Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wish Me Luck

Just a little post to share with you how excited I am that I have only one more month until Baby Li starts going to pre-school along with Miss Mia. This means I'll have a lot more time for writing, etsy, myself in general.....and singing.

Yes, singing. I definitely want to take it up again now that I'll be more baby free. In fact, I'm meeting with a Brazilian guitarist this weekend. We're going to see if perhaps we're on the same page with what we want to do musically.

Although I'm excited, I'm also definitely nervous because I haven't sung in a while and I want to branch out more in the direction of jazz though my training is classical. It's also hard to know if this Brazilian will be the right person. Finding someone to make music with is kind of like finding a relationship. Just because you're looking and they're looking doesn't necessarily mean the chemistry will be right....

Then again, singing has always scared me a little. I love to sing and people tell me I'm good at it, but it makes me feel vulnerable in a way I don't usually otherwise feel in life. But, as a friend of ours says, it's always important to go where the fear is....

By the way, I've been meaning to share with you for a while these fabulous vintage 1960s sheer raspberry gloves I bought about a month ago from Rock Zombie Oldies. The number 5 Bakelite ring is also from one of my favorite jewelry shops on Etsy, Petit Oiseau. The shop owner, Heather, just had a baby, so she's taking a little break, but I can't wait for her to come back because I love her stuff. The pink ring is one I made. Just for the record, I wouldn't actually wear both of them at the same time with the gloves as I think it's a bit too much. I may be funky and quirky, but I'm not that funky and quirky! ;)

Ok, wish me luck!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Brand-Spanking-New Blog

Anyone who has read this blog for more than about five seconds could probably guess that a) I like to write and b) I like old stuff. It will probably come as no surprise then, when I tell you I've started a new blog, tied to my vintage clothing store Curious Knopf.

Don't you worry your pretty little head, however: I will still be writing on this blog. The posts will remain as they have been, i.e. more personal about my daily life in Berlin with occasional updates about what's going on in etsyland.

On my new blog I plan to write more in general about living vintage as well as offer tips for doing so in Berlin. Anyway, enough said. Why don't you just mosey on over and take a look for yourself by clicking here. ;)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Turn On Your Heartlight

Try as I might, I just can't think of the 80s as retro and vintage, or at least not in the cool sense of either of the words. Sure, I was all about plastic bangles in primary colors, knotted pearl necklaces and colorful baggy striped shirts, but that was in the 6th grade. When you're twelve, if everyone is wearing stirrup pants and Keds with no laces then you wear stirrup pants and Keds with no laces. Why in the world anyone in their 20s would choose to wear this hideous gear in the year 2010 is beyond me (although I will admit, I haven't seen stirrup pants yet. I guess that will be next year's trend...) Let's face it people. I'm just too old. Imagine my old lady shock when I ran across this video on YouTube a month or so ago where this 80s freelance fashion writer gives tips on finding the best 80s duds:

People, if you ever run across an NKOTB t-shirt at a thrift store, please promise me you will purchase it only to immediately burn it and therefore put it out of it's misery.

Still, the 80s thing can be funny sometimes. Like when I ran into this on Etsy earlier today:

This exact same E.T. stuffed animal sat on my bed for years (a pink canopy bed I might add. Ooh la la!) I remember all too well going to see the movie when it came out in '82 and being outraged when Amadeus won the academy award that year (in the meantime, however, I do kind of have to admit that Amadeus was actually a much better movie than E.T....) I was so proud that I didn't cry when everyone thought he was dead because I proved I was oh-so-tough. If I wanted to, I could take a permanent trip down memory lane by buying this little guy here for $35.

I even got a little bit jealous when I saw this. I was big into the Pound Puppies but I never had the Pound Puppy transistor radio! What better way to catch up on all my former light rock favorites than with this little pooch. For sale here for the amazingly low price of 15 bucks.

Strawberry Shortcake was another favorite. I could buy her or Raspberry Tart's head at the shop Make It Cute. Still, the doll I would really want is Lemon Meringue. She was a much rarer doll to find. When I finally got her for my birthday, my sister soon ruined her forever by drawing glasses on her face with permanent marker. Thanks Renee....

