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REBECCAH DEAN Posts

Harry Nilsson, Where Have You Been All My Life?

I’m not one of those people who needs silence to concentrate. The opposite is true: I need sound, I need music. As I write this post I’m at Hallesches Haus, digging the commotion around me while I listen to my playlists on Spotify with my red Bowers & Wilkens earphones, a Christmas present from my husband last year and so much better than those cheap earbuds I used for years and years and years. Depending on my mood, the music I listen to ranges from Lou Reed to Pergelosi’s Stabat Mater, Stacey Kent to a Tribe Called Quest, Bill Evans…

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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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Motherless Child

No song can make me weep as much as the spirtual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. Why is that? My mother is still alive and well, though she’s always been more of a peer and a pal than someone who fits the bill of the great mother archetype. True, I am a long-time expat—I am and will always be part alien here, an eternal Ausländer—but in many ways I feel more at “home” in Berlin than I ever did in California. Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home When I listen to this song it’s like…

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Vladimir, Ya tebya lyublyu

In men, the physical type I’m most attracted to is what they call a Kerl in German. Not too pretty, not too tall; tough and stoic, but emotionally explosive underneath. Harvey Keitel in The Piano; Gabriel Byrne in Miller’s Crossing; Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West. I’ve never actually been involved with this type of man in real life—personality wise, I doubt we’d be compatible—but in movies they still make me weak in the knees. The hottest of the silver screen Kerls? Hands down, the Russian actor and singer Vladimir Vysotsky. Check out this video from 1974, the…

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What I’m listening to today

  These days I have work coming out of my ears, though most of it isn’t particularly interesting. But that’s what I love about being freelance: these crazy rushes where I put in ten hour days, my brain at the end a nearly liquified mass and later weeks of not much else to do other than twiddle my thumbs. Unfortunately this work rush is keeping me from doing the writing I actually want to do, but at least I can freely choose my soundtrack. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve listening to today to get me through what I gotta…

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Forever 35

When I was 35, I opened up an online vintage clothing store. Although I sold a lot of dirndls, I also had plenty of other stuff from the 40s to the early 80s. I could have easily found clothes from the later 80s and 90s and charged jacked up prices to hipsters the world over, but I just couldn’t do it. Why? Because a) selling a sweater I might have actually worn in the 7th grade felt very wrong and b) the 90s are vintage? Really?? I started running the shop in our apartment, but my husband soon started to complain about…

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Telegraph Avenue Saved My Life

Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating. But between the ages of 13 and 25, Telegraph Avenue was one of the most important places in my world. In my teens, I was on Telegraph at least twice a week, making a pilgrimage to Cody’s or Moe’s or standing in line at Fat Slice only to have the lead singer of the Counting Crows snatch up the last slice of vegetarian pizza right in front of me (true story). I drank my first cup of coffee at a cafe, long gone, on Durant Avenue across from Yogurt Park. Alright, I admit it: it…

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Wörlitz and Lady Hamilton’s Orgy Caves

When I was in my mid-twenties, I thought the perfect life was one where all my possessions fit easily into two suitcases. I moved seven times the first six years I lived in Berlin, eight if you count the few months I stayed at a friend’s apartment after I left my first husband. I loved to move: to walk down new streets, meet new neighbors in the hall, have new experiences, surprises and sometimes disappointments. I lived cheaply and travelled as often as I could. But in 2006, I met my soon-to-be second husband. Things moved fast and I had a…

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The Class of Classical

No lie: The first time I really fell in love with a piece of classical music was on an episode of The Twilight Zone. The story had something to do with a couple in 19th century dress living in a doll house and someone watching them from outside—I don’t remember the exact details. But I do remember the music. At the beginning and end of the episode, the woman in the dollhouse sat at the piano and played the song in the video above—Mozart’s sonata KV331, though I didn’t know it at the time—accompanied by Rod Serling’s voiceover. The music…

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