Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lessons Learned

So I learned a lot of valuable lessons today. Lesson Number One: Do not take a small child who is already potty trained to a museum where the bathroom is far away from the exhibits not to mention two floors down in the basement when you already know said child has a case of the runs.
Lesson Number Two: You will become your parents. I always hated telling my dad I had to go to the bathroom when we were in the car on long road trips between California and Arizona because his inevitable, irritated question was always "Why didn't you go the last time?"
But today, when Miss Mia told me she had to go diarrhea I rushed her and little Little Li across the museum and into the elevator as fast as their little toddler legs could carry them. Once we finally got to the bathroom she told me she didn't have to go anymore. We took the elevator back up and started looking at the dinosaurs only to have her tell me ten minutes later that she had to go. I scolded her. "Why didn't you go the last time?" I said. This time she really did have to go, so how can I blame her (and yes, in case you're wondering, we did make it on time.)
Lesson Number Three: When you are trying to wean a child who is very adamant about not being weaned as in screaming, flailing limbs, pawing at your chest, etc. do not, I repeat, do not wear that cute little vintage dress that you can not zip up or down by yourself in case giving in is simply the best solution.
Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity has probably figured out the museum I went to was the beloved Naturkunde Museum, i.e. Museum of Natural History. (you can click here to read a post I wrote about it in May). And yes, even with all these lessons being learned I still has time to snap a few photos and contemplate on why exactly it is that I'm so fascinated by dead things. ;)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Somebody's Mother

A few days ago Miss Mia and I had our photograph taken together at the photo booth on Zossenerstrasse next to Rossmann drugstore. We sat on the swivel chair, once painted to look a toad stool but now kind of brown and gunky-looking, put 2 Euros in the slot, smiled into the glass plate in front of the camera and then waited five minutes for the photographs to come out of the slot.
We've already taken photographs from this photo booth before. They are all hanging up on the metal utility box in our hallway; long strips of four, passport size old school black and white photos. I knew what to expect. But when this strip came out and was finally dry enough to touch, something was a little different. I looked at my smiling face in each of the photographs and thought "Oh my god. I look like somebody's mother."
Of course, it dawned on me about a half a second later that I AM somebody's mother, two somebodies even. But how did this ever happen? And what exactly does it mean to be "somebody's mother"? No question about it, the word "mother" certainly is loaded....
On several occasions I've run into old girlfriends of Jasper's, all of whom are lawyers or judges or professors. Although all of them were nice, things always got a little sticky each time they asked me what I do. I told them I've taught, I write, I sing and, oh yeah, I stay at home with the kids. Each time I mentioned this I could see that same flash in their eyes, that same faint outline of a smirk. "The woman who Jasper married is just a mother."
Sometimes I think this is a way in which feminism has gone wrong. Certainly it was necessary for women to emancipate themselves and it was terrible when motherhood was the only respectable choice they really had. But to be "just a mother" is certainly a derogatory term, especially among women; somehow, as a woman, you are less. Still, I have to admit the women who live in the land of Mommydom are the ones I feel the hardest to be around. You can see them at just about every playground, dressed in sweatpants and talking about pre-schools and after-school programs and baby yoga and diapers. I hope they are happy in Mommydom and, if they are, then more power to them, but the truth is, they freaking scare me....
But what does it really mean then, to be somebody's mother? It means a lot of things, but one of the main ones is sacrifice: For a long time, your needs simply come second. I don't mean you do this out of responsibility, though that is of course part of it, but simply because this is what they deserve. Everyone in the world deserves to have a beginning where they are cherished and loved, where they are kept warm and safe, where they are the first priority, but so many people don't. This is your chance to give that to another person and, really, it's an honor. If they don't get it now they will search for it the rest of their life and there's a good chance they will never find it.
No one in the world can probably wound you as deeply as your mother can wound you. I've found this scary sometimes and I think it's the reason so many mothers feel the pressure to be perfect. But you're only human and you do have needs and they are important even if they often come in second. And wounds do heal. They can and they do, but in their place there will always be a scar. Then again, the most interesting people I know are the people who have scars.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fairy Tale Frivolity In Volkspark Friedrichhain

Today I went with the fam on a little Sunday outing to Volkspark Friedrichhain. Volkspark Friedrichhain is a large park in former East Berlin. Although Friedrichhain is a neighborhood in East Berlin, the park seems to be in Prenzlauerberg and has a more Prezlauerberg-ish crowd (big difference between F'hain and P'berg for sure...) I've never actually been able to figure out why this is. Maybe part of the park is in Friedrichhain and the other in Prenzlauerberg? Hmm...I guess it's time to pull out the map.

Anyway, one thing I know for sure is that we entered the park at the Märchenbrunnen (Fairy Tale Fountain.)

I've always loved the Märchenbrunnen. It has just that right touch of grandiose kitsch I love so much. Not only that, it was also a popular gay cruising area in and even before the GDR (maybe it still is?)
I also read a Bernie Gunter mystery where they found a body there that had been mutilated in a particularly gruesome way. I really recommend those books by the way. They are by the English writer Philip Kerr and, besides being great hard-boiled mysteries, they really give you a feel for what it must have been like to be a German who detested the Nazis but felt helpless against the madness that was all around you...
Miss Mia was there as was Baby Li, though she seems to have decided to go through the terrible twos a little bit early, so the photo below is pretty much the only one I was able to take of her.

