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Tag: personal essay

Charlottenburg, Ich Hab’ Dich Gern

An old expat friend of mine had this theory that the part of Berlin you first move to is where you eventually return if the city becomes your permanent home, not just a year-or-two passing through until you go back to where you come from or, if you’re a millenial, move on to Barcelona or Lima or Koh Tao or wherever your little digital nomad heart takes you. (Sometimes I envy the selbstverständlich free roaming spirit of millenials, but that’s probably just me being your run-of-the-mill angsty GenXer). I’d say her theory works somewhat in practice, at least when it comes…

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Say Hi To God For Me

In early February, we went to Bavaria for the winter school holidays like we usually do. My husband and daughters went skiing and I hung out in the vacation apartment on a working farm in the tiny village of Winkl where I read, wrote, and took a long walks through the snowy woods. Whenever we go to this part of Bavaria I always ask myself why the hell we still live in Berlin. Sure, Berlin is exciting, but the city can also be incredibly unfriendly and downright exasperating. The weather is dark and damp and cold a good five months out…

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Fermata Moment

In our teens and early 20s my sister and I were inseparable, Siamese twins born two years apart. “Do you guys ever do anything separately?”, people asked us at Chabot Community College, half judgey, half in awe. “No,” we told them. “Never ever.” We both worked at Waldenbooks, both went to Chabot, shared a car and lived at home, at least in separate rooms. When we got off work we sped down Crow Canyon Road all the way to San Ramon, dissed it for the plastic suburb it was, then turned around and drove back home. What else was there to do? We…

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The Secret To Eternal Youth

My grandmother on my mother’s side turned 90 last year and for whatever reason, she never went gray. A mere decade away from becoming a centernarian, her hair is the same light brown it always was. Still a natural brunette at 66, my mom inherited the same genetic anomaly. I was keeping my fingers crossed the same would be true for me, but then a spider web of gray started cropping up at my hairline in my late 30s, which I now dye away every couple of months. A streak of gray might be ok in my 50s, but in…

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Daddy’s Girl

My sister’s first truly serious boyfriend lived in the in-law unit of a rundown Victorian on Ashby Avenue, a few houses from the corner to Shattuck. Before I met him, I remember wondering who lived in that house. I was in my very early twenties and still not much of a driver and turning left onto Shattuck from Ashby was always a semi-traumatic experience. I’m not sure why I made so many left turns onto Shattuck, but for some reason I did. I guess that’s why I noticed the house. It was always the last thing I saw before I…

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Stubborn Late Adopter

When God decided which attributes to grant my character and countenance as I was knit together in my mother’s womb, I believe it went down like this: Omnipotent one: A sense of direction? Nah, this one doesn’t need that. Why don’t we give her the uncanny ability to remember useless animals facts no one really needs to know instead? The result of his/her decision, declared in the royal we? I can literally get lost walking around the block, like I did in Vancouver, Canada when I was 17. But did you know kangaroos have three vaginas and a group of…

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Bowie And The Last Of The High School Virgins

January 10, 2016 I’m in the middle of a big translation project for a tourism company here in Berlin and the project is due at the end of the week, but fuck: how can I translate a text about Hitler’s Bunker when the Thin White Duke is dead? I take a break I can’t afford to record a song in Bowie’s honor. Bowie: 1. Hitler: 0. In high school, Bowie was my musical god, right up there with the Violent Femmes and the Ramones. I had a light gray cassette of his greatest hits which I listened to while showering…

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What Do You Want From Us?

In 1998, about six months before I moved to Berlin, I got a full-time job at a call center in the Embarcadero for a company called Aegis. The company offered a mortgage acceleration program; they took people’s mortgage payments out of their bank accounts with a certain amount consistently added on top of the principle, so their mortgage was paid off at a faster rate. The program was on the pricey side and stupid really, since in theory anyone could do this by themselves. But I didn’t really mind it because we were allowed to be honest. When people called…

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EFL 1: The SKB

I started my “career” in teaching English as a Foreign Language in 2001. I wrote “career” instead of career because, other than selling macrame potholders and hemp seed salad dressing at the farmer’s market or getting stoned and watching telenovelas all day when you don’t speak Spanish, there’s nothing more hippie and/or slacker-like than teaching EFL. At least where I started: the Sprach- und Kulturbörse, SKB for short, a language and culture institute tied to Technische Universität Berlin. The SKB was formed in 1989 by a couple of left-wing sociology students who used the winter semester strike of 88/89—which they most likely…

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