I Am Watching a Man Adjust His Zipper

10 Aug

Why? Because he is directly in front of me as I sit at the Aer LIngus lounge.  But I digress.

Today marks one month since I have written on this blog and a whole HELLUVA lot has happened.  Why didn’t I write earlier?  Several reasons.  Let us start at La Mama.  First of all, Liz Swados.  I cannot explain Liz Swados at all.  There is no point.  Her work is unlike anything I have every done and also eye opening and powerful.  We made sounds.  Lots of sounds.  That’s really the only way I can describe it.  And is crazy and lovely and challenging and taught me that my voice can make sounds I did not know it had.

Ok, ok.  I will TRY to explain.  Liz has been around the world, studying sounds people make.  She then brings those sounds back and teaches them to people.  What is the big deal? <—you might ask this.  This is the big deal: people all over the world use their vocal instrument in very different ways.  We (in the US) probably only use about 40% of what our voice can do, and so these workshops teach you where else your sound can come from.  We do African chants, Thai songs – everything.  That was the final La Mama week.

Then I spent a few days relaxing in Liguria.

Then I got to the final leg of my trip: three weeks in Dublin with NYU.  To say the work was intense is an understatement.  We did not start slow at all.  We worked with, and spoke to, artists in Ireland who were doing Community Engaged Theatre, which is NOT community theatre.  Not by a long shot.  Again, how to explain?  Let me start easy.  For the Abbey Theatre, some part of Community Engaged Theatre is going into youth groups of kids who maybe haven’t finished high school or who tend to be troublesome and using theatre and the games and activities as a way of opening up to one another and to the possibilities.  That is such a simple way of stating it, and is also doing the Abbey no justice with that statement, but that is about the best way of putting it I can think of.  If my colleagues read this, they may be able to phrase it better in the comments section.

Upstate Theatre uses community engaged theatre like this: Ship Street is a site specific work on an old street in Drogheda called Ship Street.  The writer combed through hundreds of pages of archived materials to create characters to live in Ship Street.  The actors then perform scenes in the street or in the empty houses for a paying audience.  The stories belong to the people of the community.  Also, another piece called “The Far Side” is a group of people, form Drogheda, who have been telling various stories of their lives to one facilitator for over a year.  He culls through the stories, finds the most compelling bits (but the stories are without sentimentality, which seems to be important in this work) and is now working on staging the stories he has chosen.  It looks like he will videotape the stories and create theatrical/video installation that will go on tour.

Louise Lowe works out of Dublin.  She is in a community and has committed herself to telling the story of the area for 100 years of it’s history.  Two years ago she did a piece on the street and in various locations about the area when it was a Red Light District (1912-1940ish, I guess).  Again, stories found in archives and libraries and by speaking to residents.  Then she did a piece about the same area when it became a place for “wayward women” who were shipped off to Catholic Institutions.  That story is far too complex for one line, but, again, she used the street, a church, older buildings that actually were a part of those times.  So her work uses actors, but takes inspiration directly FROM the community in which it is.  She also works with community people on their contribution.

What this has shown me is that Theatre is so much more than what we usually think of it as.  I knew that intellectually, but to see it done, actively created, has been enthralling.

These shows are not attended by 3 people.  This work is KNOWN and people see it.  Everyday people go to see this work.  In New York, things like this seem to get swallowed up by Broadway.  In LA, it gets swallowed up by film/tv.  I have no idea if they even do it in the middle of the country.  We need a Louise Lowe in the US.

The work was also quite taxing.  A few days were intensely physical and left us exhausted.  Then, when we began to collaborate to create our own pieces, the work became, sometimes, combative.  The process is the process, however, and it must be honored.

My brain is overfull.  I am still processing my German, much less my work in Spoleto and in Dublin/Belfast.

By the way, I can now say I have created work on the streets of Spoleto, Dublin and Belfast.  Pretty proud of that.

