Category Archives: Rowing

The starting line

jillbecky_2015-mn003-286-mediumTwo years to the day after we flew to Berlin for a family sabbatical, I separated from my husband. It wasn’t Berlin’s fault. And maybe it wasn’t M’s either. But things were put into motion during that yearlong hiatus from our so-called real life that a separation had shifted imperceptibly from the category of impossible to damn near inevitable. Continue reading

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Mistaken identity

jjI know you won’t believe me when I tell you I was once mistaken for a movie star. Ridiculous of course, but I tell you, it happened.

I was seated at a diner somewhere near Bemidji, drinking coffee with—was it M? or an old boyfriend?—waiting for eggs and toast, when the waitress came to warm our coffee and said,

“I’m sorry to bother you, but—” and here she looked around shyly, “aren’t you Sandra Bullock?”

Continue reading

Someone misses us now

Dietmar and I at the Müggelsee regatta

Dietmar and I at the Müggelsee regatta

The tables have been turned. The blogger has been blogged about—in the Wannsee rowing club newsletter, by one of her own characters, no less. After dropping his name all year in my blog, club organizer Dietmar has done the same and written an article about “a certain American rower” who kept a blog.

I’ve been outed; the people I wrote about in Berlin are becoming aware that during those months I rowed with them, I was soaking it all in, carrying home stories of how life is from their shores. Continue reading

Wilting

orhcidMy life seems to ooze out in all directions here in St. Paul; Berlin contained us, lifted us up out of our natural habitat like a sieve, straining out all possessions and people, plunking our fivesome in an alien place that looked familiar but wasn’t quite. It was as if we’d been scooped up from the ocean and released in a kid’s dug-out pool of seawater on the beach. We swam around there for a while with wide eyes so we could report back to our friends in the big ocean what life in the pool was like, knowing, always, that the arrangement was temporary.

Coming home is like the tide came in and swept us back up into the big churning sea. The ocean is far too vast to describe; it’s too familiar, it’s all consuming, and the long and short of it is I can’t figure out how to blog in this environment. How to write in this environment, I should say, because some people might insinuate that blogging is not really writing, but that was months ago, and I think I’m over it now. Continue reading

Both sides now

Image

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

The boys in the other boat

stadium

The main Olympic stadium in the west of Berlin. The partial roof was added in recent years as part of renovations. In this image you can see the cauldron; Berlin held the first Olympic torch relay. (Click on any photo to enlarge).

A few months ago my family and I toured the 1936 Olympic Stadium, restored in recent years to its original condition. Jesse Owens earned his glory here, perhaps the most famous athlete to emerge from those Olympics.

The stadium is quintessential Nazi architecture, they say; it’s an imposing structure of concrete and marble, built to impress the world. The stadium lies in far western Berlin, just north of the Grunewald Forest. Many of the sports events of 1936 took place in this location, but not all. Continue reading