The 63rd thing I love about living in Berlin…

Somewhere, out there...
Somewhere, out there…

The mystery of the Tuesday morning mini-mariachi serenade.

Six or seven times now since moving to Berlin, I’ve heard live mariachi-style music coming from not too far down our street. It wasn’t until the third time that I realized the music wasn’t some random event, and so I started paying attention.

The first detail I noticed was that it seems to happen only on Tuesday mornings. Early last Tuesday morning, I made sure to open the windows wide so I wouldn’t miss it like I had on previous weeks.

This turned out to be an excellent fact-finding strategy. With the windows open, I heard the music the moment it started and quickly wrote down the time (10:28 am, in case you’re wondering). While I listened,  I also made a note on my calendar so I’d remember to be waiting the following Tuesday. Continue reading

Rüdi-Net LESEFEST today!

LESEFESTLooking for something fun to do this sunny Saturday in Berlin? Check out the Rüdi-Net LESEFEST in the Rüdesheimer Platz neighborhood in Wilmersdorf!

You can find the entire program with  a list of authors and presentation topics here. I’ll be giving my talk — What an American Author Loves about Living in Berlin — at 4, 5, 6 and 7 pm in the IBZ Clubraum. A local bookseller will have books from many of the participating authors available in the Clubraum between my presentation times, and I hear there will be cake and coffee, too!

There will be are a ton of other authors speaking through the neighborhood on topics for both kids and adults, so don’t miss out…

The 58th thing I love about living in Berlin…




Since I grew up in Southern California, the undisputed movie mecca of the world, it should be no surprise that I absolutely love films. We did almost all of our movie watching the last few years in the US at home, so I’m thrilled that Kino (cinema) dates with my Love have become a big part of our life here in Berlin. For my Christmas present, said Love even promised as many movies as we could fit in during the two week Berlinale, or 2013 Berlin Film Festival.

A week-long school vacation right at the Berlinale’s start last week meant a delay in our movie-going extravaganza for a trip to Salzburg (though that certainly counted in a way, considering the cavalcade of all things Sound of Music we experienced there). With just four days of Berlinale goodness left, we’re now catching up big time with six films on our agenda before the festival closes on Sunday.

First up is The Broken Circle Breakdown, a film from Belgium/The Netherlands that we’ll be seeing early this evening. I’ll be back tomorrow with a brief review and the title of our next selection…

The 57th thing I love about living in Berlin…


Slipsliding past the boundaries of my everydaynormal to do new (and sometimes scary) things.

There’s nothing like moving to a new country (especially a country where you don’t quite yet speak the language) to shake things up, and our move to Germany last summer has definitely given me a whole lot of shaking. But because I’m a writer and most of that writing is done in our cozy apartment in our quiet neighborhood, I can end up inside exploring plots and characters more than outside exploring the city. Seems rather a shame when I live in a city as dripping with potential new experiences as Berlin, right?

One way I’ve made a commitment to see more and do more and feel more is by deliberately adding in activities that are a bit more…scary. Not scaling-an-icy-mountain-face scary (I’m not that much of an adventurer yet!) but rather doing things that squeeze me out of my comfy solitude and challenge me out onto the edge of the slightly uncomfortable unknown.

Things like going out bar-hopping. No big surprise I’m sure, but I was not the world’s biggest partier in college. Irvine, CA was not (likely still is not) exactly a party town, and introverted-me rarely went out clubbing in LA with my roommates. I had fun, don’t get me wrong, but it was mostly English major-type fun with an occasional Toasted Almond from the Blue Beet in Newport Beach thrown in.

And then I graduated, got married a few months after that and moved to Wisconsin where I had our first baby a year and a half after that, so bar-hopping in my 20s? Yeah, didn’t really happen.

So when our (amazingly fun!) Berlin next-door neighbors R & A proposed working our way through a list of the city’s top ten (or is it 20?) cocktail bars R discovered online, I pushed aside my automatic I’m nowhere cool enough to go bar-hopping in Berlin instinct and instead said, Let’s get started already!

Which is how a week or so ago R & A & my love & I all ended up at the cocktail-lounge-in-an-art-gallery (or is that art-gallery-in-a-cocktail-lounge?) sitting next to that glowing green light in the picture above and sipping our first drinks of the evening. This wasn’t one of the places on The List but a place we’d serendipitously wandered into after the bar we’d originally intended to visit appeared closed (more on that in a moment).

Although I immediately felt neither fashionable nor sophisticated enough to settle myself into a seat in one of the many small gallery rooms, I pushed past those feelings and embraced the scary and guess what – I had so much fun! (As I hope you can tell by this picture of my love and me all-aglow in the fluorescent green of the art lamp.)


And the bar on The List we initially thought was closed? It turned out to be the teeniest bar I’ve ever seen, with a button at the door one must press to request admittance (a button we didn’t notice on our first visit). Once admitted—not a guarantee, since this place is operated like a Prohibition-era speakeasy and apparently reservations are standard, which we also didn’t know—we found ourselves standing in an already-crowded tiny room furnished with just one table and then a few chairs along a small bar.

If I’d thought I’d felt out of place at the art gallery, this was like being an uninvited visitor in secret foreign-foreign country hidden inside my usual foreign country. Every single one of my internal thoughts immediately whispered in unison: I do not belong here.

And so I honored my intention to embrace the things that scare me by choosing to turn that insecurity into an adventure. Together with my fellow explorers, I perused the cocktail menu (an intimidating list of drinks with unfamiliar names and no descriptions) and blindly ordered a Mary Pickford. I was rewarded with not only a drink I ended up adoring served in the loveliest vintage cocktail glass but also an evening that stretched way, way, way later than any of us expected as we eventually claimed chairs at the bar and drifted into conversation with the bar’s quirky owner and some of the equally-quirky regulars.

By the time we made our chilly way back to the subway in a stupidly happy haze (well, some of us hazier than others), I knew that if I hadn’t made a deliberate choice to revel in the scary, I would’ve missed out on what turned out to be one of most scintillating nights of my life.

And that’s a thought too scary for even me to embrace.

The 54th thing I love about living in Berlin…

crunchy sno

Crunchy snow walking.

I walked to the grocery store after dark (you know, 4:30 pm or so) last night and despite the below-freezing wind, I grinned like silly the entire trip simply because of the sound and the feel of the schnee (snow to you, unless you’re German) underfoot.

It had snowed off and on all morning. which resulted in a two to three inch blanket of white stuff in the grassy areas by afternoon. While the sidewalks weren’t quite as coated by the time I set out, there was enough snow on the ground to produce a delightful crunch with each bootfall. It’s been years since I’ve had that pleasure (Christmas in the Swiss Alps two years ago, to be precise) and even more years since we’ve lived in a place where this was an everyday occurrence, and oh my, have I missed it!

Lucky me that it’s only early December as I’m very much looking forward to many more crunch-filled walks this winter. In fact, if I hurry, I may even have enough time for a lovely long stroll while there’s still a little daylight left in today…

I’ll be back soon!

I started a four week intensive German course last week – any wonder I haven’t had time to post since then?

Stay with me, though…I’ve been stockpiling all kinds of new things I really love about living here (including the German word pause, which makes me and my fellow German classmates smile broadly each time our teacher informs us it’s time for one).