I also made good friends and new relationships.  I am happy to have people with whom I can create art.  This excites me and leaves me thinking of all I can do in the next few years.

Ok, Let’s Talk Specifics

10 Jul

We had half of yesterday off and all of today and half of Wednesday.  YAY!

Final projects.  So, Neil and Marco put us into pairs for directing, which is quite a challenge.  Not only do you have to figure out how to DIRECT together, you have to try to find a common vision for your text.  Neil wrote two very short pages and he and Marco gave us over 4 hours of rehearsal time.  I know that doesn’t sound like much, but since we’ve been putting pieces together with only 2 hours or less, it was a luxury.

My partner and I sat down and talked about our ideas, which were very different.  She proposed putting both into the scene.  Ultimately, I think the scene did not work with both in there, but it was a fascinating trial.  We then got two actors, Alberto and Amelia, who were simply fantastic.

Let me tell you what we had: we had a very simple 2 page text.  My idea was that Amelia had killed a man and needed Alberto to help her dump the body.  For Susan, she gave Alberto a form of OCD and he needed Amelia to clip his toenails.  (we also developed a backstory to make the two actions make sense).  What happens is that they arrive at an impasse.  First of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE our Italians actors.  I don’t love them just because they are uncommonly good looking, which they are, but they are totally committed and jumped into anything we had them do.  We have some people from Singapore here with a very different way of approaching text, and I know the work seems weird and our actors just do it.  BUT the great thing is that they don’t JUST do it – they push us and ask questions and bring their own ideas.  They wonder if something totally makes sense or not.  Alberto and Amelia were just fantastic.  They brought so much to the process.  Now Susan and I are very different directors.  She is actually a choreographer, so she plans every minute movement.  I am more text based, so I want the actors to really connect with the words on the page.  While our two visions didn’t quite work in the scene, our way of directing may have been beneficial because we both bring such different sensibilities that could compliment each other.  hard to say.

Anyway, I think people generally liked it, and even if they didn’t I learned a lot.  It was sad to say goodbye to Neil, Marco and the actors.  Luca kept saying it was like being at a press junket because we kept taking pictures of ourselves in various permutations with all of them.  Neil and Marco.  Neil and Marco and Luca.  Luca and Marco.  Luca and Sandra.  All the actors.  Just the ladies.  Just the people in our scene.  It was quite amusing.

Yesterday was our final presentation day with Stephan.  This was very VERY new for me.  We had, the day before, found a site in Spoleto and were going to create a site specific work, which we did.  During our rehearsal process, people came by and watched, so that even ended up being a performance unto itself.  We chose an ancient Roman drain, below street level, next to a church.  We created a carnival atmosphere and made it the “Carnival of Lost Treasures.”  One in our group was the Ringmaster/Narrator and one of our group was his assistant.  The other 3 of us were physicalizing the “lost treasure” – which was a huge list of objects (wallet, remote, jewels) and ideas (virginity, integrity, civilization).  I have to say, this was totally outside of my wheelhouse.  First of all, performing tableau style dance in public?  Not comfy for me.  On the street? Not comfy for me.  I didn’t come to Spoleto for the comfort, though, so I jumped right in, despite the fact that I was hugely self conscious.  In the end, I am glad I chose to participate this way.  It was actually really fun.  Explaining the piece in detail would be hard, so I won’t here, but eventually I will have video of all of my work.

Today we take a trip to Assisi and to a winery.  Then back home for a bit and then out to Spoleto for a show and dinner.  Whee!

The Oozing of Inspiration

7 Jul

La Mama Umbria – this session anyway – is completely inspiring.  I mean, truly.

