gets old.

But this December is different. In two weeks, Niels and I will with our suitcases and two promised cakes head West to his family, not to mine. There will be coffee and I am told there will be a tree. There will be no mother slaving over a pot of creamed onions and no father comically dancing to Dominick the Christmas Donkey.

I’m not sure how Christmas will happen this year minus the going home, minus the embraces of my parents, my dad’s incomparable fruit salad, my mother’s infallible chirpy warmth and wonderful cooking–I think I’ve erased the memory of my only other holiday without them from my mind. I don’t know how Christmas will feel without both of them, but as I wrote them in the card I can only hope they’ll receive before the 25th, I hope that this year finds me away from them for a good reason. I hope that I’m creating not a replacement home, but an alternative one–a home for the future.

The jolly little tree that stands in our apartment may not boast a Steve Schiller caliber light job, and my icebox hermits are mysteriously never as good as those my mother scooped in balls from the bowl of chilled dough, handing to her little and then bigger daughter to roll in sparkling white sugar, but I do hope that between Niels and me, we can fill it with grace and good cheer for any guest who might knock on the door. At the very least, I know we can fill it with good cooking smells, plans for the future and a lot of love.

So. This one goes out to my mom and dad. I love you both immensely, and not just at Christmas time. The missing you is awful, but  I can’t help but feel very blessed that mine is a family good, kind, and nice enough to miss.

Hug your parents, y’all: they deserve it. Or if they don’t, go and hug mine, once for you and two times for me, from afar.

Welcome to Cardboard Castle

I wish that I knew a few bums.

Since Sunday’s shopping trip and the subsequent shucking of a behemoth wardrobe, a sofa, two desks, four chairs, a stool and probably something else I’m forgetting of their protective cardboard husks, Niels and I have replaced what is (someday) to be our office with a corrugated paper pit. It’s like the Chuckee Cheese ball pen, but with extra Drab (and less mucous of unknown origin). Niels has been searching for a nearby recycling center to take what probably amounts to about 35 lbs. of cardboard, but it’s occurred to me that what we need isn’t actually a paper disposal center: it’s a fleet of vagabonds. If I could get a few street-dwellers–say 6-8–in here to take away the Ikea leavings and use them for good (sleep sack padding, wind blocks from that biting Berlin breeze), I’d be glad to provide a meal  to go along with it–plus booze! The problem lies in contacting a battery of bums: how would one go about such a thing? If there is a network, I am unequipped to penetrate its parameters. Perhaps there is a long line of tin-can telephones somewhere hidden in the shrubbery and signage of Berlin. I’ll keep a lookout for it, or perhaps start publicizing my willingness to dole out a meal for cardboard removal. Who knows who might show up?

For example–the skeletal, down on his luck looking dude wearing a tatty santa hat whom I saw yesterday. He was so thin, so oddly clad in gray, dirty jeans, a cracked and dry looking leather jacket, 5 o’clock shadow and a santa hat that looked as though it had been used to scrub the floor in a regional train with service to Mudville, that I feared for him. I was also slightly afraid of him, because as we passed on the street he lit a cigarette, gave it an emphatic, hollow-cheeked suck and looked directly into my eyes with something that fell squarely between menace and disdain. Perhaps he was not, in fact, a bum, but an exceptionally dirty, ironically capped hipster, which in addition to being possibly threatening, means he might not be much good for cardboard removal.

Anyway, with the cardboard pit contained in the middle room and the door shut, I can almost pretend that we’re moved in. Our Christmas tree glows sweetly before me and I’m settled into the crook of a new warm, dark gray couch. We’ve also got four dining room chairs I’ll be staining sometime next week. Even if it left us with piles of unwieldy paper refuse, I’d say our Ikea trip was a rollicking success.

It also means that Niels and I (but mostly Niels: I am largely a soda and tool jockey) have been building furniture until late at night for the past 2 days. I’m tired. He’s tired. I haven’t had time or energy to blog much, and because we’re headed to see Alexi Murdoch at the Berlin Heimathafen, this entry’s also doomed to be quite short. You might notice that it’s also photo-less due to the Android having been checked into the hospital. It was getting damn annoying not being able to use the “e,” “c” and multi option keys.

I’ll be back probably tomorrow with more to say . ‘Til then, may Hump Day (known as “Bergfest” or “mountain party” to Germans) treat you right!

*Edit: What I need isn’t a fleet of bums, it’s a team of GOATS! Goats for hire in Berlin? Anyone?

Your Message Displease Hopping Owl,* Hopping Owl Sad.

