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REBECCAH DEAN Posts

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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What I’m Listening To Today

These days Berlin is proving once again that summer is an optional season: gray skies, wind and rain that won’t let up. I hope summer’s back by the time we head to the Baltic Sea at the end of the week. In the meantime, I have to finish the world’s most boring translation. Here’s what I’m listening to while I concentrate on wooden, academic sentences:

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One Story Class Review: Become Your Own Best Editor

Years ago an old boyfriend told me a story about Flaubert and the comma which goes like this: Flaubert was editing the final copy of a story one morning. He had already revised the story many times, re-writing large sections of it. That morning he went through the story again and removed one comma, only one. Later he went for a walk in the garden, had lunch, called on friends but the whole time he was distracted. Should he really have taken out the comma? Just before dinner, he went to his desk and put it back in. The guy…

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Not so different after all…

When I first moved to Berlin, Internet access at home was not a given and cell phones still had buttons and antennas. DVDs were the stuff of early adopters and video cassettes of films not dubbed into German were very hard to find. I took German classes at the Hartknackschule and hung out afterwards on Nollendorfplatz, terrified I might order my coffee wrong at Café Berio. A lot has changed in 17 years. Now you can hang out in Neukölln and only hear English for days. You can get a full-time job at a start-up developing a sandwich delivery app,…

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Living Life in the Present Progressive

I’ve been teaching EFL for many years which has definitely made me a bit of a grammar junkie. There’s something very satisfying about being able to contrast the past simple and the present perfect in your sleep and knowing why a sentence like I will study economics sounds a little stiff and strange. Although I don’t do much actual teaching anymore, I have recently started working as a TEFL trainer. Most of my students are either in their early 20s or early 50s with not too much in between. I find it so endearing how motivated they are, how on fire…

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The Genius of Georg Kreisler

If things had worked out differently, Georg Kreisler might have written the bulk of his satricial songs in English. An Austrian Jew, Kreisler fled Vienna in 1938. He became a US citizen in 1943 and worked on movies with Charlie Chaplin after the war. But he couldn’t find his audience. In 1947, he was rejected by the record labels, his songs  dubbed “un-American.” Listen to this example and you’ll see why his songs might have been a little over the top on the black humor side for a 1940s American audience: In 1955, Kreisler returned to Europe where he spent…

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I Voted (the sticker proves it)

I moved to Berlin the last year of the Clinton administration. When Bush first got elected, I remember sitting in Cafe Rix, opening up a copy of Die Zeit and seeing a cartoon of George W. in a cowboy hat, swinging a Colt revolver. “Well, this can’t be good,” I thought. Little did I know his presidency would soon go from “not good” to very bad to downright terrifying. And I constantly got flack for it. “Hey, people. I didn’t vote for him.” I did still vote, even in the local California elections. I’d order an absentee ballot far in advance and…

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