Ok, today (so far – I still have Neil and Marco to go).  We rehearse our site inspired work in our groups.  I love my group.  The process has been collaborative, easy – I thought that getting too many directors in a room would be clash of the Type A personalities.  No.  Not here.  Not with my group anyway.  We truly shared one big brain.  We just sat (yesterday) in the cafe watching people go by, observing the Piazza.  We had chats, wrote down some ideas.  We noticed this parking spot, directly in front of us, that no one could get into.  Cars were all too big, but every car sat, waited, watched, evaluated.  Some even tried to park, then decided against it. We decided that would be our inspiration and came up with a piece the theme of which was “Hesitancy” and then decided to make sure we added the old man we all saw the day before.  Anyway, the end result was a piece we were all quite proud of.  It worked, quite well.  But then, seeing what the other groups came up with – these incredible ideas, all very different but very evocative…I sound like an idiot right now.  My brain is a bit baked from the sun and the long days, but the group here is amazing.

So, Stephan had us present today – yesterday we observed and planned – and the four pieces were quite excellent.  Tomorrow we have new groups and a new site and we will actually be doing site specific work.

Yesterday, with Neil and Marco, some of us directed Marco’s scene for them.  Again, what a great experience!  Each take was very different (well, I had a similar idea to someone). For the record, my initial idea of doing his scene with a Tango I chose not to execute, because I don’t know how to Tango and neither did the actors.  I jumped up and presented my directed piece, which I was pleased with, but took in a completely expected way.  There were some awesome surprises and I wish I had thought longer – but I am not really sure I would have come to a different conclusion.  I simply must think outside the box.  I think I do think outside, when I actually choose text and plays – my aesthetic is surprising, but I don’t think outside the box when executing something given to me.  I have a narrower focus than I want.  Stephan always says to not be afraid of the cliche, and Neil agrees, but I still feel like an idiot when I do.

I think I will find great collaborators here.  This place is very inspiring.

Day Three and My Brain is on Overload

6 Jul

So, I have now had two sessions with Stephan – not just me, of course, our group.  Stephan does Site Specific work, which I thought I knew all about until yesterday.  The only thing I did know was that Sleep No More is NOT site specific.  I knew that so there.

Site Specific work is, essentially, work that is entirely inspired by a specific site.  No decisions are made prior to finding a site for your work. That is how I finally understand it, anyway.  He has done a ton of work, all over the world.  It is so amazing to be here.  I think so linearly, and I am trying to branch out.  In hearing Stephan speak about what he does, I think of the way in which I work and I am very excited for the opportunity to branch out.  It is easier, in this setting, to think a little outside the box.  I have already proposed two pieces that are completely unlike me.  Again, yesterday was several hours of “Why are you here? What do you want to get?” which is good to hear.  When we finally got down to work, he sent us all out into Spoleto with very specific exercises for the beginnings of our site specific work.  I won’t bother with all of the details, mostly because it is part of his curriculum and I haven’t asked him if I can share it, but I will share other things.

First of all, I found the observation part of this exercise very easy.  It should be.  As an actor/director, I am, essentially, a professional observer. What was difficult was the end result “conceive of a scene to take place in a specific part of your Piazza.” As I sat in my Piazza, there were already much better scenes unfolding than I could have ever written, and today I expressed this to Stephan.  I told him that I had not written a scene as I was unsure of what to write and I did not want to steal an entire scene.  Stephan told me (you can learn something every day, can’t you?), he told me that as soon as I take that scene I see and I put it on the page, it is now a part of my performance and my fiction and that we always borrow from life.  As we drove to Spoleto this morning I began to think about my scene and finally had arrived at an acceptable conclusion by the time we were there.  My mini scene:

an old man stands in the middle of the square
he stands in the shadow of a large balloon, swaying the in the wind, but very careful to keep IN the shadow, but on the edge
After a minute of seeing him “dance,” that is, try to stay in the specific shadow, we begin to hear a rhythmic click
A young woman leans against a wall, making a click with her keys
the old man is joined then by other people form the square, all trying to stay to the perimeter of the shadow

It makes more sense if you know the context.  Anyway, I quite like it.