This weekend I’ve learned something rather ugly about myself, courtesy of Ikea: I do not deal well with unfulfilled expectations.

We awoke this morning without an alarm, a nice change from the work week’s customary 7:30. Ikea didn’t open ’til 10:00, so we could afford to sleep in to the luxurious hour of 8:30, wan Berlin light seeping in through the slight crack in the Jalousien before I was awake enough to track its arrival. I hopped out of bed, strapped on my trusty ankle brace and skittered across the apartment’s chilly rooms to the bathroom to shower, giddily anticipatory of a day of furniture acquisition that would promise a long-awaited embargo on endless open boxes bloated with sweaters and messy, apathetic suitcases dangling twisted pantlegs like denim innards. Niels was making coffee when I emerged from the bathroom.

“You know, we should check again on the Ikea website how long it takes to deliver,” he noted, measuring ground beans into the press.
“I’m on it!” I replied,  childishly hopeful that by dint of some Swedish meatball studded enchantment we’d be supplied with chairs and a medicine cabinet before the day was out. After having surfed the Ikea website for only about 20 seconds, it  hit: disaster.

“Oh no!” despaired Niels from where he hovered over my shoulder, “They only open at 1:00!”
I had failed to note this crucial piece of information, assuming that Sunday opening hours were identical to Saturday’s (we had planned on our caravan to Ikea happening yesterday, but my ankle went suddenly, painfully wonky and I didn’t have the stamina to go).
“NO!” I cried, “How can this be? No! What will we do for three hours?” I was surprised to note I was seriously distraught.
Thanks goodness I’m not dramatic.
“Well, we could cuddle?” Niels offered, thoughtfully curbing his laughter at my sudden, violent reaction, “And I can make eggs!”

With that, my ever resourceful and plucky boyfriend shuffled off to the kitchen to get breakfast underway whilst I sat at our kitchen table in our only chair and sulked, visions of Ingo Chairs that I’d stain in pretty, antiqued colors dancing in my disappointed head.

Perhaps it’s an affliction particularly devastating to the imaginative–much akin to the problem of being all to well equipped to conjure monsters into the closet, calamitous airline disasters into fiery being and anything at all, supernatural or otherwise, into the dark? The capacity to flesh out a round, lively impression of the near future, of just how a moment will go, of inhabiting that future and filling it with the appropriate emotions–excitement, anticipation, fear or dread–is in some ways a boon. It makes one, for example, a respectable writer and pretty good at empathy. It’s also, however, a serious emotional liability. Damn it, I could TASTE those Spekuloos cookies at 8:30 this morning! I was already perched upon my new kitchen chairs! I don’t deal well with disappointment and changes of plan imposed from the outside that may deprive me of seeing my fervent imaginings dashed  upon the rocks of unexpected opening hours hurt.

I think this is all just a fancy way of avoiding admitting that I’m a brat.

But luckily, I have Niels to save the day. Just as I was getting a grip on my furniture-deprivation-doldrums, he materialized from the kitchen bearing steaming crocks of eggs mixed with roasted red peppers, black olives and feta, not to mention the ever crucial coffee. We breakfasted together on his bright blue exercise mat, munching and gazing at our fat, happy little Christmas tree. My bleak mood slowly drained away as I chewed, expertly constructed scramble quelling the beast inside.

We’ve spent the morning lazing around the house, internetting, and enjoying our first Sunday in the new apartment. I’ve learned that the bells of Gethsemane Church clang at 10:30 on Sundays, and that fluffy goosedown pillows (purchased yesterday at Dänisches Bettenlager, where a string of star-lights, some trivets, a kitchen clock and new pillowcases were also acquired) are almost impossible to squarely wrangle into cases. Niels also fixed that for me. :/

Here’s what Sunday has looked like so far.

Poor sleepy Niels. I take such photographic advantage of him. The next picture will fully showcase how adorable a man he actually is.

And this also happened yesterday. We found a tiny truck on the way to Dänisches Bettenlager. Being a person who never learned to ride a bike and also perpetually cold since having moved to Germany, I think this tiny 3-wheeled truck might be an ideal next ride for me.

Anyhow, it’s T-1 hour until we depart for Ikea, and I am so ready. Those cookies and those chairs will be mine, even if I have to bust the door in with my racecrutches.

Reports on the experience that is a weekend at Ikea to follow. Bis gleich and happy Sunday, kiddlies.

*Hopping owl might be a decent early-people moniker for me, considering my spirit animal and my continued inability to walk without crutches.

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