But Make It Cute only has her clothes for sale (told you she was a hard doll to find.) By the way, I am talking to my sister again. That is, after years and years of therapy. ;)

So why is it that I wear vintage clothing and collect old things only from the 70s on down? I guess, when it comes down to it, I'm nostalgic for a time that was not really my own. Still, if someone on etsy were selling some old vinyl of Neil Diamond singing Heartlight, I would consider buying it. That is, for about half a second, before I finally came back to my senses. For now, I will have to go to good old YouTube to watch this lovely live version from 1988, where Neil rocks the Aquarius Theater:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not Right For Us

So I just got word today that my short story "Weightless" has been rejected for the Glimmer Train New Writer's Contest. I've been in the short story writing racket long enough not to take it all that personally. After all, only 1 to 2 percent of what a magazine gets sent is actually published. Still, I couldn't help but be hopeful this time round because the story is damn good and it's gotten lots of really positive feedback. If not an actual cash award, I was hoping to at least get on the list of honorable mentions. But no dice.

You try to be cool about these things, to accept more or less constant rejection with grace but it's not always all that easy. It's hard to pour all that time and emotional energy into a story only to toss it into a well and never have it come back up. "Thanks for your submission, but it's just not right for us."

I like some of the stories I read in literary magazine and some of them I don't. But w
hat I can never really see is the difference. Why are they being published while I'm not? Sometimes I fear it is all just something as precarious as luck.

If nothing else, I suppose it's good I was born with
a gambling nature....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Something happened today that happens all too often: while ordering a latte macchiato to go at Barcomi's, the waitress heard my accent and started talking to me in English. There are two groups of people who do this. Group A, the jerky people who want to show off how good their English is (and it rarely ever is all the good) and/or assume that, since I am American, I am far too stupid to have actually learned German (sadly, this is a stereotype I've heard expressed sometimes by arrogant younger people...) Group B, friendly people who think it will be a nice way to connect with me. The waitress definitely fell into Group B, so I did chat a little bit with her in English, but then switched quickly back to German. Normally, I will just ignore the English and keep on talking in German. Why? Because I hate it when this happens.

I'm not the only person who hates it when Germans start talking to me in English. Every single expat I know doesn't like it for the same reason: It makes us feel exposed. Vunerable....

It's as though the person is going out of their way to point out "You are different and we know it." I know this isn't their intention, but that's how it makes us feel.

So if you are a German-speaker and you hear someone speaking your language who has an accent, unless they obviously are a tourist and can only say Danke and Auf Wiedersehen, please don't start talking to them in English.

Ich danke euch im Voraus. ;)

(photograph of woman with skeleton is a self portrait by the artist Marina Abramovic)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Meet The Props

When I photograph something for Schaufenster, I sometimes use random props like this vintage globe on a Bakelite stand (which, by the way, I got for free along with a truck load of other amazing things from an old lady's house in the middle of b.f. Brandenburg, but that is another story for another time....) Mostly, however, I use the same props again and again and I've gotten kind of fond of each one. Because of this, I thought I'd write a post to introduce you to my little Schaufenster Art & Vintage family. Here goes:

1. Otto, the Sekretär

Nearly all the photographs I take for Schaufenster are on top of good old Otto. Otto is a late 19th century Biedermeier secretary roll-top desk. He is an heirloom from Jasper's family that he inherited when his step-mother passed away around eight years ago. At the time Jasper didn't really even want to have Otto. He was still a bachelor living in a sparsely furnished apartment with a mattress on the floor. "What, are you crazy??" his brother said and then basically forced him to take the desk home with him when they cleaned out her apartment. I have one smart brother-in-law!

2. Trixie, the Two-Holed Vase

Trixie, a vintage 1950s vase, is actually for sale at Schaufenster. I've used her so much that I would feel a little bit sad if someone finally bought her. But I'd also get over it...You can take Trixie home with you with one easy click of a button if you go here.

3. Weeping Walter, the Very Sad Cow

Jasper's stepmother was, among other things, an artist and ceramist. Weeping Walter is one in a series of cow sculpture she made. Both Jasper and I think he looks sort of melancholy and maybe a little repressed, but then his stepmother was a rather stern person, so I guess the feeling fits.