Yesterday we also had more of Neil and Marco.  Marco and I share a love of the Sarah Kane kind of art.

We heard more scenes from people, and then Neil and Marco presented their directed scenes of Neil’s short play.  The two takes were very interesting.  It was odd, critiquing well known directors and authors, but they both took it in stride.  Everyone here is just here to learn and so the generosity is abundant.  Anyway, once we had dissected it, a few of us (not me) got up and had 15 minutes to redirect the scene.  The different takes on it were totally fascinating.  Today we work on Marco’s piece!

The sun here is hot, but the experience is worth the intense heat.

La Mama Umbria – getting started!

5 Jul

The first day was amazing.  We took a tour of Spoleto with David and Steven in the morning where I bought far too much food stuffs to send home. They make this incredible topping here: artichoke, truffle and olive – YUM!  Also a Balsamic Glaze to pour on the Caprese Salads – heavenly.

Since we had the tour in the AM, we only had one workshop today which was with Neil and Marco.  They have been doing this interesting work together that they call “Author Directing Author.”  They became interested in each others work a few years ago and decided to write new pieces and then have each other direct the new piece.  As authors who normally direct their own work, it would allow them to work closely with each other, use the same actors and collaborate, as well as see the very intimate process that each other has.  They are bringing that same idea here to La Mama Umbria.  This workshop yesterday was a lot of “getting to know you” time.  We each spoke about what it was that we liked, where we wanted to go, how we got here.  The exercise itself was fascinating.  We went up to a table covered in pictures, and spent a few minutes, with a partner, discussing the postcard image we liked the most.  We chose 3 or 4 top images.  Then, we chose numbers and went to up the table when it was our turn to get a card.  Because some of us went later or last, often the images we wanted were not there.  Nonetheless, we had to choose an image as part of a team.  We sat with our image for a moment before we all went around in a circle and each spoke of what drew us to that image.  Once we had done that, we were more firmly embedded with our image – we were now rather attached to our image.  We were told to go off and spend 20 minutes and just write, in prose, how our image fits into a performance.  Is it the beginning, middle, end?  Is it just an idea?  A spark?  Is it literal?  After these instructions, just as we are headed out the door- Neil stops us and tells us to hand our images to the person on our left.  And then GO. We immediately have new images, we have just given up the one we have already begun forming a story about, and, in some cases where people did not get the image they wanted at all, it had been an uphill battle.  Suddenly we are to write about something totally new that we have not spent any time with in our head.  We all groaned and protested (ah, directors) but wandered away.

Needless to say, that was quite difficult.  I had a photo I loved and then ended up with one of the Flatiron building circa 1907 with carriages going past.  Here is what I came up with:

The image is part of a looping reel.  The reel starts with a man in a tophat getting into a carriage at the Apthorp building on the Upper West Side.  The reel follows the carriage down Broadway, past the Apthorp, down to Washington Square, and just as the carriage is about to get to the Triangle Shirtwaist Building, the film begins again.  This runs in a constant loop in a white box.  The audience is seated in the round, in a white space (black box, but white walls).  Surrounding them, projected onto all four walls is this reel, looping endlessly.  From the speakers come monologues (the actors are never onstage).  The text is the disembodied voices of the young girls who died in the March 25, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.  Sometimes they speak one by one, sometimes it is a cacophony.  Never do we see the actors.  The audience watches the reel of Max Blanck, owner of the factory, over and over and listens to the voices.  It’s not a long performance.

I was quite pleased with how that turned out, actually.  At first I was really annoyed, but suddenly I realized I could do this!

So what we will do moving forward is use actors Marco and Neil have brought us and direct them in a short script written by Neil and Marco.  You know who Neil is, this is Marco, and this is one of the actors, his brother Luca. The other actor and actresses last names I do not know.

I am very excited to continue this workshop!  Today we have that one and Stephan‘s site specific workshop.

