Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

more wandering

Maya around town--and the amazing fallen leaves sculpture in the Jewish Museum.

Okay, when last we left our dear blog readers, Maya had rejoined me. We moved around the corner to another lovely Berlin flat in my favorite hip EU neighborhood. Friday we had down time, and tried to reconnect with Maya's friend. We discovered the German habit of CAKE. At 4pm you stop and have a large slice of Torte. In Alexanderplatz we had a lovely Marzipan and raspberry concoction that left us in a sugar coma. We have decided this is an important custom to take home. Then off to the film awards. They spoil directors to BITS here--red carpets, little lounge with wine and beer for them to await their fans. Maya wants to come back next time as a director, for sure. Everyone is sooooo into film here--every showing is packed, young people ardently following the festival, everyone stays and asks questions at the Q and A. And no Disney for miles. These are meaty films on important topics with fresh voices. I have been thrilled to see the number of stories from families with children with disabilities--autism, aspergers, down syndrome. Lovely stories.Difficult stories, universally appealing stories, well told. The Black Balloon, a story about two brothers, one profoundly autistic, won the Crystal Bear, and my personal favorite, Sita Sings the Blues, got an honorable mention.

On Saturday we went to see the Red Carpet and rubber neck for celebs. What a scene, but compared to LA it was totally laid back and there were plenty of sensible shoes and warm coats. We stood right next to Maya Rudolph of Saturday night live who was also taking celeb pix and BEING a papparazzi--no one here knows who she is so she can just be a normal person. Weird. When we were leaving we cut right past the winners, so close we could have lifted the Golden Bear. You would never get that close to a star in the United States. After all that, we grabbed noodles to make at home for a simple meal at the mini mart, watched BBC and went to bed.

Everything is closed on Sunday except tourist spots and eateries. You CANNOT shop or do marketing. Its a day for family and friends. We went to the top of the Sony building, the Panorama and almost froze our ears off, then climbed to the top of the Berliner Dom to see the skyline from a birds eye view. Dinner was Tapas--so far we have had street food, Asian food, Spanish food, Italian food.

Monday was our last complete day in Berlin. I thought it was important for Maya to experience the Jewish Museum. We also saw Checkpoint Charlie. We spent a few precious final hours with Maya's friend, then went out for a traditional German meal mit Schwarzbier and kartoffels. Just like my grandmas cookin! Very satisfying.

I love Berlin. I am sorry to go home and all the layers of multitasking. I hate the humiliation and tedium of travel and security and the small minded paranoia of my country. I like thinking big thoughts and being out of my element and trying to think in another language. I loved having Maya all to myself. But its all smushed into the backpack, I have purchased another patch to sew on, bought my souvenirs at the the Euro store and Pfenningland, and its time to go home to the chaos of three kids and two artists lives. This trip was a marvelous gift and I am so grateful.

Friday, February 15, 2008

possibly my almost last post...!!!

I don't think any of MY friends read this but if they do then they should know that i am changing locations and so this may very well be my last chance at internat usage before i leave. Obvi, they prolly won't read this, so they will be sick with worry about me. I am keeping a (somewhat) daily account on my video camera, which we will screen when i get back, so you might not be up to dat but you will be at one point. so, i will see u soon, i hope!

i can't spell good bye in german.

here it is! (looked it up); Auf Wiedersehen!!!

Happy Valentines Day

Photos: Alexanderplatz and the TV tower. Maya in front of our home away from home, the Babylon Theater on Rosa Luxemborg Platz....

