Tag Archives: best-laid plans

Reporting live from the heart of the action

Check me out! Here I am, in possibly the most happening city in Europe, staying in and talking to the internet on a Saturday night.

But that’s okay. Once this deadline is out of the way, I’ll be able to work on my Berlin social life for real. You know, just in time to have a few drinks, catch the Withered Hand gig and then head to the airport for my next trip.

I went to the Turkish market yesterday, bought a parsley plant (this is a significant commitment) and what may or may not have been a variant of tulumbe. Somehow I was there for fifty minutes, even though I was by myself and shopping is not something that generally takes me long. It felt like I spent most of the time trying not to trip over hipsters’ toy dogs.

The hipster thing is really kind of fascinating. Edinburgh is too busy playing host to hippies and goths, I think, to cultivate a real hipster subculture (although perhaps I am naive; I tend not to club, so I could be missing out). As a result, it’s still a novelty to come face to face with the sort of fashion disasters previously seen only on LATFH.

Small victories

  • Identified vegetarian halloumi cheese. Or, if I’m wrong and it’s not actually vegetarian, it’s better that I just don’t know.
  • Found some sage after three days of effort. The word is Salbei.
  • Speaking of which, I appreciate that German makes it so obvious when a noun shows up. At least there’s that.
  • I bought skype credit for the first time and called my dad. It feels so weird to sit and talk into my laptop. I have taken a while to catch up with living in the future like everyone else does. Remember those joke e-mails people used to send around, that claimed that thanks to developments in technology your computer was about to take a picture of you?

Sandra booked to come visit next month! I’m touched that a friend has already gotten organised to do that, and super-excited because it will be fantastic to see her again. I’m looking forward to showing her around, even though I barely have a clue myself yet.

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Arrival

I arrived at my new home at half past midnight on Friday night, after spending several hours in a car with an international cast of strangers. I was glad to have visited the flat before, last November, so I knew my way round the neighbourhood; I’m not a fan of looking lost with a big rucksack at that time of night.

Expat report
Thus far, the majority of people I’ve met have been New Zealanders. It feels odd to meet a load of people in one go when I’m not exactly travelling, I’m starting somewhere new: which of them will I end up hanging out with? Everybody already insists that my claim that I’m just here for maybe five months means I’ll be here for good. Meanwhile, when they ask me where I’m from and I say Belfast, it’s like the last thirteen and a half years in Edinburgh are erased.

Linguistic notes
My German is embarrassing and technically I could get away with not bothering to fix that, but I don’t want to be that kind of expat; and yet – full disclosure – I’ve never been keen on the German language, having studied it for two and a half years long ago. So this is a prejudice I need to get over. I have a craving to learn Turkish instead – potentially of greater benefit in my immediate neighbourhood – but will not let myself get carried away. Oh and also I accidentally left my Polish textbooks in Amsterdam.

I was going to report more, but my head is still kind of spinning while I come to terms with the whole HOLY SHIT I LIVE IN BERLIN thing; whatever else I was going to say here has gone out the window. I did, however, acquire a boyfriend within a couple hours of arrival, so Berlin is going pretty well so far.

T- 6

So here are a few things I’m planning to do while I adjust to living in a much bigger city in which I know maybe half a dozen people:

  • Write stuff. I mean, I don’t want to get too specific about this, because maybe I’ll get sidetracked and write something quite different to the projects I currently have in mind. But as long as I’ve written a decent amount of decent material by the end of it, that’s fine. I’ll be working remotely in a tiny elite writers’ group with a good friend of mine, checking in with her every week or so.
  • Keep on learning Polish. I’m hoping that the fact I’ll have very few possessions with me will help me to actually devote time to it, rather than finding a gazillion other things to do first. I mean, to be perfectly honest, the Polish is sort of a lost cause, because it doesn’t matter that I know a fair amount of vocab: there are so many complicated grammar rules that I can’t string a sentence together without needing to be some kind of genius. Maybe if I study it for ten years. That’s what my teacher once said, anyway.
  • Read stuff. One of my 2010 resolutions is to read a book in Spanish: something I haven’t quite managed outside of class before, but I would have achieved this about ten years ago were I not prone to getting sidetracked and wandering off halfway through. Again, I’m hoping that a newfound minimalist lifestyle will help me out here. The book I’ve selected is Temporada de Caza Para el León Negro by Tryno Maldonado, which has the added bonus of being a slim volume and will therefore not take up too much space in my meagre luggage. I reckon I’ll take only a couple of other books with me, and use my bookmooch points and maybe this place when I get there.
  • Bake stuff. Yeah, I have this weird thing going on these days where half the time I’m a drunken train wreck and the other half I’m doing wholesome things like baking. I started on New Year’s Eve, because I had resolved to bake something before 2009 was over. Since then, I’ve made Anzac biscuits, cranberry slices, coconut-honey muffins, and most recently chocolate chip cookies. I am a goddamned culinary genius.
  • Travel. Of course. A trip to Warsaw is likely to happen at the end of April so I can attend Ste‘s gig (I also resolve to not get so hammered that I barely remember the show, as per last time). Also likely is a visit to Paris in May. Oh, and I already have a week in Ireland booked, and did I mention I’m visiting Brussels and Amsterdam on the way to Berlin? So. I’d also be interested in returning to Istanbul, though I haven’t looked into it yet. And I’m open to other options.

Would you believe that I mostly envision spending time by myself and being all quiet and domesticated? Yeah. I don’t know what’s up with that, but I suspect it’s just foreshadowing.