Sunday, December 14, 2008

Taken by surprise.....

What I love most about creativity is how often it takes me by surprise. I have often gone through phases (or rather, bursts)where I made a lot of collages and then other times when I didn't make them at all. It's not something I can force and there are many other things I make or I write or take photographs so when I am not making collages I still am following creative pursuits. But something about collages, creating things from bits and pieces of paper that are arranged without plan or thought, that is especially satisfying. So often the inspiration takes me by surprise. Like the new work I have been doing for the past several weeks. Most have them have been made from books I have had for years but didn't really know why: An old collection of short stories translated into German, a book about Nabokov and folk singers in Russian. The German book I picked up years ago at a flea market here in Berlin, but only because I liked something about it. Generally I don't read literature translated into German, especially if the original was in English, but I still bought the book and kept it around for some reason. The same was true of the Russian books. I bought them when I was in Moscow and then somehow never got rid of them though I have long given up on the rigors of Russian grammar. I am not a person who has a hard time throwing things out. I have moved several times since I first got them and each time I gave away boxes of things, but somehow those books always stayed. Then, three weeks ago or so I took the German book off the bookshelf on a whim. After thumbing through it for a few minutes I suddenly had the impulse to get a razor blade and cut things out of it. I followed that whim and have been making collages from its pages ever since. Now it seems clear why I kept the books around all this time: Someday I was meant to make art with them.

Monday, March 10, 2008


It feels good to be back in California. I've been here since Thursday and each morning after the intial fog has blown off I'm outside, sitting in the sun, like a lizard on a rock. I've been so deprived of sunshine these past Berlin Winter months and now I just can't get enough. The trip is also bitter sweet: my father is very ill with cancer and, since I live a half a world away, this will probably be the last time I will see him alive. So here I am, in a place so aptly called the sunshine state, the warmth of the rays on the skin not always enough to warm my heart....It's great to spend time with my family though and to have baby Mia hang out with them. I swear she now loves my mom more than she loves me! My second child will be here in October and it's so good to know that he/she will have two families, one in the Bay Area and one in Berlin, as baby Mia does. But sad that he/she will never get to know her grandfather. Both of my husband's parents are dead, so this means my children will only have my mom as their single grandparent. But she's great so they have lucked out. Anyway, this entry is a bit personal for this blog, which is more designed to document my creative life. Life is just too busy stirring the creative pot and I am doing nothing creative (though I do plan to get some writing done). Just tanking up on the sun and spending precious moments with my dad....

Monday, March 3, 2008

Inspiration on the road...

In 2005-2006 I had the coolest job: I got to go to various cities in Germany (Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg, Hannover)several times to teach workshops for the Deutsche Bahn (German Railway.) They were preparing for the Soccer World Cup, which was hosted in Berlin, and they wanted to make sure (or at least be able to brag on paper) that their service employees and train announcers could speak passable English. I was sent to each of these cities 3 or 4 times to teach relatively well-paid 3 day workshops and also had my hotel and train expenses covered. The teaching itself was rather tedious. The students all worked at low level service jobs, were mostly middle aged and, although friendly for the most part, were not at all interested in learning English (only a few of them could really speak it passably.) Sometimes it felt more like highly paid babysitting for people thrilled to gossip and take lots of smoke breaks because they weren't technically at work. Still, I got through the days fairly easily and had so much fun in the evenings, roaming the streets of the various cities alone, armed with curiosity and a camera. It's funny how seldom we just wander for hours in the places we live. I remember getting visitors when I lived in the S.F. Bay Area and doing things with them that I simply had never done before: it was always there. I could go tomorrow if I felt like it. And yet, I never really did. Being in another city on business alone is the perfect opportunity for exploration because you have nothing else to do and NOTHING is more boring than sitting in the mid-range hotel room all by your lonesome....Anyway, I took a lot of great photos and am planning on using them for various art projects: collages, digitally enhanced/altered photographs and series of magnets. I already have some of them on offer in Etsy shop and am working on a couple of others. Here is a slide show of the photographs I know I want to do something with at some point. (I have already worked with and altered some which I have on offer in my shop Schaufenster, but the photographs shown here are the originals.) By the way, Hamburg was by far my most favorite of the cities. A big city (at least a million), it has a cool vibe and is really ethnically mixed and of course has its seedy edges with the Reeperbahn, the famous sailor red-light district where the Beatles got there start. Hannover is the least interesting (a city without a face, my husband says)but there was amazing stormy weather one of the times that I was there and the light just blew me away. That's when I took the series of Light and Longing self portraits (see blog below). Leipzig and Dresden are both cool, smaller cities but, except for one self-portrait in Leipzig, they proved uninspiring....Or maybe I forgot my camera when I went to Dresden. I don't remember anymore. Anyway, enjoy the show!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The incredible EXPLODING sewing machine!

So I posted earlier how excited I was to get a good deal on a sewing machine for my birthday. It finally came on Saturday, with a big box of needles and other goodies and a pamphlet straight out of the 70s. The sewing machine was rather simple; none of the fancy stitches that the one I use in my course has. But it was easy to use and I want something basic to start out with anyhow. If the sewing thing really takes off, then I will invest in a fancier machine. Anyway, I used it for about 5 minutes, trying out the different stitches and was having a grand old time. The motor sounded kind of loud, but it's an older machine I figured. But then my baby started crying and I had to go lay her down. When I did, I heard a POP POP POP. "What the was that?" My husband shouted from the other room. We both rushed into the living room to see a smoking sewing machine that had exploded. Anyway, that was pretty much a killer for the rest of my Saturday, anger, disappointment, etc. I tried to contact the seller but she didn't answer. I was tempted to give her a bad review (I mean, there is no guarantee on ebay but you DO expect the products to work longer than 5 minutes!!)but thought I'd wait until Monday. Today she finally wrote, very apologetic and offered to give me half of the money back which should hopefully be enough to get it fixed so fair enough. Anyway, I'll keep you posted on any further explosions or eruptions and there consequences!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The huntress