Maya and I bought a donut--it's a very minor holiday here and only for couples. Good for the blumenshoppe, flower sellers. We slept in and wandered around our neighborhood which I have come to love, and went to the Puppenmuseum, the puppet museum. Its a tiny museum in the back of a courtyard on Karl Marx strasse, which looks a lot like Manhattan's Canal Street used to look in the 1980's. The collection has a marvelous home puppet theater that is 100 years old that they let you play with. They had a special display of a Spanish fellow's work carved from foam and painted. They looked like escapees from a Hieronymous Bosch painting with modern jewelry. The hands were especially eerie, and they were for the most part, life size. We had gotten a picnic lunch--can't let my teen starve cause she gets cranky. Then we hunkered down for 3 back to back features at the Babylon Theater. I ended up getting shut out of the middle film and walked around Alexanderplatz for 2 hours. It was a bit nippy. Don't like cold, wet and grey for sightseeing. By the time I met up with Maya, she was kind of overmovied and ready to go home, but I wanted to see this animated feature: Sita Sings the Blues. I love the Ramayana story and I told Maya that it was a Dinerstein tradition to sleep through cultural events, and it was warm and cozy in the theater and she was just going to have to put up with me and she had my full permission to snore through the picture. I have let go of the idea that I am going to operas and ballets and dance classes here so that I can get her to her program, and I am back on duty worrying and caring for her food, shelter and clothing, so the least she could do is let me watch a film. Lucky for us it was FANTASTIC. Its a bit controversial since right wing Hindus want this wacky creative woman dead for relating her life to the epic tale. Many are also upset in that it takes Sita's perspective--the tale is normally told from the eyes of Rama, a god. It is a marvelous retelling of the tale that uses 7 kinds of animation, Bollywood music juxtaposed with 1929 blues/jazz/cabaret singing of an American singer
Annette someone. This movie was funded by a devoted band of anonymous internet contributers so in addition to being a completely fresh retelling of a thousands year old tale that is known by more people on the planet than the Bible, it sets the film funding model on its head. Mostly though, its damn fine entertainment. We went out for pizza afterwords and all was well in our world.

Everything from the lace curtains in the windows to the period graphics on the old books to the chocolates in the store, reminds me of my grandparents. I expected the language to be deep in my limnal brain, part of my youngest memories, but the visual aspects of this strange familiarity is still surprising to me.

We move to a new house today--my current host is about to be inundated with relations in town to meet up with their agents for an upcoming exhibition of their work at the Tate in London, way cool. We will all go out on the weekend, but this may be the last internet connection I have for a while. We are staying in this artists neighborhood, which is fine by me. I lucked into the part of town with the best junk shops, hip cafes and flea markets.There are acupuncturists, dance and yoga studios, and cheap delicious street food. My people. As far as I am concerned, life does not get any better than this

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

family day

German Buggies--see below.

So Mayas host is really sick so she is my responsibility again (not that she ever ceased to be!) and I was getting used to being footloose and fancy free. Now I have to manage a heavy film schedule and now I get why she isn't seeing much--films run from 9 am to 9:30 pm. We got a quick trip to the Jewish Memorial sculpture, and the Brandenburg Gate because Maya can't leave town without seeing it. Then I went to the Kathy Kollwitz museum and an photo gallery dedicated to getting signed original limited edition prints into the lives of ordinary people. The photos were great and for one crazy moment I was going to buy one. That moment passed. I found myself on the Michigan Avenue of Berlin and the people watching was spectacular (although I felt more in my turf in Prenzlauerberg, where I stay, poking around second hand shops with other artistic types. While waiting for Maya to come out of her movie I had a really good, cheap (did not think this was possible) sushi dinner at an ethnically confused restaurant called Hong Kong Bay. The sign in the window said: Sushibar--Thai--Vietnam Küche. The music playing was Spanish. But it was warm and candlelit and the sushi was ANGEBOT--on sale!!! I really do know how to find a sale in any language. Oh, and I totally freaked them out trying to find out if they had my favorite maki: spider rolls. They don't know from soft shelled crab, and thought I wanted the poor chef to put spiders in my food. OO crazy American lady at table 8. They got me back though and almost gave me a heart attack with a self sanitizing toilet. Literally the second after you stand up the seat spins around under some little arm at the back that somehow nukes the bacteria, but I only figured that out when I put my reading glasses on and scrutinized the fine print on the toilet after I calmed down. First I thought I broke the toilet. Toilet seats are not round and when they rotate its kind of surrealistic as that uneven shapes spin. If you are not expecting it, its a bit of a shock. There is NO mention in my guidebook of spinning toilet tops. But they don't clue you in on toilets much. Lets just say that there is a reason Americans dump so much water down the throne and Germans have to get a lot more conscious of their output.....

Another thing you will not find in guidebooks is this tip for the Ladies. LEAVE YOUR UNDERWIRE BRA at home. I have now been "wanded" and felt up by female security guards in 3 countries since my bra invariably sets off the alarm. So much for good foundations.

