26 December, 2005

Rarefaction

Just read a post in the Chopsticks blog that made me remember what it was like to be a foreigner living in a foreign country and wondering whether the foreignness will ever diminish.

Feng-Mei Heberer, who is spending a year in China, wishes that the day-to-day lifwe in her newly adopted country of residence become “selbstverständlich ohne an zu Entdeckendem” (very rough translation: self-evident yet, retain a sense of constant discovery).

About a year after I moved to Germany, I went to a reading of an author (sorry, forget her name) who was born in Poland, eventually moved to Australia via France and then, after many years, to Britian. Her’s was a holocaust survival story, written beautifully and fluidly in her adopted language, English.

After the reading, someone in the audience asked her why she wrote in English, her third language (French was her second), instead of in Polish. She said she did this because it was a challenge to write about her life’s experiences in a language which she spoke fluently but was not her mother tongue. The foreignness of the language rarefied her childhood memories and sharpened her sense of lost without coating it in sentimentality.

She also said that she had come to embrace her foreignness. She liked living in London as a foreigner, simply because she would/could never become complacent. She could never just wander through a day without posing questions, making comparisons, or embracing newness.

20 December, 2005

Holding on by the Skin of my Teeth

One more day of work and then two and a half weeks of vacation! I can hardly wait, for I am completely stressed out: though, on the brighter side, quite a few good developments have begun to show in two or three of the school projects.

In particular, two teachers whose students are doing pilot blogging projects at their school, have told me that they are seriously considering two further, long term blogging projects. The scope and timeframe of these new projects are bigger and longer than the present ones.


I am particularly pleased that the teachers were not discouraged by the mediocre, in my opinion, results of the students in their present blogs. The teachers were very sovereign about the initial outcome and optimistic that the students would eventually understand the essence of blogging with time and exposure.

Tomorrow, I am taking a train up to Kiel with a high school teacher, who also teaches at the University of Kiel, with her 9th grade students to present their project. I will give a presentation about our research project. It is going to be a long day.

If all goes well, I plan to be decorating the Christmas tree with my dear-hearts tomorrow evening, after having indulged in a warm meal and drunken a fine glass of red wine. Bliss.

17 December, 2005

When They Start Hanging

I overheard a fun conversation on the bus this afternoon between two elderly women (60-70 years). They were dressed up and on their way to the Christmas party. I suspect their hearing aids were turned down, because the front half of the bus had no difficulty hearing what they said ...

At one point in our journey, the bus drove by an elaborate store window display of evening wear. One of the women comments about the evening gowns and how they skimp so much on the material around the bosoms that it is impossible to wear a bra.

Her friend responded with the observation that once our breasts start to hang down, loosing their battle with gravity, it is time to use “support and lace” to handle the situation. Though she personally enjoys a bit of freedom and goes braless when she is working in her garden. She assures her friend, it is ok to do this because it’s only she and the birds that can see.

16 December, 2005

Paraphrasing

Reading a scifi series again. A few times a year, I reread some of my favourite fantasy, scifi, murder mystery series. Just finishing of the last, of about ten, “Vorkosigan Adventure” books from Lois McMaster Bujold.

Yesterday’s book (yes, we are talking about mass consumption here: 10 books in about 12 days on last count) had two really good quotes, which I can only paraphrase:

It’s easier to get forgiveness than it is permission.

The difference between heaven and hell, is the company you keep there.

Now, maybe both are much used sayings, but they did strike me as being very astute. I especially like the second one in respect to heaven and hell on earth. Where would I be without my wonderful, eclectic, crazy collection of family and friends?

11 December, 2005

Food for Thought

For all those who have, haven't, or are dubious about having children, here is food for thought.

Embarrassing Stuff

The family is cozing down to a National Lampoon Christmas movie. Talk about culture shock. I can not quite grasp the concept about my Italian hubby and two German kids chuckling away to all the slapstick sketches.

I find watching the movie too embarrassing, and though I can’t explain why, it is so. So I prefer to be writing my blog and just hearing the occasional good piece of music from the movie's sound track, inter-dispersed with a lot of yelling and screaming and sound effects of people falling down.

10 December, 2005

Sheriff Santa

We had a motorcycle entourage of Santa Clauses ride by our apartment today: BMWs, Harleys, Suzukis, etc. One motorcycle had Sheriff written across its body, which clashed nicely with the official police motorist. Maybe thirty or more Santa Claus motorists, in full Santa regalia, minus motorcycle helmets, drove by under police siren (also dressed up). What a fun and funny sight it was.

07 December, 2005

Foul Mood

Why is everyone in a foul mood this week? Grumpy, scratchy, horrible puss faces abound.

In Everywoman this week they debate the following:

“Tall people – do they achieve more?

Did you know that the Netherlands is the tallest nation of people in the world?

Well according to research from the Scottish Universities of St Andrews and Stirling, they will have higher paid jobs, be more ambitious, and less interested in having children.”

Never having been able to use the term tall in relation to my person (except for that one time when I was travelling through China), this sort of talk makes be feel very inferior, or small… huh, maybe they do have a point.

I finally discovered an index of interesting German blogs in the Brigitte magazine. Looking forward to subscribing to a few.

03 December, 2005

Christmas Wonderland

Luebeck is an old town by European standards: the city was founded approximately 900 years ago. Its medieval architecture creates a perfect Christmas backdrop or cultural wonderland: music events, art exhibitions, Christmas market, etc. abound. I love this city at this time of year, for everyone tries to outdo each other, in a very northern, understated, but fine, manner.

Even the cynics/ Scrooges/ Bah-humbuggers, like me, have a hard time not to be cheered by the lighted candles, classical music, spicy smells, and people milling around enjoying each others’ company.













This person invited a brass orchestra to play in his apartment for the delight of all the passing shoppers.


















The Christmas Mark in the town centre is in full swing. Mulled wine (is that the right expression), roasted almonds, and traditional baked goods are sold to masses of Scandinavian tourist from dawn to dusk. Heavens, can those Scandinavians drink! I’ve heard they can even drink the Aussies under the table. (Now how is that for exposing two stereotypes?)


















Local goldsmith uses his living room centre piece each year in his shops window. Yes, aghast, it is a real stuffed reindeer. But done ever so tastefully, don’t you think?

01 December, 2005

Gathering Speed

The guys are due any minute now to install our DSL connection. We have, due to this building being built at the end of the 19th century, quite a few quirks when it comes to cabling.

I can’t wait to surf with speed. Undoubtedly, addictive.