I've always loved hunting for vintage treasures. There is nothing like wading through a thrift store or pages of ebay offers for just that one perfect thing. Even the negative sides of thrift stores, like that "smell" (what IS it exactly? Decaying fabric I suppose because it always the same....), the occasional crazies or how jammed packed they are with mostly trash is somehow (almost) endearing. Perhaps I merely like the bragging that goes something like "Wow, I love your knee-high vintage boots/folkloric skirt/gold lame Dries van Noten dress." "Thanks! I got it at Goodwill for 5.99!" Because you have to work for it, it also seems like you've earned it. You can't just waltz into The Salvation Army and find the most amazing handbag of your life, you have to stay a while, browse through the rack, let it sink in. I impressed my husband two years ago in Santa Barbara. We went to the Goodwill there that I already knew about but he was instantly overwhelmed. He wandered, a little lost, for a half an hour, sure he didn't want anything whereas in that time I not only found a few great things for myself, but also two shirts and a sweater for him plus a pair of shoes which are now one of his most favorite. Still, I am nothing compared to my sister. If you told my sister I need a black dress to wear to a party with a v-neck and a hem line of 18 inches by a well known designer or brand she will be able to find it for you in under ten minutes. I swear! A natural talent, she has also had plenty of oppurtunity to hone her skills. A few years ago she did an advertising job for the San Francisco Examiner in a pretty ghetto part of the city. Since it was ghetto, there was no where to really spend her lunch hour and like hell was she spending it in the office. She soon discovered that there was a Goodwill in the shopping center next door, started going there to pass the time, and soon a love was born. No one ever asked her why she often came back from her lunch break with a big plastic bag full of clothes, but then her co-workers sounded pretty strange themselves. Later, after she had quit the job and started studying psychology, she discovered Goodwill's flagship San Francisco store, on Mission and Van Ness (or maybe South Van Ness.) San Francisco is famous for a lot of things, but not everyone knows that it is really full of a lot of rich people. Rich, spendaholic women who cast away great clothes and shoes they only wore once if not at all. My sister loves to pick up their leavings, as do I. About 75% of my wardrobe is from trips to that Goodwill I make when I visit my family in California. I've been having a lot of fun doing it here in Berlin. I'm starting to offer vintage items in my shop (actually, I'm even thinking of opening a new shop specialized in vintage)and find that Berlin also has so many treasures. People here are also traditionally more into crafts (for example, it is not at all uncommon to meet someone relatively young who cans preserves)so a lot of the pieces are hand sewn which is really cool. Then they are truly one of a kind. Anyway, here is a slide show of some of the pieces I have now. I will be adding a lot more in the weeks to come. As I stated in an earlier post, I also plan to start altering vintage. (The dress I added the buttons to turned out cool, but I ended up giving it to a friend!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I love Berlin/I hate Berlin

Anyone who has been to my Etsy shop probably has figured out by now that the city where I live, Berlin, inspires me. It has been the subject of several collages and will come into play creatively now and again I'm sure. Berlin has been my home for almost ten years now. I once heard from a fellow (aging) ex-pat that 10 years is the cut off date. If you are still in Berlin at that point there is no going back. I will always love California and miss my family and the Pacific Ocean everyday, but Berlin has my heart. Berlin is where you can still find a studio apartment for 200 Euros and so what if it has coal heating and is in Neukölln: you can concentrate on your art and what and who you love. Berlin is where no one cares what you are doing so go ahead and do whatever you want. In Berlin, everyone is from somewhere else. This morning I heard a familiar sound out my window. It was the roaming gypsy band who makes their appearance every 6 months or so. The stroll down the street and play their instruments hoping that people will toss money from their windows. Where else do things like this happen?

But I also hate Berlin. Berlin is where I can't count on people opening doors and asking me if I need help as I'm struggling with the baby buggy. Berlin is where I have literally gotten bruises from people who slammed into me and then, as usual didn't apologize or say excuse me. It is where no one smiles at or chats nicely with a stranger; strangers are your mortal enemies, not to be trusted until they have, by trial of fire, proved otherwise. Berliners speak a language where there is no word for "anal" because the word they use is "normal". Perhaps there is no such thing as paradise....

Monday, February 18, 2008

The story behind Light and Longing

Yesterday I made a collage with one of the Light and Longing self-portraits, part of the poem printed on its surface. There is a story behind both the pictures and the poem which I thought I would post here. (Originally I posted it on my blog on MySpace.) Here it is:

Light and Longing

This is not about me and it's not about you,
these words are not written by my hand.
It's about the us that never was and always is
because, at its heart, memory is a very personal fiction.

How could I not love your valleys and summits
as they love me? Endlessly, I taste and touch
though we remain lost in namelessness.

But our story has a name. Our love is told
in the heart of an eagle and on the breath of
a lion. Longing is programmed in our cells.

With their every death and division we expand
beyond the borders of our countries until we know,
as he knew, that no one, not even the rain,
has such small hands.

But there is no us. We had no then, we have no
now. In the light of memory we may shine and pulse
like the hottest star, but to give in would only
push us farther apart.

If you believed you took these pictures and I knew
I wrote these lines together we would tumble
from the heart's hidden chamber transforming longing
with the light of love.

Hush. Turn. Listen. Call me, and know that I will come.