As a former busker, I have to say that the quality of the street musicians here is uniformly excellent. Today I experienced two violinists, and my current fave, an acordion player, and I let the train go by and caught the next one so I could listen.

Apparently, the German birthrate is quite low, but I am staying in the neighborhood with the highest birthrate in the country. They have never heard of umbrella strollers here--everyone pushes around this Cadillac behemoth prams, with shock absorbers for the cobblestones. There were a bunch of moms daytripping on the train and five prams took up half the car. AND THEY DON'T PUT THE BRAKES ON--so they rock back and forth across the aisle while the moms socialize--brilliant! Well its really late and I have to get my young journalist to about 5 films tomorrow. Might watch a few myself though I really want to hit the puppet museum. German puppets are second only to Indonesia, although the Poles might give em a run for it...but thats the gig, I am the official chaperone. You can check out her reviews by googling The Berlin Film Festival, going to the Generation section and look for the link at the bottom of the page for the Jungejournalisten--she is in the English section but I think you can go to her bio and look up her reviews from there.
I wish I had the ability to post photos, but that will have to wait til we get back. Free wifi hardly exists here, and we don't want to stop having fun long enough to find the 3 place that have it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Finally a phone

Knut, the polar bear and the Berlin Zoo--and the Berlinale Zooplast theater--note the tchotchke shop next door, and the fab red carpet!

While walking through the lion house, actually while watching a tiger threaten everyone with the side of a cow hanging out of his mouth, my phone finally rang! It was Matt who had worked the cellular company over and it looks like I am no longer off the communication grid! We finally connected with Uncle David and may actually see him here in this country (although I have been looking very closely at all the men in Potsdamer Platz seeking a familiar face--Matt always runs into people he knows in completely odd places) After going to a Berlinale Soiree until the wee hours last night, I slept in this morning. What a party--and let me tell you that you just have not LIVED until you experience a Goulash Canon with a swarthy lad atop the cart scooping hot goulash into your bowl! Remember to eat it with a big chunk of German bread. And its good with Berliner beer. So off I went to a concert at the Philharmonie. They deserve their reputation, I tell you. It was a free concert in the foyer of the supermod hall. The audience, including a class full of little kids, was the best behaved, most polite group I have yet experienced at a free show. Despite the fact that it was cold and gray, I decided to head to the zoo. It has more species than any other zoo, and it started because the Prussian Emperor got talked into giving his personal pet collection to a public zoo. It has Knut, a polar bear born here and quite a celebrity. They also have a panda celebrity, but my favorites were the Bonobo monkeys. The most surprising thing was watching one of the keepers feed a gorilla --he stood right next to her and talked and it was like they were intimate old friends. Then I got a call from my host, who is a guest relations specialist for the festival. Apparently Mayas host sister is sick and they needed me to take over. My incredible host extended her hospitality to my girl, so I swooped in to pick her up from her movie assignment and take her for dinner and retail therapy. We had fish and chips which Maya had been craving because she walked by the stand outside the cinema each day, found some gifts and a toothbrush for her at the 1€ Store--just like our dollar stores!! then headed to the largest department store in Germany where we reveled in the largest selection of German toys we have ever experienced!!! all our favorite brands: Haba and Schliech and Kathe Kruse and Gotz and Erna Meyer and Steiff. We discovered new brands we could love. We then wandered their food halls. Nowhere else in the world could you find so many kinds of mustard--but they had everything under the sun and they don't let you take pictures, so just take my word for it that it was a visual feast. Now home and to bed at a reasonable hour, with my firstborn tucked snug in the futon beside me, passed out already.....

hi, finally

ok FINALLY i get to a computer!!!

and i started typing in hindi.

here is what i was ACTUALLY HAND WRITING in my journal while i was at school with Roberta, my friend here who i am living with. you'll see her as soon as i get to put movies up.

From the Journal of Maya~Rose:

Ok, my friends,seeing as there is NO other way to successfully record my adventures in Herr/Frau-a-go-go (too many -'s?)land, then i will painstakingly write it down for your amusement.