At some point I left a very cranky Baby Li with her daddy and went off to get Miss Mia a light pink, Hello Kitty ice cream (marshmallow flavored, of course! ;) ) I love how she looks here like eating ice cream is serious business.
And isn't her dress so adorable and so tres 60s? I thrifted it a while ago at the Goodwill on Fillmore in S.F. and just now it finally fits her.
It was funny to be in Prenzlauerberg because it is SO different than Kreuzberg, though both areas have definitely been experiencing a baby boom for a while. I'm
generalizing of course, but most mothers in Kreuzberg are largely left wing feminists passionate about saving the environment. They'd be happy to wear a burlap sack as long as it was made out of organic cotton. In other words, long on hippie, short on glamour. The mothers in Prenzlauerberg, however, wear wedge heels, 200 Euro jeans and designer, white lace blouses. It's hippie versus urban yuppie or, to put it in Bay Area terms, Berkeley versus the Marina. I really don't fit into either category but, for the day, it was nice to at least see something different.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vintage Childhood Take Two: Wolverine Tin

As I wrote in this post, I definitely love raising my two girls vintage (though I must admit the Bakelite viewfinder has since disappeared and the reels are scattered about the apartment, but I have absolute faith that it will resurface once I finally clean out their shelves and drawers....) I got jealous today when I discovered Wolverine tin toys from the 40s and 50s on etsy. If I lived in the U.S. Miss Mia and Baby Li would have their play area decked out in these pieces but, alas, I've never seen anything similar in Germany. The pieces are made of tin and most are a bit rusted, so I'd have to make sure the girls are up on their tetanus shots. Then again, what's a little lock jaw when you have such amazing toys to play with? ;)

Although there is a fair amount of Wolverine toys available on etsy, the ones below are my favorites.

I especially love this stove and refrigerator from the 1950s. The refrigerator has fake food printed on the inside of the door, people. Fake food. Available at Antique Grrl

A vintage Wolverine shooting gallery from the 40s? Forget the babies, I want this one for myself! Beat me too it, if you dare, by clicking here.

This one looks super familiar to me. Maybe my aunt had one as a child and I played with it at my grandma's house? Either way, it is most definitely bad ass. Available at Oopsee Daisies.

This one is pretty beat up, but it's also on sale for only 15 dollars at Estate Hound.

Happy vintage living everybody! :)

p.s. Does anyone know why blogger keeps on messing with my posts by making the letters larger and smaller? I also can't edit the difference out which is really beginning to annoy me. Blogger seems to have an evil mind of it's own. Grrr!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

At Least One Pair of Impractical Shoes A Day

I have not exactly been leading a high-heel life these past few years. Then again, I've always had problems with heels in Berlin. A lot of the streets and most of the sidewalks are made of uneven cobblestones and, believe you me, nothing shreds a good pair of heels faster. My feet have also gotten a bit wider over the years and, since heels tend to run narrow, this means a rather painful breaking in process. But I walk a lot (no car in Berlin) and I don't really like pain. These reasons combined with the fact that I've been spending so much time in sandboxes means that I just don't wear heels all that much. But I still love them. Every time I go thrifting I inevitably buy a pair or two even though I know they will probably just end up gathering dust in the back of my closet....

But my life has changed. Baby Li is now at pre-school five hours a day along with Miss Mia and I've been riding my bike all over town. Although high-heels still aren't the most ideal biking shoes, it's still much easier than walking around in them all day. So that's my goal: At least one pair of impractical shoes a day to celebrate my new found freedom. The shoes that I started the post with are actually pretty comfortable (for heels, that is..) I wore them the other day to Flughaften Tempelhof where I found a nice, secluded place off of hidden path with the lovely view above of the amber waves of grain (give me a break. I just remembered it's the 4th of July! ;) ) and the old radio tower.

I laid down my bike on its side, tossed my purse aside and pulled out a writing notebook along with Blancy, my Meisterstück Mont Blanc fountain pen.

The pen was actually a "wedding present" from my first husband (in " " because we didn't really have a wedding, just an elopement for green card purposes.....but that's another story that shall be told at another time...) because I wanted him to prove to me that he could give me something beautiful and expensive yet also luxurious and unnecessary. He did do it, but it totally went against his nature as, by nature he was very cheap. I think he literally broke out in hives afterwards....I couldn't use the pen for a few years after we split up, but now it seems enough time has passed that I feel ok about it. And there's nothing like writing with a fountain pen, let alone a Mont Blanc.

I also went over some of the songs Marcio and I are working on. We have a pretty good line up now of some jazz standards, some samba and bossa nova and some latin pieces. Now we just are on the look-out for other musicians as well as a low-key gig where we can get started. We'll see....For now I'm just so happy I have my bag, my bike, my heels and Tempelhof. ;)


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