I wrote this piece for Jasper before we were together. What happened was this: I

knew him for a while because we were in an astrology class together (his brother is an

astrologer.) Though a nice guy, I wasn't particularly

interested in him and besides, I was living with my boyfriend at the time but then we

somewhat unexpectedly broke up in the summer and I was single again. I still wasn't

thinking much about Jasper as a romantic possibility until one day in October. On that

day everyone in the course went out to a beer garden afterward. I remember that

Jasper was sitting across from me talking about his job I think (he's a criminal defense

lawyer.) In the middle of his story I had the irrisistable urge to reach across the table

and take his hand in mine. Of course I didn't as we were in a group and it would have

been very, very strange but still, the whole thing struck me like a thunderbolt. Soon

after I started having all these dreams with him in them. Usually something pretty

horrible would happen, like I was forced to live in this house that wasn't safe, but at

some point he would always show up and hold me or take my hand and it always felt so

comfortable, so loving, so intimate. None of these feelings matched our relationship in

real life. In fact, we hardly ever even talked at all, just saw each every other weekend

in astrology class. But I asked myself how could I be having these re-occuring dreams

that were so intense if it really, truly had nothing to do with real life? Then in late

November I got a three-day job in Hannover teaching English to people who work for

the German railway (I did this in several German cities to help prepare them for the

World Cup and was in Hannover four times.) Hannover has got to be one of the most

boring cities in the world but on that particular trip the weather was so stormy and the

light so beautiful that I took a lot of pictures on my time off, several of which I put on

my profile in the category "Stormy Weather." When I got to my hotel room the light

continued to be beautiful and I felt inspired to take the series of self-portraits that are

rotating on the cube above. What's amazing about those pictures to me is that all of

them are very different and none of them really look like me, and yet something about

them captures how I often feel inside. When I looked at those pictures and thought

about Jasper it occured to me: Aren't dreams as real, in there own way, as concrete

reality? Here was this person with whom who I had an intense connection only in my

dreams but how did that have any less value? Wasn't it a separate world where we

would always be together but constantly apart? And so I wrote the poem and made a

book later where I wrote the stanzas across each picture in gold ink. A few months

later Jasper and I did get together, though I wasn't really expecting it. Four months ago

we had our first child. I guess my dreams were right.


To make the collage I took a 4 by 6 copy of the photograph with added effects and mounted it on cardboard, adding a ribbon for easy hanging. I then put tracing paper over the picture and wrote a section of the poem around my face. I coated the collage with matte lacquer and, once it had dried, added black ribbon as a border. I love using earlier inspiration for new inspiration! Below is a slide show of the photograph in all its incarnations.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me....

So today is my 34th birthday. It's been pretty low key. I hung out in bed and read with my baby Mia beside me while my husband brought me breakfast, cake and flowers. I don't think I got up before 2 o'clock which is impressive even for me, the queen of loungers. Sleep last night wasn't so great. Mia (and hubby Jasper) both have colds which means that she was restless and he snored. I also was hyped up, as I sometimes get, with thousands of ideas for a story I'm working on, stuff I want to make, stuff I want to add to my Etsy shop. Etsy is so addictive and I know I'm not alone! Anyway, we (hubby and I)wanted to go out to a restaurant tonight, maybe spontaneously invite a few friends, but the Austrian place I was dying to go to was all booked out and he really isn't feeling well, so we are doing the celebrating tomorrow. You'd think I would be bummed, but actually I feel great because my birthday wish came true: I got a sewing machine!! Originally I wanted to pick one up in my old neighborhood, the shabby, ill-famed Neukölln. There is a sewing machine shop near where I used to live and, since the area is very far from being posh, I figured the prices would be ok. The prices were good (I could have gotten a good beginners machine for about 163 Euros) but the shop closed at 1 o'clock (or 13 Uhr as they say here)and I didn't get there until 4. Damn you Germany with your archaic early closing hours on Saturdays!! Determined, I came home and started doing some Internet research. From what I gathered, some of the machines and manufacturers are iffy, but you can't go wrong with a Pfaff. I went on Ebay and saw several for sale. One of them, an older model, belonged to a Deutsche Oma (German grandmother.) German grandmas are amazing for their one most distinct features: analness in preserving things. That is why there are so many fabulous antiques here that you can buy for next to nothing. Thank you Deutsche Oma, for your industriousness and cleanliness! Anyway, because it belonged to a German grandma I could rely on the fact that it would be in mint condition. Even better, it came with a box of needles, thread, bobbins, the works. 13 people had already bid on it, but they didn't know that I, the queen of Ebay was watching (nearly all the furniture in my current and former apartment was bought on Ebay, cool 50s and 60s stuff that I got at a bargain!) I swept in at the last minute and got it for 76 Euros, which was exactly what I wanted to pay. My mother gave me 80 Euros for my birthday and I'm pretty broke right now, so it would have been unwise and frivilous (two very un-German traits!)to spend more than that. I can't wait to try it out! Besides altering vintage I also want to add hand sewn recycled bags and purses to my Etsy shop. I am taking a sewing class right now at the adult school and have learned two things: 1. I am very, very, very slow (slower than basically everyone in the class) 2. I am also very accurate. I have a knack for sewing and have wanted to do it pretty much ever since I can remember. And, in about a week when the sewing machine gets delivered, I finally can as much as I want. Hoorah! Happy birthday to me!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Behind the scenes: The making of the collage