2-11-08, 10:22, Chem

Okay, i'm in Chem right now. Very boring, seeing as it's in GERMAN!!! Ugh. SItting in the WAY back, because we were almost late, coming from break. First i wrote my film reviews and now this. {This comment from after writing this-- sorry if i sort of go off topic a lot. i talk like this and think like this and write like this and right now i am to lazy to organize it}

Blodge next.

I would be taking pictures for you guys, but i don't think people enjoy having pictures taken of them, even hot guys, by complete and udder {yes i have started using 'udder' instead of 'utter' because i am honoring the poor, slaughtered cow-apple babies. not really, udder sounds funnier and makes me laugh [inside joke with kam- "...and you make me laugh. not with you, at you, of course."--Daniel Cleaver (yum)]} strangers.

no access to the INTERNET.com yet, otherwise this would all be up and the school website would be updated, and my webkin would be played with and my email would be checked and my videos would be up for all y'all. I just haven't had a chance to DO anything (regardincomputers that is).

i think i will rip this out of my journal and give it to my mom to post up on the blog, because i have no way of getting it there. Also, my phone doesn't work, so i have NO CONTACT WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD!!!

Oh my god, when is this class over??? I have no idea whatsoever what they are saying.

Right now it's 3am where you are. 3:37, actually.

I wish I could access some WIFI then, MAYBE, i would be up-to-date with the goings on around my town.

AHHHHHHHH!!! you crazy germans, kill me now (no not really, please...) I mean, not that this isn't a good-
g2g2 next class, ciao!

2-12-08, 8:19 am, German Test XP
Sorry about that we had to leave the classroom. As i was saying,... not that this isn't a good experience, but i am just SO BORED!!

Now i am in a German Test. OMG i can't feel bad for all the poor people in djibouti when i am suffering through THIS. i am about 2 minutes away from wit's end {i actually drew a little pointy thing that says 'WIT'S END, 2M'}

On a lighter note, they all have funny German accents here!
no, duh, maya you are in german land.
Yes well i know but they're still funny.

Oh i think they're done!!!

Oh no, they were just shuffling their papers.

ROberta wanted me to stay ina cafe or something while she had classes, but i think our first movie is at 10:30 and there is no way i am going to find her unless i had WAY more preparation. I am so like her little puppy, seeing as i'd pretty much just follow her around everywhere.

i lied before. we ended up having Geoggers instead of Blodge.

i kinda wish i could be doing what mom's doing. SHE gets to sight see, and meet (albeit independant) movie stars and party and i get to see a million different movies. I don't REALLY enjoy sight-seeing, but i would like to party, maybe a little, tiny, bit... But i can't (Beatles song popped into my head, "... but i can't, so I'll cry, instead.") because ROberta doesn't feel well (despite the fact that she is at school, and becuase her mom follows us around all the time AND because we've got too many movie planned.

HA! The bell has rung which i hope means we get to LEAVE->

But apparently not because no one's moving.

there are no cute guys here. sorry, wrong country. i don't know your deffinition of cute. i have different standards (That doesn't mean LOWER)and we all have different tastes, and even if one WAS cute, then he prolly speaks GERMAN, so that is a complete and udder TURN-OFF (jk, germans. luv da lang!)


I wonder if Jehova's Witnesses were frafted in WWII??? and what happened to them if they were (they're not allowed to join the army)???

ANd even if i did meet a REALLY cute guy, and even if he DID actually LIKE me, then it STILL wouldn't matter, because L o n g d i s t a n c e relationships NEVER work. why do you (hold that thought)


(ok, u can give the thought back now)...even want pictures of hot guys? if they're continents away, what's the point???

That concludes this session of 'The Journal of Maya~Rose'. TUne in soon to see what happens next!

Monday, February 11, 2008

getting along in berlin

Maya and I have both experienced our share of technical difficulties and she is finding that given her limited internet time she cannot post right now so she wants all her friends to know that she IS NOT ignoring them--I caught up with her at a film opening of a really moving feature about a Jehovahs witness--after having spent 3 hours at the Jewish Museum, I am starting to feel like I am on a religious pilgrimage. Today was Bauhaus Museum which felt like home, Brandenberg Gate, a hike in the tiergarten, the Jewish Museum, a film and a reception for all the movie folk oooh la la, I am one tired puppy and need some time to digest all the things I have seen and felt today. Maya looks healthy although not entirely rested....but its 1 am in the morning here so I am not in a position to comment. This is such an amazing experience for both of us....