How I Knew Jonathan Would Always Stick By Me

18 Jun

This is not a post related to Berlin.  Although, in some ways it is.  I will be gone for 11 weeks this summer, and Jonathan is patiently taking care of the cats at home.  He knew this kind of thing would happen – we had only been dating for 5 months and living together for 3.5 weeks when I packed up and left him the cats to go dig with my dad and brother in Israel.  That was for 5 weeks.  The second summer, it was for 6.5.  The summer after we got married I stayed home and this summer it is for 11.  I hope to do a Fulbright, and if Jonathan cannot find a way to work overseas, next year I will be gone for 10 months.  Lots of couples do it, my sister has done it, that doesn’t make it easy at all, but it’s what happens.

But here is the point, brought on by something else I have been thinking. In early April, the 4th or 5th, of the first year we were dating, so only about 3 full months after we had been dating, I received a crushing call.  (Background: In Florida I had been a youth minister for a while, and, therefore, had a ton of kids that I loved and who loved me and whom I thought of constantly). One of my kids had been beaten with a bat.  Crushed the back of his skull.  He was in a coma at the hospital and it was likely he would not survive.  I immediately burst into tears and the next few weeks/months, were me obsessing about brain damage, looking things up on the internet, calling my parents, sending emails.  Jonathan?  Right there the whole time.  I mean, I got obsessive, and it made me swear off having kids (if it was this tough when one wasn’t even my own…) I talked about it all the time.  Side note: said person is doing quite well.  The brain damage is still a little unknown, but he is in college, working and a functioning member of society.  It is one thing to say you love someone, it is another thing to know someone for 3.5 months and be drawn into this kind of drama.

About a year after that, well, a little more, we were engaged and a good friend/mentor was brutally murdered.  Jonathan?  Right there through every nightmare I would have (and I would have them nightly for over a year).  Right there when I would see something and it would trigger a cascade of tears.  Right there through every bit of the trial info I fed him.  Right here.  (That trail ended a few days ago and the man who murdered my friend switched his plea to guilty and received life with no chance of parole and no appeals). That happened in July of 2010, a few days after my birthday.

In October of that same year a friend of our family’s died, a good friend.  She actually managed to take her own life after a long battle with cancer and after St. Vincent’s closed and she no longer had access to easy healthcare in NYC. After someone lost her chart that said she couldn’t have Percocet, it made her actually crazy, and after the hospital gave it to her again, because they didn’t have all her records – because St. Vincent’s closed down. I went to her apartment with her brother and spent, no joke, every day for a week cleaning it out.  I cleaned out someone else’s apartment.  Someone not related to me.  I found her divorce papers, her personal statements – it was…emotionally breaking.  I came home every day exhausted and angry that her brother wasn’t doing much to help.  I then got most of her personal artwork and was tasked with distributing it to her friends, I suppose because I was the youngest person there.  I also gave the eulogy at her memorial, because her brother hadn’t planned anything, not really. I found out I was doing that about 10 minutes beforehand.  And Jonathan?  Sitting next to me in the front row.  Driving the car with her stuff in it.  Coming down to her place after work.  Understanding that between wedding planning and various deaths I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown – which I finally had.

This isn’t how I knew Jonathan was “The One” because a) that implies predestination and b) it implies not much work has to be put in and c) it implies our fate is not ours to make – see A.  But Jonathan is the dude who can put up with more tragedy in my life than most others probably can.  These things profoundly affect how I am at home, what I can and cannot do.  It started early on, and it probably won’t end (I grew up in a big church so I know a lot of people), but he is always here.  Never short on hugs and kisses.  Always quick to fold me in an embrace.  Doing his own research to help me understand (that was the first one – the possible brain damage or death, we weren’t sure at first). Anyway, don’t know what prompted this: probably because I have been sick here in Berlin and, Jonathan, as usual is doing what he can from afar.

