Friday, March 21, 2014

Why wait when you have your own dictaphone?

Ever since the guitarist I was working with for a while moved back to Brazil I've been looking for someone to make music with, but it just is no easy task. Is there anyone in Berlin who doesn't write electronic music? (By the way, do they still call techno "Euro trash" in the U.S.? Sure hope so. I'm sorry, but I hate that crap....) In my frustration I realized why not write my own songs. I found Audacity online, found Looperman for samples and, hell, I've got a dictaphone. Why do I have to loose? ;) As expected, the quality isn't exactly the best, but it's still been fun. Here are a few little videos I made for three of my songs.

This first one I wrote about someone I had a dream about recently (and no, I ain't saying who ;) )


This one I wrote for Laika.


And this one I wrote for my husband, Jasper (some of the images remind me of when we first got together.)


If you want to hear more, click here to visit my page on Soundcloud. 

xoxo, Rebeccah



Friday, August 30, 2013

Schooling For My Daughter (and why it's kept me awake at night for years....)


 I think it must have started around the time my oldest daughter turned 3: the worries about what to do about school and where I should send her. We already knew we were zoned for one of the so-called "problem" schools in Kreuzberg (I'd rather not get into the details here, but anyone in Berlin will know what I'm talking about. If you read German, this interview addresses the issue very well.) The playground talk of some parents was that the school was improving. Others would shake their heads and click their tongues and then tell a story about the son of poor so and so or how they've heard this and that, the clear message being, Don't send your child there. But what to do?



 We love Kreuzberg and our apartment, so moving wasn't an option. Sending our daughters to even one of the less expensive private schools would still mean giving ps any small luxuries as well as family vacations. But schooling isn't everything. What kind of parents would we be if we made ourselves move to a neighborhood that bored us to tears or got ourselves into a position where we couldn't afford to visit my family in California for the next 6 years? Should we jump on the band wagon and register ourselves at a fake address zoned for one of the "better" schools or hire a lawyer to sue our way in? To be honest, we seriously considered both of these options. But in the end it just didn't feel right. The situation would be different if people didn't use these tactics and I didn't feel comfortable being part of the problem.


But there was more to my sleepless nights than just the issue of public schools in Kreuzberg: my other worry was whether or not I should send my daughters to a bi-lingual school. Although I knew they would learn English eventually in school, I would prefer them to learn to read and write in English early, to become friends with other English-speaking children, to be in a more international environment. But, since we had ruled out private schools (which also aren't exactly around the block...) sending our daughters to a bi-lingual school would mean at least a 40 minute commute through the city not to mention friends who all lived far away (and, of course, they are all very hard to get into....) When I was a child, my school was a 15 minute walk away, but this wasn't true for my youngest brother. I remember how isolated he was during summer vacation, with no friends in the neighborhood. I didn't want that for my girls.


About a year ago, an American friend of mine mentioned that the Carl von Ossietzky Schule near Südstern wanted to open an elementary school next year with a bi-lingual German-English offer (and no Einzuggebiet, so anyone could apply.) We walked past the school quite often on the way to dance lessons in Körtestrasse, so I knew it was a concrete fortress built sometime in the 70s and that some of the teenage students seemed a little rough. But it won't hurt to check it out, I thought, and I'm certainly glad I did. The staff was open and friendly, the building newly renovated, the concept good. They are interested in building up the bi-lingual concept and even working towards making it a true bi-lingual German-English Europa Schule (no guarantee, but there is a fairly good chance.) A school with a bi-lingual offer that is also only a 15 minute walk from our home? Hell, yes! We signed up.


School has been in session for several weeks now and we are still more than happy with our choice. The teachers and staff and great, the school is small (only two parellel first grade classes), and still feels separate even though it's on a much larger campus. The students are a true Kreuzberg mix of nationalities with no one group heavily in the majority. My daughter is happy to go there in the morning and happy when I pick her up in the afternoon.The only slight disappointment I've had so far has been with my fellow native English speakers. I've spoken to several of them who said they were interested and would jump on board once the school is truly bi-lingual. And the friend who brought me to the school in the first place? Her son got into JFK so she'll be sending him there instead. A vicious circle really, because the school won't ever become "truly bi-lingual" unless enough bi-lingual famlies come and say they want it. But I know there are a lot out there who would love to join but maybe just don't know about it yet. Like me, such a school, here in Kreuzberg, would be an answer to their prayers. I've set up this Facebook page to help spread the word, so if you or anyone you know is raising a bi-lingual child, please get in touch or come by the school.

