Monthly Archives: July 2014

Found the silver lining

metrotransitAfter last Sunday’s melodrama and teeth gnashing about the end of our sabbatical year, the end of my freedom, the end of life as I know it, Monday morning came without fanfare, and I was reminded yet again that life goes on.

My knees still hurt so I didn’t bike in for my first day in the office as originally planned, but that turned out to be quite okay, maybe a whole lot better than okay, if you really want to know.

I took the bus to work, which is about the most unsexy thing you can possibly do in this town. I don’t know why that is, exactly, but it’s just not a choice most middle-class residents make around here; the unspoken understanding is that it’s what you take when you have no other choice. And actually, at that moment, that’s where things stood: our car was en route from Pittsburgh to Chicago, and my knees were bruised and sore and resistant to cycling. I was taking a bus because it looked darn attractive, given the options. Continue reading

Have a scotch

river-road-bike-paths-diff_mainI’ll skip the beginning, though that was undoubtedly the best part of Sunday—a doubles row with a very able partner, then breakfast with a friend at Turtle Bread, a place I’d missed all year—to explain how it was that the Berlin year, and the time I’d begun to call “Berlin Plus,” came to a grinding halt. Continue reading

Twilight zone shopping trip

20070516_kowalski_market_2What is happening to me? I just went to the grocery store I’ve gone to for years, and I left bewildered. I wonder if this is how visiting Germans feel.

It started when I was biking down my street towards Kowalski’s, and I passed a young girl, maybe 10 years old, jogging on the sidewalk towards me. I glanced at her but didn’t recognize her, so I looked away, but she lifted her hand and waved to me and gave me a big smile. “Whose kid is that?” I thought to myself, but realized I did not know her at all; she was just being friendly. I think I returned the wave from my bike but resisted it; didn’t your mother teach you not to engage strangers?, I wondered. She was overly friendly, perhaps, but then I’ve come to expect that based on my recent dog walks in the neighborhood—my god, we’re a smiley people! Smiling at perfect strangers, exchanging “Good morning!” greetings as if we’d been friends for years, or making offhand comments as we pass, often to the effect of “What a beautiful dog!” or “Gorgeous day, isn’t it?” Continue reading

Home is

Big+Cherry+Pie+A+La+Mode+by+Mary+Ellen+JohnsonHome is walking off the plane and seeing an attendant with a wheelchair waiting for a passenger and seeing that she is smiling at you and everyone around you for no reason except that she is American and that’s what Americans do when they see human faces, they smile like they know you, and it’s such a big smile you want to laugh at the outrageousness of it but you try not to because you think if you do you might cry instead.

Home is Gita waiting at the curb with her Prius full of empty strawberry crates she used to make hundreds of popsicles for her new business earlier that week and even though the car looks full to the gills she fits you and your daughter and your three suitcases and doesn’t even have to leave the crates on the sidewalk even though she said would if she had to. Continue reading

Both sides now


The red line is the border between Berlin and Brandenberg; it also marks the location of the former Berlin Wall and borders in the water as well. Due to West Berlin being in the middle of East Germany, former West Berlin is the east side of this map; to the west of it is former East Germany.

Having talked with Anne about making a visit to Glienicke Brücke since before the Unity Day race last October, we finally managed to do so last Thursday. We made a tour of it together, sprinkling in a few other sites from that portion of the Wannsee along the way. I discovered, not surprisingly, that I’ve already been enjoying the best view of the duo-toned bridge for months from the optimal vantage point: the water. Continue reading