I Never Thought I’d See: until I got to Berlin

12 Jun

I wish I could tell you I had done a ton of awesome stuff, but so far I mostly sit in bars on the river, drink wine and have absurdly cheap food with my new friends.

That isn’t entirely true.

Last Saturday, Casey and I went out to have a wander.  The first thing we did was go to a market at Kollwitzplatz.  It was lined with goodies, high end foodstuffs, and then we ran across a tapas buffet for 8 euro!  None of this is the interesting part, though.  So we went off to find another market, this one was at Treptower Art Centre. It was about 4000 sq meters of junk, junk junk.  One entire stall was remotes, another was old phones, some crappy ones, some nicer, from every decade, it seemed.  But the real gem was when we exited and rounded the corner and found this:

Yep, a pool in the Spree.  Here’s the info. Near Treptower, they have created a beach with a bar and a pool, right in the Spree.  The awesome thing is that they do it in winter, and they close it off like this:

Both Casey and I lamented that we had not brought along bathing suit to Berlin.  After all, who thinks we’ll find a pool in the city?  The rest of the day was more wandering, although around the corner from the pool we wandered into a boat bar where people looked like they’d been there since Thursday night.  Everyone was glassy eyed and obviously coked out of their gourd.  We wandered in and…right back out.

Sunday was pretty relaxed, until I ran across this place:

There was nothing there when I was there, just a crapton of graffiti – empty warehouses and graffiti.  Also, a mud brick oven.  At night, late at night, I think it becomes several bars and clubs.  Dirty bars and clubs.  Graffiti is a huge thing in Berlin.  Apparently, Berlin is some sort of UNESCO Design capital, so they tolerate graffiti more than most places and it seems as if Graffiti is much more…interesting than in NYC.  Anyway, here are a few crappy shots from my camera phone of the park:

Totally awesome and really weird.  This week I have tickets to see the ballet and Measure for Measure at the schaubuehne theatre.  Should be fascinating!

My First German Play…in German.

5 Jun

This weekend was pretty good.  A lot of rain.  I went with my colleague, Alex, to two museums.  One was the GEMÄLDEGALERIE and the other was the Neue National Gallery.  There are three museums here with “Neue” in their name.  The museums are pretty standard as far as museums go.  Old paintings, new paintings.  Weird religious iconography, weird modern art. Alex and I then met up with Casey and Paolo to go have drinks and dinner, which ended up being Mexican food.  It was really excellent!  Ok, so that day was a day.  The next day was better.

I got up and went to Potsdamer Platz where they have sections of the wall.  There is also a guy there who will stamp your passport with East German Stamps, or you can get a paper visa.  I am still deciding how I feel about that.  I think it is a little crass, but someone must like it.  Then Casey and I met up to hit this awesome flea market at Mauerpark.  The park is huge and there is a ton of awesome stuff, from junk tables to genuine jewelry to antique cameras.  We also saw a chair with a pot in it for, well, toilet use.  We really wanted to buy it.  That night we went and saw this play: JEDER STIRBT FÜR SICH ALLEIN, aka Everyone Dies Alone.  It is an interesting story, well acted, well directed and set, but poorly written. It was like this was the first draft.  It was only 2 hours with no intermission, but that was about 1 hour too long.  There were subplots that were extraneous, and it was preachy.  I love German theatre and I have read a lot of modern German stuff – this was not like anything I have read, nor anything I have liked.  The main idea was, “We all stood by and let the Nazi’s do their thing.  We were cowards.” Ok, fine, true.  But STOP TELLING US.  We got it the first four times.  Stop beating it into our heads.  There also was little danger written into the lives of the main two characters, so that’s where I think the subplots came from.  Too many.  And a weird parody of Hitler that was too safe – not far enough in terms of parody, but they were too afraid of putting a real-ish Hitler onstage.  I can say that the commitment of the actors was amazing.  I have never seen a group of people so willing to just throw their bodies around.  Literally.  The stage was impressive – a HIGH rake, very high, with little set dressing. Industrial.  Excellent design.  Also, the supertitles died about half the time.  So that sucked.  The opening was pretty excellent, though.  It excited me for the rest of the play.  Sadly, it did not live up to the first 5 minutes.

