I have not blogged in 70,000 yearssss. Is blogging dead? Am I dead? Yes, probably, to both, but every few months I remember fondly the lovely little community over on Scathing Jellyfish (which somehow over the last year got another 80,000 hits? Like, who is reading it? Whoooo?) and how I used to post whole blogs about . . . cows. And cake. And visiting a renaissance fair. I don’t even know. And last year I lived in Japan, and did an internship in Prague, and blogged about pretty much none of it. Lame.
I’m moved! To Berlin. I love it. It’s very different from anywhere I’ve lived before, much more relaxed than Zürich, much huger than Prague. But the main difference is that people are soooooo busily active here.
Which is a change, let me tell you. I’m a merry lil’ introvert and can coast along happily on 2-3 meaningful social interactions per week.
Examples of meaningful social interactions for a Stefan:
- scurrying past my weird neighbour in the stairwell, both of us eying each other mistrustfully
- saying hello to the cashier at the grocery store and lol’ing at her jokes about my habit of buying large quantities of rucola and oatmeal.
- saying ‘Nope’ to that one guy on the corner with a smoochy-lips tattoo’d on his neck who keeps asking me for paper for his cigarette even though I’ve told him I don’t smoke and haven’t picked up the habit in the 24 hours since he last asked.
- Sitting with a friend on the banks of the Spree with my laptop and occasionally asking each other for synonyms.
One of any of those and I’m like, “Whew!” *wipes brow* *returns to apartment* *ensconces self*
But in BERLIN this . . . doesn’t fly. Here it seems like everyone is always doing things. And not work things.
Kind, well-meaning Berliner friends: “Stefan, d’you want to come to my sister’s aunt’s baby’s baby shower? Do you want to grill radishes in an abandoned airport? Do you want to protest nuclear armaments, but like in a fun, cute way? Do you want to sacrifice a goat to an obscure moon goddess and bathe in its entrails while listening to Enya?”
And I’m like, “I kind of just want to sit on my balcony and write short stories.”
And they’re like, “NO. THE MOON GODDESS AWAITS HER SACRIFICE.” *pulls a screaming goat by its horns from flow-y shoulder-bag*
So somehow I still end up bathing in entrails while listening to Enya.
(I’m kidding, issa joke, I would never, and anyway 99% of Berliners seem to be vegetarian, so they would never either.)
(Also, I think old-school Berliners might protest that statement, but look, Hypothetical Old-school Berliner who somehow stumbled across this blog: there are a lot of vegetarians here, ok? Ok. Thanks for reading.)
Random Berlin things:
- Berlin is not a pretty city. In fact, it’s kinda ugly, and kinda proud of it. I live in a particularly scruffy part of town with all the hipsters and stoners and artistes. I’m very boring and commonplace among all these people with their bowl-cuts and little black sunglasses and fanny packs and trousers that stop well above the ankle, but I love it anyway. It’s cozy and friendly in its scruffiness, and I feel super comfortable here, because I can live my dream of shuffling down to the local shop in flip flops. And granted, you can be a slob anywhere, no one will probably push you down a well, but in Berlin it’s almost encouraged.
- Shisha bars that smell like candy – In the military, one of my sergeants smoked a small portable steam pipe called a shisha. It looked like this. His flavour of choice was straciatella, and he would walk around in a cloud of the stuff, and when you smelled that cloud of straciatella moving toward you out of the depths of barracks or wintry woods, you knew you had to jump up and look BUSY AND RESPECTABLE, because otherwise he would shout at you and call you names, as is wont and customary in the military. Though I’m not 100% sure how shishas work, I think you can stuff it with various special things and set it on fire, and it gives off a really strong, candy-sweet aroma. Sometimes it smells like marshmallows. Sometimes it smells like Maoams? If you’re German, you know the smell. It’s like *breathing* candy. Inhaling it, if you will.
In Berlin, especially in my neighbourhood were there are a lot of Turkish restaurants and bars, I smell that same straciatellia steam floating on the air and am like, “WHERE IS HE?” *wheels around in a panic, expecting to drop to the ground and do twenty* But he’s not there. So that’s nice.
- A few weeks ago, a homeless gentleman on crutches asked me for money outside my apartment. I told him truthfully I didn’t have any because I WAS JOGGING, OK, and I jog without my wallet in case I get mugged because then they’ll just murder me but at least my wallet’s fine and can live a full and happy life with its wallet family. Anyway, I said I had none and went inside, but then I felt super bad, because what if he was in dire straits? What if he had 19 starving children, or carpal tunnel syndrome, or any of number of problems, and I could help in some small way? So I grabbed two fistfuls of coins from the change plate in my apartment and hurry downstairs to give it to him and he was nowhere to be found, and I was just standing in the street with handfuls of coins and all the hipster Berliners were passing me like, “Are you an art installation?”
Every once in a while I pass him again on my jogs and he gives me a dirty look, and I want to be like, “Sir, I need you to know that I had VERY good intentions, like the communists, but you did not allow me to enact my plans.”
The moral of the story is that when someone asks you for money either say no and stick with it, or tell them to wait while you go get it, but don’t have dramatic changes of hearts halfway up the stairs, mmmkay? Mmkay.
That’s that. Have a nice day. 🙂