When I was a little girl I loved to read. I read all sorts of books, but what I especially loved were fairy tales. The Grimm's Brothers stories were a bit too gruesome, with crows picking out people's eyes and Cinderella's stepsisters cutting off pieces of their feet (much different than the cleaned up Disney version!!) What I really loved were the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, sad stories, but also so beautiful. But I remember the pictures mattered just as much as the text. There were certain books I never liked just because I found the illustrations not so great. Ever since my daughter was born last April, I have started returning to loves of the past. One of these loves is vintage fairy tale illustration, another is poetry, and yet another, collage. You can find so many wonderful vintage illustrations on the Internet and nearly all of them are in the public domain. I started collecting them and adding digital effects so they felt more like they were "mine." Poetry came soon afterwards. I wrote a lot of poetry in my late teens and early 20s, but stopped for some reason at about 25 when I focussed more on prose. Sometime in the summer, poetry came back. I started posting them all on my blog on MySpace and had a few published in a literary magazine. Collage was also something I loved in my early 20s. I once made my (now) ex-husband a book of collage and poems, a different one on 37 pages. But, like the poetry, at some point the interest faded away. Now, thanks to my baby's inspiration, I like to combine all three on occasion. My newest collage, They are ALL of us is an example. I found the beautiful illustration of a prince and princess (so I assume) in the woods and added effects to round off the image and give it a canvas so that it looked like an oil painting. Recently I had it printed as a photograph, not sure what I would ultimately do with it. A few days ago I started thinking about what I have already written here, how much I loved to read fairy tales as a child. I came up with the text: When I was a child I read fairy tales every Saturday on the bathroom floor, locking the door so no one could come in. What I didn't know then was I AM the stories. WE are the stories. They are ALL of us. Not exactly a poem, the text has a poetic feel. And I do feel that way about fairy tales. There is something so universal about them, the same sorts of stories showing up in every culture. At this point I knew I wanted to make a collage, but I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to organize it. I never plan out my collages, just let them happen as I go along. This is not always the greatest thing; I have ruined several by adding something I didn't like and then the paper ripped when I tried to remove it or by adding sealant when I should have known it was ill-advised; but I love the spontaneity of the creativity even if it doesn't always work out. Anyway, I added the text, but the collage was still missing something. I looked at the woman and realized she had something more of a queen about her than a princess. The man seems to almost be bowing to her, in awe. Maybe she has been enchanted and forced to work for a witch in the forest (hence the hatchet and fire wood.) Thus, I added a golden crown to bring out her queenliness. Color was still lacking , so I brought out my box of scraps and added a piece of green and hot pink felt and two pieces of thin black ribbon. And now the collage is finished. I'm pleased with the result. Take a look at the slide show, presenting the story of a collage and then, if you wish, come and visit my Etsy shop where it can be purchased!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

This is the graffitti in my neighborhood....

It's amazing how easy it is to find inspiration out on the streets. I've always been a fan of graffitti. I don't mean tags, which are annoying and sometimes gang related (though I suspect a lot of them here are just done by bored teenagers.) Mural, like the kind done in San Francisco by muralistas are amazing, but they are too official to be graffitti and too amazingly done. But graffitti art, simple, sometimes impressive, I love. It is the work of an anonymous artist who is viewed by so many, often ignored and who never receive credit for what they have done. There is so much cool graffitti on my street- Mittenwalder Strasse in Berlin-Kreuzberg 61. Kreuzberg 61 is like the San Francisco neighborhoods The Mission and Noe Valley got together and had a love child. It's got a bit of the organic food loving, yuppie side like Noe Valley but is also filled with hipsters and is Multi-Kulti like the Mission (only with Arabs and Turks, not Mexicans.) It's also a bit on the pricey side for Berlin, though anyone who lives in New York, San Francisco or London would scoff at the word "pricey." For example, my husband and I live in a beautiful three bedroom flat with a huge living room, parquet floors and vaulted ceilings and we only pay 900 Euros a month (and again, for Berlin this is a bit on the expensive side!) Anyway, I love this area and I love my street and I love some of the graffitti art that is on it. I took pictures yesterday when I went out for a walk of some of my favorite stuff, like Pete the Frog King, Edwin the shy ghost and Ralf the angry worm (names I, of course, thought up myself!) Take a look at the slide show underneath to see the different works. I'm planning on doing something with them for my etsy shop, schaufenster ( What exactly I don't know yet. Maybe magnets or a book? We'll see where inspiration guides me!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Re-vamping Vintage

I really like that my blog is often also personal, with little tidbits about my life. I've read the blogs from other Etsy users and they seem to usually be rather impersonal and business orientated, like "I made this really great new necklace. It has rose quartz and a skeleton carved out of my grandma's bone. What a great piece of work! Come take a look at!" We already have our product description, it seems like blogs should give us more than that. Ok, that was my soap box for this evening. Things are going pretty good here in Berlin. I went out to the Turkish market on Maybachufer today to buy some cloth. We are making a cool purse thing tomorrow and sewing class and I chose purple and gray jersey to make it with. I can't wait to get a sewing machine. Not much money in my bank account right now, but my birthday is on Saturday, and my mom said she would contribute some money towards one, so if I can find a good deal I will get one at the beginning of next week. I'm not really that ambitious about making my own clothes yet. It seems like a lot of work not to mention pricey and I'm wondering whether I'd have the patience. I know I'll make some bags and things and I'm going to make a green dress as my final "project" for the class (that way I will know if I like it or not...") But what I really want to do, what I've dreamed about for years, is re-vamping vintage. I love vintage clothes, cloth and patterns from the 60s and 70s. But there is a problem. Occasionally you can find a piece; a dress, a skirt, a sweater; that is cool to wear but often they are just simply too dated. The neckline is too high, the color too pointy, the skirt too long. Maybe some people can get away with it, but if I were to wear stuff like that I would feel like I were going to a Brady Bunch themed costume party! But if you just made some adjustments, changed hemlines and necklines, added stuff, etc. you could create really amazing pieces, old stuff meets new inspiration. Anyway, I'll be updating how things are going along. Right now I'm already doing something with a vintage floral dress I bought on ebay earlier this year. Here it is:

It is ok really, just somewhat boring and a tad too grandma. I've had it in a bag of things I want to give away for a few months, but recently I pulled it out and was inspired. The biggest problem with the dress is that it lacks pep. For example, the buttons are simply dull- dark purple, cheap.

Luckily, the most amazing shop in the world, Knopf Paul (Button Paul)is right around the corner from me. They sell only buttons there, thousands upon thousands of modern and vintage buttons made of glass, plastic, metal, bone wood....I took the dress there for inspiration and wound up coming home with these.