Today I also got my final grade.  A “B” – which should not make me mad, but it does.  I saw this professor three times to gauge my work, we wrote at least 6 small papers before spring break.  We wrote 11 (in my case, 13) small papers in total before the end of the semester and he never evaluated a SINGLE ONE.  We got no feedback, and, again, even though I saw him IN PERSON 3 times after class (and sometimes spoke for almost an hour) and wrote him numerous times, I never had any indication I was going to do mediocre.  Actually, that is not entirely true.  I knew, based on our conversations, that this was an uphill battle for me, but since I had killed myself writing and researching for this class, I thought it would count for something.  It didn’t.  At the end of the day, he theorized about theatre and I practiced it, and we just never saw eye to eye.  Although I met him far more than halfway on many things.  Oh well.  Jerk.

Today we begin lesson 2 in German class.  Lesson 1 is over.  Wish me luck!

When They Say Intensive, They Are Not Kidding

1 Jun

Not that I figured they were – but HOLY CRAP.  4.5 hours of language learning per day only in German. My brain hurts so much.  SO MUCH.  To top it off, the woman from Japan and the dude from Mexico and the chick from the Ukraine don’t speak any English – so communication with them is in our terrible German.  So we can only really ask each other names/places and age.

I sit next to a guy who has the advantage, because he is already bi-lingual.  Possibly tri-lingual.  I only feel better about myself because my pronunciation is better than his.  He is from Italy and doesn’t make the guttural R.  Also, oddly, he is a friend of a friend.  The odds on that are super slim, trust me.

Let’s see – I basically go every day to the Insitut, have my ass handed to me, come home, study and pass out.  I did meet a woman from NYC who teaches at McCallister.  She is a prof in Lit but really teaches performance art.  We plan to see some plays together.

Right now, life is pretty mundane.  I am getting used to Berlin, which is quickly becoming my favorite European city.  It is tied with Paris for now.  London would have to be a distant fifth (only because the Brits are so fun – I really have little affinity for London).

I love the grocery stores here.  The variety is intense!  And CHEAP!  Holy cow, we could live like kings here.  On our current salaries.  Even with the dollar being weaker than the Euro.


Well That Was a Sleepless Night

30 May

I got 2 hours of sleep on the plane ride.  Came to my host house, took a shower, dressed, went to the Goethe Insitut to register, came back and CRASHED.  For 4 hours.  Woke up at 7, watched a French movie dubbed over in German – so I sure as shit did not understand it at all – went back to bed at 10 and woke up at 3:30am.  Woke up.  Just damn woke up.  I think I finally fell back asleep around 5am.  It gets bright EARLY here.  I think the sun was rising around 5am.  Just like at the dig.

Anyway, my host person/mother/lady is this adorable Finnish woman who is married and has been here for 40 years.  I have yet to figure out why her husband lives in another apartment a few blocks away, but I SUSPECT…she really misses having her kids here.  She hosts students every day of the year.  She has fed me cheesecake – which I am not supposed to have, but politely ate half.  She made me coffee, which I thought I told her I don’t drink…but look who drinks coffee now!  She made a whole pot.  A WHOLE POT. Dear lord.  She is super sweet, just so nice and wonderful.  I think she is an artist.  She went to a studio this morning, and she has a ton of paintings everywhere, so that’s my conclusion.  She does have kids and grandkids.

She lives in this gorgeous old apartment building.  It must have been resurfaced sometime in the 60s (hopefully my architect friends will tell me), but retains some details which have to be turn of the century.  She seems not to know.  I will post pictures here and hope Dave or Fed or anyone else will read this and let me know.

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