4. Hank the Hand

Hank the hand is another of his stepmother's pieces that Jasper inherited. I am very fond of Hank as he is rather odd and masterfully crafted. I've heard before that hands are very hard to paint. I suppose they are also hard to sculpt, so I'm glad we have little Hank.

5. Arnie, the Arzberg Vase

Arnie is a vintage 1960s Arzberg vase in a very mod style that I gave Jasper for Christmas this year. Both he and I are really big fans of Arzberg porcelain, or at least their design classic series. They also did a lot of really kitschy stuff that I still like as it is extremely high quality. Jasper can't handle it though. It reminds him way too much of his grandmother. I guess I have the foreigners license to see the beauty in it.

6. Tick, Trick, Track und Onkel Dagobert, the Mid-Century Handmade Danish Design Candle Holders

These lovely teak candle holders were another of my Christmas presents to Jasper this year. I named them Tick, Trick, Track and Onkel Dagobert which are the German names for Huey, Dewey, Louie and Uncle Scrooge of Donald Duck fame. In Germany, instead of Duckville, they all live in Entenhausen (Ente=Duck in German).
Both Arnie and Tick, Trick, Track und Onkel Dagobert were bought at the fabulous ebay shop, Esthetiko. And yes, in case you're wondering, they do ship internationally.

7. Hermann the Horse

Hermann is new to the Schaufenster family, although I've had him a while. I bought him this past summer from a couple of kids. When the weather is nice in the summer, kids in Berlin like to set up shop with a blanket laid out on the sidewalk where they sell some of their beat-up old toys. I remember also being a young entreprenuer, with lots of get-rich schemes like selling painted rocks for five bucks a pop or the iron ore I collected from the desert sand with a magnet which I was sure must be worth a fortune. Once, when we were at my grandparent's cabin in Flagstaff, my sister, brother and I even made our own Fred Flintstone's Place out of old refrigerator boxes. The admission fee was only 6 dollars, yet no one came. Remembering our disappointment and because I like to make their day (as well as Miss Mia's and Baby Li's who, of course, adore presents) I always buy something from every kid blanket station I see. I think I paid about a Euro for Hermann. He is signed with some ballpoint scribbles on the side you can't see which makes him truly one of a kind.

To sign this post off, and to go off somewhat on a tangent, here is the link to Fred Flintstone's Place which is on a highway somewhere close to the Grand Canyon: Flintstone's Bedrock City. If you're ever in the area you should definitely stop by because it is bad-ass, or at least I thought it was when I was ten. ;)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ode To Hasenheide

What exactly is it I love about Hasenheide so much? Certainly it's not the drug dealers who haunt every entrance, though if you're not in the market for hashish they pretty much leave you alone. No, I think what I really love is that this park has room for just about everyone. Hipsters sit along side Lebanese families. Öko Muttis (Granola mommies) pack their babies in Kinder Caravans attached to the back of their bikes....

...there are children of all ages, including yipsters, my own word for young, student-y hipsters, the kind who are most likely to be wearing those terrible plastic frame 80s sunglasses, the guys with so much gel in their hair you wonder how many bugs they trap a day (yes, as you can see there is still a Berlin Fashion Police side of me lingering somewhere in the cattier side of my soul. ;) )

This being Neukölln (or at least partially) there are also plenty of those eccentric 50-something bachelors who like to wear lime green tank tops while cruising on their bikes to which they've added mirrors and an old ghetto blaster (always attached with several layers of duct tape), blasting Elvis or country music as they ride on by. I don't know why that neighborhood has so many strange old guys like that, but all I can say is viva la Neukölln!

Even the tres punky look of this bull in the new petting zoo is by no means out of place....

April was much kinder on us today, so we went for a leisurely stroll in the park with all these different mixes of people.

Miss Mia and Baby Li both waited very patiently...

...for daddy to return from the imbiss with.....

"hot dogs".


Of course, both Jasper and I busied ourselves with taking photographs....

...and having fun, but what else is new?

Eventually we headed for home, the babies and Jasper to Akku's for soccer and me home so I could write this blog post for you. Schönes Wochenende. :)


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