Cute little vintage babies, are they not? Anyway, that was a few days ago and I've been busy with other things and have not yet attached them. When I do I will be sure to have a photo session with the results. Ok, off to bed.....
p.s. I love these photographs. They totally remind me of spending childhood days in Arizona!
Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Monday, February 11, 2008

The woman's curse.....

God was really cruel when he thought up PMS. Women already have to bleed once a month from 12 to 50s and put up with the pain and, let's be honest, bloating and gas that go along with it. They have to give birth to children which, by the way, hurts like a fucking bitch. And, as if that wasn't enough they also have PMS....I don't always have PMS that bad, but since getting my period again (you don't get it the first six months if you breast feed)it has been especially bad. One week before aunt flo comes for a visit I'm sure my life is falling apart. This time it was guilt and worrying about money. My husband is the bread winner these days (though I still get money from the German government until April. 800 Euros a month Elterngeld (parent money)which all parents get the first year of their child's life, 68% of your income)and I can tell it is wearing him out a little. He is a freelance lawyer and has good times and bad times when it comes to getting clients. Our plan was that I get to stay home, raise our daughter (and baby x when he or she comes) do my writing and my art(and hopefully start getting some recognition), teach and do proofreading a little for extra cash. But life is damn expensive, even here in Berlin, the cheapest of cheap cities. My father was always bitching and moaning about money. He earned a really good salary but lived in the ultra expensive Bay Area with four kids and wasn't very good at handling his finances (though this last one he would never admit to, but it's true. He's simply bad with money but thinks he's some stock market genius!) "If it weren't for you kids I'd be a rich man," I heard over and over growing up. Because of this I think I am especially sensitive to financial strain and stress. Parents and future parents who might read this, DO NOT EVER SAY TO YOUR CHILDREN WHAT MY FATHER SAID TO US!!! You can't imagine the guilt and shame it creates. You feel guilty for simply having needs. Not good! Anyway, the PMS blew it all out of proportion and I got really pissed off at my hubby. Feeling better now, except my baby is finally getting teeth and is crabby! She is so cute though. Here she is:

On a lighter note, I made a really cute bracelet on Etsy that I am proud of. Vintage flower buttons and a brass chain. I would like to find this one a home, but I will definitely make one for myself. There is the coolest button store one street over called Knopf Paul (button paul). I have also added some photographs to my site, including the main one to my blog here Schaufensterbabe. Only up one day and it's already been looked at 42 times. Alright!

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Feeling better...

So I'm feeling much better now though it was another sleepless night. I also had a dream yesterday afternoon (during a nap with Mia)that disturbed me. In the dream I put some animals (pets I had at various times in my life)down in the basement while I worked on re-doing the kitchen. I told my dog Buster that it would only be for a little while. I just didn't have time for them during the renovations therefore they had to stay in the down there. I got distracted, kept working on the kitchen and neglected bringing up my pets. Suddenly I realized that they must have died. I went down to the basement with Jasper and knew Buster was gone. He (Jasper)came out with a bag of small animals who were all dead. My rat Hope who I had as a teenager was there. I felt terrible and didn't even want to open it but then I did and saw that the snake Janet Jackson was still alive (I never had a snake named Janet Jackson, but I did have one named Jorge!) She must be starving I thought. I had to get her something to eat. I would take her to the pet store and get some advice on what to feed her. But then I realized I didn't have a license for her and I could get in big trouble (case of dream logic there.) She looked like a gopher snake so I figured pinkie mice would be good but I wasn't sure how many. If I got her four and she only ate two then more animals would die (they were too young for me to take care of)and I didn't want that. I woke up soon afterwards and felt creeped out and a little depressed. Maybe it doesn't sound like much of a nightmare, but the thing is, it is a variation on a theme I often dream about: neglecting animals for some reason or another. But this was the first time they ever died in a dream. Normally I remember them and somehow they are miraculously alive (bunnies in a cage I forgot to feed for six months, etc.) The fact that this time it was too late to rescue them was somehow really disturbing....
On a lighter note, I made some cool stuff last night for Etsy. Going back on a jewelry kick which was cool after making all the collages for a while. I also got some photos printed which I will have blown up and add later. I love my eclectic mix! Sewing class also went well. I made a cute little bag and can't wait until I have a little extra cash to buy a sewing machine. It's so much fun and I've learned that if you go extra slow and measure everything anally it goes really well even for a novice klutz like me! Anyway, here is a slideshow of the jewelry I made plus some better pictures of older stuff.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tired but inspired....

Man, I am so tired right now. It is actually a lot of work trying to get my work out there and viewed. I spent some time on the Etsy Forums today to try and find like minded people. I always kill threads though. Still, I did find a cool dress someone else made. Check it out:
Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Birds. Just my thing. It would look hideous on me though. A few of my items got favorited and I am up to 30 hearts. No sales though. I just uploaded some pictures onto Flickr but didn't have the patience to add tags and what not. I would love to update my weekend, what's been going on (a lot) my nightmare about the tsunami, but I am just too damn tired to do much of anything. Besides, no one is probably reading this blog anyway. It is just my little virtual diary and it will just have to wait until I spill out all my secrets. One thing that isn't a secret: I am totally obsessed with collages. Here are the most recent ones I made. Cool!
Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cool, creative weekend...

Well, I had great weekend (with plenty of sleep I might add.) I would love to write all about it here but I'm just too damn tired. Here is a slide show with some of the collages I made over the weekend. Enjoy! Be back later.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008


What can I say? Indiepublic rocks!

Soon to come at my Etsy shop!


Feeling fresh after an insomnia fresh night of sleep, I thought I would just post a photo cube of three items that I will soon be offering at my Etsy shop Schaufenster. Here it is (if you want a closer look at the pictures, just click on them!)