Sunday, February 10, 2008

here i am

Photos: the New Synagogue, and the Brandenberg Tor--Berlins Icon.

The plane ride was long and uneventful. There was a really angry baby on each leg of the journey and sandwiched in like a sardine in the center of 9 seats, there was not a lot of assistance that I could give. I remember those years, and although for the most part my children have always been excellent fliers, there have been trips where no one was happy. We arrived, somewhat jet lagged and were met by our Young Journalists. They decoded the transit system for me, and then I jumped off a bus leaving Maya in the care of her friends and made my way to my hosts flat. I quickly discovered that the instructions given to me by my mobile provider do not work and as yet neither does the help number. I have managed a work around.... and in a way, its nice to be disconnected.I have also discovered many new things: you have to open your own train doors here, the keyboard on the computer is totally different so I cannot type without looking.Everything that makes a sound makes a different one: ambulances, trams, traffic lights. Today I kept getting lost on purpose: I was on my way to a museum and ended up at a flea market which I could not resist, then went back to go to the museum and ended up at the New Synagogue, a moving experience that brought me to tears, especially when I realized, standing before the reconstructed shards of the bima of Berlins immense REFORM shul, that at that very moment, my own temple was welcoming the community into our new synagogue after 2years of reconstructing. Maybe I will get to that museum tomorrow. I sure do find interesting things every time I try! Meanwhile, I have not seen or spoken to Maya, but I hope to see her at a Danish film tomorrow........

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Maya's mama in Berlin

First photos: View from my window, Day 1. The bear, symbol of the city. And the flea market I wished for!

Tomorrow, I will get on an airplane and fly to a foreign city I have never visited before, and a woman who has never met me will welcome me into her home and let me live with her and her partner. It is this kind of travelers code of hospitality that gives me hope for our world and for humanity, a hope I had somewhat misplaced of late. Back before we became a paranoid nation who only allowed those rich enough to afford a US Visa and the lengthy expensive process to get one to come here and find out that we really are incredibly nice people, back when we used to host young ladies from foreign lands for the summer before one of them was summarily deported because she could not understand the questions (the questioners made no effort to translate the questions and she was, after all, coming to the US to learn English) they asked and she mis-answered them, back when I believed that we were a nation that believed what was written on the base of the Statue of Liberty, I used to hope for world understanding and peace.

I have always known that traveling to other countries helped us understand, in a tangible and visceral way, that we are all one human family mostly motivated by similar hopes and dreams—a chance to actualize our innermost best selves and a shot at a better world for ourselves and our families. I also found out, after a summer abroad in my 20’s in a land with anti-American protests and anti-feminist traditions, that not everyone sees the world through the same lens I do, and that has changed my life. I could never go back to a single minded world view. I had learned, in that summer, to look at the world from a bunch of angles and refract what I knew through a series of prisms called history, culture and belief systems. I know that what I have learned around a table just talking with folks over coffee or café or tea or lassi are things I would not have learned in my own insular world. Reading the news story about my home country in another land, about how others interpret my world has been a mind expanding experience. Trying to communicate in other languages opens a universe. Standing in a strange land where no one literally speaks your mother tongue is an eye opening disorientation, and a truly critical one for each of us to have, because I have found that the world is truly full of wonderful personalities. The world keeps getting smaller and smaller and we need to get to know the neighbors….as I reach out of my curmudgeonly shell, they are reaching too.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

First Post!

Ok, so, erm, hi, i guess...

this is a blog that i will be posting to about my trip to Berlin, Germany.

You may be asking, "Maya, why are you going to Berlin?!"
Well, it's because a friend from Germany invited me to come to the Berlinale Film festival which is one of the biggest Film Festivals in the world.

"Wow! You have a friend in Germany?"
Yes, her name is Roberta and i met her in Italy.

"Italy? But i thought she was German...?"
Yes, i met her at a different film festival, the Giffoni International Children's Film Festival.

"Do you speak German?"
No, but Roberta speaks english, so it is great.

ok, i guess that's it for today...

Just some things happening in the future:
Leaving for Berlin on friday (so excited!)