 Worst case scenario? The school stays as it is, with English lessons 3 times a week, a great mix of nationalities, engaged parents, nice staff, and happy kids. Yeah, I could live with that. Either way, I'm definitely sleeping much better at night. :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Shop Collective Mitten Im Walde

A couple of weeks ago I joined the shop collective (in German Ladenkollektiv) Mitten im Walde in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Silke, the woman who is running the shop, wrote me a message at Augenblickphoto and asked if I would be interested in joining. I’ve been thinking for a while that I would love to see what it’s like to work in a shop because selling online is pretty darn lonely and I may want to open my own later when my daughters are a bit older. Plus the shop just happens to be about a two minute walk from where I live, so how could I say no?
There are twelve artists/designs/crafters in the shop altogether making everything from furniture, to pottery, to clothing to hats, to jewelry and to lamps. We each pay a small monthly rent and have two days a month when we have to work in the shop. I did my first “Ladendienst” (shop duty) today and, although it was pretty slow (we are on a side street in a basement shop, so it will take a while to get noticed) I really enjoyed it. Several friends stopped by and I listened to the new blues and old school jazz mix on my Ipod.

If you’re in Berlin and looking for a nice handmade gift (we even have handwoven cashmere scarves!) or would just like to check out a unique new independent shop, please come on by: Mitten Im Walde, Mittenwalderstrasse 46, Berlin-Kreuzberg (U-7 Gneisenaustrasse), Open from 1 to 8 Mon-Fri. If you come on Thursday or Saturdays I just might be there, so feel free to say hi.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gemäldegalerie Wanderings

My niece is in town and today we decided to spend the early afternoon in the Gerhard Richter exhibition in the Neue National Galerie. The only problem was that everyone and their uncle's second cousin twice removed is visiting the exhibition and, even though we got there pretty early, there was still a long wait. Both impatient by nature, we decided to go around the corner to the Gemäldegalerie instead.




The Gemäldegalerie has amazing paintings by many an old masters but, like all great museums, what makes it extra special are the museum rooms themselves.

High ceilings, lots of natural light, walls covered in beautiful cloth and these gorgeous wooden sitting areas for the awestruck or simply tired gallery goers.

As we wandered through the rooms, my niece and I marveled out the amazing way the painters depicted light and cloth, movement and depth, a masterful skill that is, sadly, largely lost.

I took lots of photographs for the Art Fragment series in my shop Augenblickphoto. I'll be printing some of the ones I like the best (not pictured here so stay tuned) to see if I want to work with them or not.

All in all, most definitely not a bad way to spend the first day of Spring in Berlin, 2012. ;)





Thursday, February 9, 2012

This Basement Girl Wants To Sing The Blues

Since November I've been spending a heck of a lot of time below ground. I'm renting a small basement room at a juggling shop on Zossenerstrasse in Berlin-Kreuzberg where I've set up a photo studio for my vintage clothing shop, Curious Knopf. I also can store the clothes there as well as jewelry, photostones and other doo dads from Augenblickphoto which has made it easy to go to craft shows.

LinkYes, I have gotten more serious about this online business thing and I'd be loving it except, well, my sales are in the toilet these days. But then it is February. Maybe people are simply too cold to shop. I have a contract for the room until next fall and I still teach some for extra cash so there's nothing left to do but keep on trucking.

What I'm more disappointed about is singing, or rather, the lack of it. Marcio has been gone for over 9 months but every time I've tried to set up another music project with someone else it's just been bust after bust after bust. Isn't there anyone in Berlin who wants to work together on some songs that are a little bit jazz, a little bit blues and a little bit old school country? If so, what are you waiting for? Drop me a line. :)

A few videos of songs I would love to work on for your listening pleasure:










Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Altweibersommer

For the last week or so we've really been enjoying what Germans call "Old Women's Summer" (Altweibersommer, though apparently it actually has more to do with spider webs.) In English I guess we call it Indian summer, though I never had much use for it since in California everything is either summer, Indian summer, spring or six weeks of torrential rains and mud slides. How's that for variety?

To enjoy it while it lasts we spent yesterday (which just happened to be Tag der deutschen Einheit) at Cecilienhof in Potsdam. We certainly weren't the only ones. When we were there we saw this ridiculously beautiful couple....

....the young and middle-aged....

....the middle-age middle aged....

...and of course the elderly. This is just a side note, but why do a lot of older Germans look like they spent their entire lives hauling sacks of potatoes and the only time they ever had fun was when their mother let them haul a ten pound sack instead of a 20 pounder? You can't see it so well on this picture, but when you zoom in this couple have such dour looks on their faces. In real life they weren't quite so bad. I think they even smiled at Miss Mia which, for a German, is almost like winning Miss Congeniality.

As much as I complain about Berlin winters (and, I assure you, I will again) if I ever were to go back to California I would miss autumn. Such beautiful light, crisp air, vibrant colors. California doesn't have autumn. The leaves on the Eucalyptus trees just dull a little. And then it's spring.

Needless to say, the girls had fun.

Right here they are getting excited because they just discovered a roly poly crawling across the bark. They are so my children.

Jasper's grandmother was once a lady-in-waiting at a castle a stone's throw from Cecilienhof. How did a California lass like me whose heart will always beat a little hippie end up with a Prussian count with aristocratic roots up the gazoo? Life is, indeed, full of surprises.

Fall light and Old Women's Summer we will miss you. Do come again.

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