One night at three in the morning, as I was suffering from the ravages of insomnia I thought "You, I wonder if it would be possible to combine hot pink, King Kong and Brooklyn?" And I found out it is! I have to finish hand-sewing the cool pink lace with a yellow undertone onto the shirt (hot pink, American apparel)but when I do, this altered fashion will be looking for a new home. I am still seeking inspiration for what to do with the vintage hat in the photo. It has a cool 70s/40s look to it, but I need to decide how I want to alter it before I put it up for sale. The third item is a bright blue felt cuff I made, then attached a puffy pink heart. The one in the photo is one I wear myself, so I have to wait until I get around to making another one to put on Schaufenster. Actually, all three of the items would look really cool together. Stay tuned. Who knows? Maybe someday they might be yours. In the meantime, please be a lamb and stop by my shop. I would be ever so grateful!
Buy Handmade

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Man, am I ever tired. It's 11:30 and I'm seriously praying that I will be able to sleep. Soon I will take a bath and then we will see. I was looking at some of the the Internet sites today that I've heard like Indiepublic and Deviantart. It seems like one could just spend so much time on the Internet, couldn't one? But I'm feeling negative again. Sometimes it seems like I spend so much energy trying to grab at the world and the world just doesn't grab back. I don't know. Maybe I'm still disappointed that my story The Ring didn't get published in Glimmer Train. It got such good feedback and I really thought it would fit nicely there. I know rejection is the name of the game but I'm just tired in more ways then one. My husband's brother has an acquaintance painter friend (he is also a painter)who has been painting for 15 plus years and had his one and only show a couple of years back. His stuff is really amazing- there's this one where people are diving into a swimming pool that has such detail; the grass growing between the cracks in the sidewalk, the side of a girl's face; and so much feeling. His painting are filled with understated loneliness. And yet here he is, this amazing painter in his early 40s who has only had one show where he sold nothing. He is also a bit of a bitter hermit, holed away in his one room coal oven apartment in Prenzlauerberg. But he plugs away- keeps on painting though he barely makes enough to live, keep on painting though he has nothing to retire on, no house on Mallorca with the other German retirees for him. He has no choice. I have no choice. But I'm tired of not being noticed. So much of my life has been lived internally, like on this blog, as though I were born a half a mile below the ground and all of my life has been spent clawing inch by inch towards the surface. For the first time maybe I now feel like I am above ground but now I want to fly, to soar. I want someone to notice. It's funny. I have Virgo rising which is how I need to go through life: the cautious observer. But on the 12th house cusp I have the sign of Leo and if there is one thing Leo wants it is to be noticed. To be adored to be celebrated. The sign on the cusp of the 12th is your hidden motivation however, sometimes hidden even from yourself. My brother-in-law, who is also an astrologer, explained it as thus: Your ascendant is a dinner party you are throwing; who you invite, what you cook, where you are having it. But the sign on the 12th house cusp is the reason WHY you are throwing the party. If you have the same sign on the 12th as on the 1st then your motivations will match your actions: You are throwing the party because you like your friends and you would like to see them. But if the sign is different, your motivations won't necessarily match the outside, upfront action, i.e. throwing the party. You say you are throwing a party and making veal parmesean and inviting all of your best friends, but really it is an excuse to bring together Ron and Lisa, Ron recently divorced, Lisa attractive but terminally single. I live my life on the outside as a Virgo: stringing words upon one another into sentences, making lines of tiny stitches with a needle, scattering my thoughts and ideas and images in various places on the Internet. But I do it because I want to be noticed. Maybe even celebrated. This reminds me of a poem I wrote a while back when I was having my poetry renaissance for some reason. Here it is

Just as a stone drawn from a well
sparkles deep red with silver lines
that same stone will dull to brown and gray
once the water dries.

But haven't I already heard this story?

If my life were recorded in a leather bound book
by a scribe he would write: Here is where
she starts to live above the ground.

But sometimes I long for the richness
of my hibernation as does a seed before it roots.
How it's white heart beats beneath the husk
before it decides to shoot through earth.

Are each of us bound to stretch towards the light
bending our heads like sunflowers across the plains?
The scribe writes my answer to be yes.

But always my soul will sometimes cower in the darkness
dissolving into a wordless jungle soup meant to soothe
the throats of those who seek to shout across oceans.

Listen. Can you hear their voices
tangle in a wind heavy with salted air?

Nothing will ever mask their mournfulness.

Actually, that's not the one I was thinking of, but it also fight (they are all archived on MySpace)

Here is the other one:

To live the internal life is to hold one star you keep in a box at the back of your closet. Nobody knows its white brilliance or how it dances around when you let it out in your room at night. It is to dwell so deep you have forgotten your fire is not like the sun.

To live the internal life is to chop wood in the forest but not make a sound, your footprints as small as a swallow's. It is to know, by heart, all the lines on your hands in their jungle richness but with them, you sometimes touch none.

And the painter who paints the beautiful paintings alone in his one bedroom apartment in Prenlauerberg, his hands black with coal dust, will he die a sad man, regretting what he had done? Is a life with toil but no achievement, no notice, is it in the end worth it? Do I toil hard enough or do I get too distracted, my life scattering in so many directions like a jar of marbles dropped in slow motion? These are my questions. I want to leave here with an image.

This is me, by the ocean that I love....

Insomnia reared it's ugly head...

