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REBECCAH DEAN Posts

The Writer Formerly Known As Rebeccah Dean

Yes, it’s true. I’ve decided to start publishing my fiction under my married name, Rebeccah Von Schlieffen although legally I’m still Rebecca(h) Dean. My husband and I got married in San Francisco in 2007, but I didn’t change my name because it would have caused complications in Germany (or at least I assumed that was the case, knowing the country as I do). I thought about changing it when we got back to Berlin but I never did because a) I think the tradition of a woman taking on her husband’s name is an archaic throwback to the days when…

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Not One, But Two

So here’s the thing: Germany has the reputation for being a very organized and efficient country. This is true to a certain extent, but mostly what the country does best is makes things unnecessarily (and sometimes mind-bogglingly) complicated. Granted, American bureaucracy is also a pain in the ass, but for the most part, you can avoid its nastier sides, at least if you’re a citizen. But bureaucracy penetrates every part of German culture, not just governmental offices. You can always tell a fresh off the boat expat because they will always say things like, “Wait, why do I need that…

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The Nightmare That Is FATCA

Spread the word, people! p.s. Not quite sure why I’m looking over to the side at the beginning of the video. I think I thought that’s where the camera hole was. p.p.s. I forget to mention that FATCA (and citizenship based taxation) also affects ‘accidental Americans’, i.e. foreigners born in the United States because their parents were working there, etc. In many cases, these people never lived in the US, most likely have never had an American passport and maybe don’t even know that New York City is not in California (something I heard a lot from EFL students over…

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Bummeln Down Bergmannstrasse

Dear Phantom Reader, Do you live in a big city? If you do, is it a big city full of tourists? If it is, I’m sure you know something about virtual streets in trendy neighborhoods. Virtual streets aren’t seemingly touristy places like, say, Brandenburg Gate, Hackescher Markt or Check Point Charlie, if we’re talking about Berlin. But they’re made for tourists just the same. Hey, they say. Isn’t life great here? Wasn’t your guidebook right on the nose? I live about a ten minute walk from one of these streets: Bergmannstrasse. For most locals in Bergamannkiez, Bergmannstrasse starts and ends…

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Some German Tunes

This morning, nur aus Spaß (just for fun), I thought I’d share some of the German tunes that are on the various Spotify playlists I listen to every day when I working/writing. So here goes. Annett Louisan was all the rage in the early noughts, but I could never warm up to her voice, which sounds a little girlish and muppet-like at the same time. But I stumbled across this song a few months ago and loved it. The translation of the title of the song is “The Most Beautiful Paths Are Made Of Wood” and, to be honest, I…

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For The Love Of Clothes

When a friend recently dug up this picture she took of me the second year I lived in Berlin, my first thought was, OMG, that jacket! I inherited it from my aunt and it was the softest faux suede. I wore that jacket long after the elbows were worn out and it was too small for me because I love, love, loved it. I also thought, Oh yeah, that’s back when I preferred to wear muddy Earth tones. Rebeccah dear, what’s up with that belt? Why oh why did mom jeans ever come back into fashion? They look terrible on…

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A Blast From The Past

I’ve never really been one for nostalgia. For the most part, the past is the past and now is now. My life so far has been split up into uneven chunks, strange islands that are often only connected by a rope bridge and I sometimes have a hard time relating to the person I was when I lived on those other islands. I know people who have stayed in the same town or neighborhood, who have had the same favorite book since they were 17, whose taste in music had already set and gelled and hardened by 21. And this…

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The Streets Where I’ve Lived

This month marks the 20th anniversary of my life in Berlin. In another six years, I’ll have lived here longer than I ever lived in the US. Hard to believe, but it’s true. All this has gotten me nostalgic for all the streets where I’ve lived since I moved to this city. Here’s a little run-down: Krampnitzer Weg (I never officially lived here, but it was my entrance into the city) In 1995, I worked two jobs at Southland Mall in Hayward: one full-time at Waldenbooks and one part-time at Happy Donuts in the food court.  I worked these crazy…

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A Few Songs To Celebrate 20 Years

Yes folks, come April I will have lived in Berlin for 20 years. 20 years! It really seems surreal. I never planned to settle down here. I always thought one to two years Berlin, then back to the US for my MFA in creative writing. But then I applied to two programs and didn’t get in and a few years became more than a few years, then many years. The reasons to stay grew and the reasons to go back became less and less. Berlin was such an insanely cheap city for so long, a city for the lost, for…

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Richard Brautigan Used To Prop Open My Window

Dear Phantom Reader, As I know you are also an avid reader, I’m sure this story is familiar to you: You hear a tip somewhere from someone about a book that sounds interesting so you pick up a copy of said book only to later toss it on the pile of other such similar books that you will read one day–or not. I do this all the time. Mostly I order these books I hear about on podcasts or read about in articles or see mentioned by a writer whose work I admire from used bookstores in the US. Since…

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