Yes, once again insomnia reared it's ugly head last night. I was so tired at 10 but was afraid that I wouldn't be able to sleep again and that is exactly what happened...I took some B vitamins today in hope that they might help. If someone reads this and has never had insomnia, it is as close to torture as you can come. Lying in bed, so tired, want to sleep but can't, wide awake as soon as you open your eyes. No creative wanderings last night though. I was too dang tired to get up even though I couldn't sleep. And then Mia started being really demanding, wanting to be cuddled and sleep in the bed (future parents to be, if you let your child sleep in the bed with you, you might never, ever get them out!!) Theoretically she should be able to self soothe now, or at least be learning it, and if Jasper doesn't get more sleep soon he is going to flip his wig. For the first time ever we put her crib in the other room and let her cry it off. Poor neighbors! I couldn't hear her this morning and ended up sleeping til 10 (which means I got maybe 4 hours of sleep. Yipee!) She probably woke up at 9 or something, because when I came into the room she was pissed!! I'm telling you, I would pay top dollar for a guranteed 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep....
It's been dark all day, with slate gray skies barely letting in the light. God, I hate Winter. I have some ideas for some stuff I want to make with vintage photographs I collect, also maybe a mini book with photos or some of the Poetic Beauties stuff with my poems. I will then, of course, put them on Etsy. But I have the feeling again that I need to slow down there. Every day I get a rush of anticipation, a "did I make a sale?" feeling. I've been marketing and going to the forums but still not making any. I don't want to burn out because I think it's such a cool idea and it's so fun making stuff again. Probably, I just need to get out, go to a cafe and do some writing. But in this weather? Ick...Jesus, this blog post is another downer. If you don't know me then blame it on insomnia and Winter because I'm not usually like this. On a more positive note, don't you think this little card is cute? (From an Etsy seller I discovered today.) I'm considering buying it.
Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pleased as punch...

So I had hardcore insomnia AGAIN last night. (Not pleased about that!) Up until 4 in the fricking morning even though I was dead tired....It's strange; insomnia is something that I often suffer from but it has changed the last few days. The reason I can't sleep is that these images keep on coming into my mind about things I can make for Etsy or in general. Creative I suppose, but for crying out loud! I can go to the hardware store in the afternoon the next day and get inspired. Didn't do any writing yesterday which I think is one of the reasons that I was so hyped up. I have a new theory: writing is my creative downer, making and designing stuff is my creative upper. If I only make stuff then I get kind of manic whereas if I only write I can get fed up and frustrated. Just got to keep the balance right.....Did some good free-writing today though. It's funny: I almost always write best in cafes I don't really like. I wanted to go to Hermannplatz today to get some sewing supplies and go to the aforementioned hardware store but I was just too dog tired to walk there and I tried to avoid the U-Bahn as it is a pain in the ass with the baby stroller. So I went to Locus, a cafe on Marheinkeplatz that I already know I don't like because it is boring and full of 68ers (old school Berlin hippies who can be a bit annoying sometimes). But I went there and it was great for writing; big windows to look out onto the square, not very loud, full enough (I can never write very good when there's nothing going on) but with people who were ok. Uptight though, at least a few of them. Since I've come back from my visit to California I marvel yet again how unrelaxed so many Berliners are. Sticks shoved waaayyy up their asses. A lot of young mothers are also really uptight. Like the one today who left her baby outside in the stroller as he was sleeping. She asked me to let her know if he woke up since I was right by the window. He slept for maybe twenty minutes while she read and drank her coffee. When he started to stir I told her and she leapt. She brought him in and immediately started scolding him "No Tilo, you're supposed to be sleeping!!" (He was only about four months old.) Even though he was totally calm and just looking around curiously she got all hectic, paid and left immediately. "Why not sit down with him in your lap or in the stroller and chill a little?" I thought. Mia sat on my lap there for two hours and played with her rattle while I wrote. Then again, I already know I'm lucky that she is that low-key. Several of my friends have babies who are waayyy more active. Ah, my lovely little lazy bones! :)
Now here comes the pleased as punch part: though the insomnia was torturous, I got two new things for Etsy out of it, both of them vintage items that I knew I wanted to add something to or alter for a long time, but could never think of any good ideas. The first one was an vintage ivory necklace that just didn't have enough pizazz. I kept on adding charms to it, etc., but nothing every worked. Then I combined a shell charm with a filigree one and low and behold: it worked! It has something kind of Virgin Mary about it which I like. The other piece was this cool belt printed with three wolf cubs. It was always missing something, but I had kind of given up on it. Then I started arranging some stuff on it and loved the 1930s buttons with the fabric. Funny, I had also given up on those buttons too. Thought I might even try to sell them on Etsy because I didn't think I would use them. Fun, fun, fun! That's what Etsy has been. But I'm trying to take it slow because I'm afraid I'll get disappointed if I never really sell anything again. I sold one necklace right away (beginners luck)and another one to a friend unexpectedly but since then nothing. When I first started doing CafePress I got really excited and into it. Learned all about Photoshop, added my own text and poems to vintage illustration, added effects to a lot of photographs. I did the whole marketing bit: MySpace, Craig's List, Squidoo, etc., etc. Still, I only got two sales from strangers and some more from family members. Very disappointing and discouraging, especially after I put so much work into it! I don't want that to happen with Etsy. I made a MySpace page yesterday and added those two new items. But I want to keep the focus on fun. Shucks, who am I kidding? Of COURSE I'll be disappointed if no one ever buys from me, but I'll try really hard to keep it into perspective and make sure I'm having fun. It is a creative outlet and expression, something that gives me joy, and although I would like the business side of it to also come somewhat into play (just make enough to pay for the hobby would be good enough to start with...)it's still not the most important point. Anyway, we'll see....For now I'll add a pic of those two new pieces I made things to the rages of insomnia!

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Monday, January 28, 2008


It's been a bit of a blah day. Doing lots of little things and not really getting anything done. And still gray skies without the slightest bit of movement. God, we really take the sun for granted in California. I am most likely in Berlin for good but I will never, ever like or really get used to Winter. I just know it doesn't have to be like this. Sigh.

On a brighter note, I did make a new slide show for my etsy site. Here it is. Enjoy!


P.S. Tomorrow I will hopefully be more chatty and vibrant....

Man, am I ever tired...

I was up until three a.m. last night, typing up Men with Knives and chatting on the Etsy forums. I have a bit of an obsessive streak- it's a family thing. (p.s. isn't it always a family thing?) My new obsession is tied in somewhat with Etsy (although it DOES rock, so this is a good thing!) There is sometimes some sad stuff on there though, like a woman who begged people to buy her pet rocks or they would switch off her internet connection or another who wrote about how depressed she is because no one buys anything from her and all she does is market. She doesn't even get up to pee! Then again, maybe these are just another form of marketing, the pity sell or something. If I get that bad, please, someone, shoot me! It's not surprising that I've found another Internet interest. Since I've been at home with Mia I've gotten more into the Internet than I ever thought I would in a million years. And I say this as I'm writing an entry on my new blog. Sheesh! Well, c'est la vie.... Now off to make some coffee so I don't keel over....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

This is your Berlin Family

It's interesting to have the Berlin family here, my husband's family, to which I belong. I am a foreigner who speaks German with a fat American accent and I always will. And yet I am part of the family somehow and what a good feeling. We went out to dinner to celebrate my husband nephew Max's 19th birthday. There we were, with Max's mother and her new boyfriend, Max's half-sister, her father and his girlfriend, my husband and baby Mia, Alexander and his son. And, always coming late and leaving early, Jürgen. A bunte Mischung as they would say in Germany and far from being nuculear. But that is one of the things I love: Both of us come from broken families that have gone their own paths and are still so alive. I belong with a foreigner as does he and Mia bridges the gap. Just spent an hour or so chatting on Etsy forums. This is going to mean something to me, making things I love and selling them. I don't know how or exactly in what way. Maybe it will just open the door for a new idea as I think CafePress did. That's what I love about life. When it is like a wave you ride and you don't know when the ebb will stop but it is taking you and is secure enough. Just trust, sit back and see what will happen. Ok, now I need to type up the notes for Men with Knives. I have been putting it off long enough....

What a grand old day....

Life is simply full of surprises. Yesterday I was down and despairing, but today everything seems wonderful. Well, not the weather...That's as gray and crappy as it always is in Berlin in Winter. But creatively things are simply looking up. I finished a story that I've been working on forever, Men with Knives. It will surely need some tuning up but it is more or less a finished product and will be about 15 pages long I think. I also have new ideas for my Etsy shop, Schaufenster. I would like to add collage pendants with some of my photographs and text and some of the things that I will be sewing in my sewing class. It's funny: I think in some ways writing is like work. Painful, seldom fun but something that has to be done. But when I achieve something I feel so restful and such an immense satisfaction....Designing, sewing and making jewelry is more like creative play and oh so enjoyable. Yet when it is all I do I feel a little bit off kilter, as though I've eaten too much candy. That is the challenge: To combine work with play in a way that is satisfying. And all of it is creative. Teaching will have to come back into play too, because my daughter will soon be one year old and the year of government pay will be at an end. But I won't have to do too much of it which is good because I am a little burned out. And I want to live the creative life, pouring myself into what I do. For better or for worse, it is what I am made of....
If you want to check out my Etsy shop it can be found here: CafePress (which will soon be changed dramatically) can still be found here: As for the writing, maybe I'll post bits of it here, though somehow I have the feeling I would prefer to keep it more private. I shared a lot of it (especially poems) on my blog on MySpace so read it there if you want to get a taste for it:

Ok, enough links for now. Soon I'll feel like a slut for too much self-promoting. But this is who I am. Take a look if you like. If you don't it's just as well.

Ta ta for now and may the force be with you.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Home alone on a Saturday night

This is a dismal name for my first new blog on blogspot, but that is how I feel right now. Home. Alone. My husband went out with some friends of ours, a German woman and an Irish man but I had to stay home and watch the baby. Our ten month old Mia, the light of our life but recently, let's face it, a bit of a drag....We went to the Bay Area over Christmas where she got a lot of attention and I got to see a lot of people and the weather was good, not dull and gray like it is here in Berlin. And now I'm back here, alone a lot, with a baby who is ever more demanding. An Aries with Mars in the first house, for any astrology buffs. For those of you who don't know squat about astrology, that means I seriously have my work cut out for me. But I love being a mom. I do. It's just that now, for the first time, it seems hard. I went out with my friend Erica on Thursday night sans baby and hubby and I was like a crazy woman. We went bar hopping to three different places and it wasn't even 10! And my husband Jasper is also feeling the bug, hence his going out tonight and staying out for a while. I understand the need and I don't even mind giving the space but still....Here I am...Home alone on a Saturday night.
But the good news: I worked a lot on a short story that I'm happy with. I am an aspiring writer and have several finished short stories and poems and have been published in smaller magazines but recently I've been a bit discouraged. Maybe because a story I thought had a chance at Glimmer Train didn't cut the mustard. Maybe because I know there's a good chance that I'll spend all of my life slaving away on all of the stories and no one will ever give a damn. The problem is I have to write. If I don't- or when I don't- a small cloud of dissatisfaction gets larger and larger until I can't see straight anymore. I get irritable. Blame my own unhappiness on things not really related to it....But I'm not one of those people who is so "into" being an artist. Honestly, I wish I were something else. Something easier like say, a marine biologist like I wanted to be when I was in Junior High. There must be something satisfying in that. In getting excited about kelp samples and what not. Maybe it's just a case of the grass is greener on the other side, but let me dream now why don't you. What I also love is photography, sewing and making things. Hence, my new site at etsy with the name of Schaufenster. I've already sold two things and I've only been at it a week, so something must be right....Anyway, here's the stuff I sell. I have a feeling I'll be back....If you read this and just couldn't get enough, I also have a blog on MySpace where I post my wacky dreams among other things at MySpace.

Buy Handmade


Blog Widget by LinkWithin