So I figured I'd give some bloggish type posts to chronicle some Berlin happenings and such. Hopefully there will be momentous things to write about, but I'm sure mostly it will just be random musings about random things, but I will do my best to keep them interesting and entertaining. On that note here are some non-momentous and hopefully interestingly entertaining tidbits.
Despite the fact that my body thinks it's 5am I'm doing surprisingly well on my first day. After a good night of Ambien induced sleep the catatonic state I was in last night after 20 hours of travel has abated a bit. I can feel it picking around at the edges of my head though, it's going to be an interesting couple of days. As my friend Andrew put it the other day (and he was paraphrasing an author who's name I don't remember, so if you're reading this Andrew be sure to post it) "jet lag is your soul catching up with your body". Mine is certainly somewhere over Greenland at the moment I think, I can feel the chill and the irony. I feel like a nap but I know that would be a terrible error on my part that I will regret for days. So I will push through, perhaps down some jet lag remedy tonight (aka beer) and then visit with Dr. Ambien again tonight.
Berlin is amazing. I thought so the first time I was here in 2007 and I think so now. I just got back from a run, which is something I hope to do more often as it's quite flat here and there are many great parks to run in (more on those later). As any runner will tell you (and yes I'm counting myself as a "runner" since, duh, I just went running) lopping along through a new city is a fantastic way to get to know it, from a literal street level. You run past places that look interesting, people who look interesting and who look interestingly at you, and you can choose a different direction for something new or the same direction for some more depth of experience. Today I chose the latter, running through the neighborhood and park near my friend Thorsten's flat in Wedding, northwest of the center of Berlin.
FIrst let me say something about European cities. While Americans may lament the lack of 5 bedroomed, 3 car garaged, 5.2 acre front yarded, gated communitied living accomodations, European cities have done something right; they have fantastic parks and glorious plazas. Open spaces are treasured and public here, instead of coveted and fenced off, or developed. The park I went running in is called Volkspark Rehberge, you can visit it herethough the pictures truly do not do it justice. FIrst of all it's big. I've been running in it three times now, once today and twice back in July, on long runs, and I haven't seen it all. Try doing that in Cal Anderson Park, very lovely though it is. At one point I was standing near a fountain on a small wooded hill at the center of the park, looking down in awe at a long sloped meadow, lined on either side by massive oaks and lindens and thought "this would look GREAT with condos lining that meadow!!" Except what I really thought was "In the US there'd be condos lining that meadow, and not only would many people think that was great, most people would never know what they were missing." Trust me, you're missing out, that meadow was breathtaking, this park is amazing, and it's just one of many here all over the city.
I went running today (remember, I'm a runner) in my black footy shoes. For those that don't know what I'm talking about you can go here for a look, and to buy a pair, which I highly recommend. Within blocks I ran past a group of pre-teens standing in a cluster looking like they needed something to do. These shoes are eye magnets, it's hilarious, and both the very young and the very old have NO problem staring. The entire group of them watched me run by, eyes glued to my feet the entire time, as if these shoes were a 10 car pile up on the freeway with flashing ambulance lights and blooded limbs hanging from shattered windows. A group of runners on the other side of the street at a stop light were within moments all pointing and talking about my feet. I was amazed at how quickly they noticed them actually. Have you ever notice that if you have sunglasses on people will stare at you, talk about you, and generally act as though you're blind to their every movement and lascivious glance? Yes well I had sunglasses on and saw everything they were saying, which I at least found quite amusing. Now I know you're all thinking "why the hell wear those hideous things?! people ACROSS THE WORLD think they look ridiculous, point, laugh, and talk about you!!" and you're right, they do think they look ridiculous, even here. AND THEY LOVE THEM. Everywhere I go people f%*king love them. Those kids? awe on their faces. My fellow runners? they all wanted them. I know this because the guy that first pointed them out did the "oh my god look it's those shoes I've read about and like totally want" speech to his friends (that look knows no language barriers) and his one friend did the "wow, I've never seen those, I totally want a pair" nod, and the one female of the group did the "but what about my arch support???" hand gesture (yes, that's right, she did it and it was exceedingly obvious what she was talking about, even from 30 feet away in German hand gestures), but you could see on her face that she NEEDED a pair by the time she ran by. Straight men, I think you know that look, if you know what I mean. Even I know that look and it really could not interest me less, and I was quite happy she was looking at my feet when she made it. So, the long and the short of it, these shoes are glorious, even in Germany. Everyone buy a pair and they won't look so weird any more.
So it's about 15:00 here, or to all you silly Americans with your silly 12 hour clocks that's 3pm. Silly Americans with your redundant, repetitive and ultimately confusing time system... there are 24 HOURS IN EVERY DAY, why do you insist on pretending there are only 12, hmm? I mean really, how do you even function? Here in Deutschland our clocks show you ALL the hours in the day (except the round ones which still have only 12 but those are one of the many topics we DO NOT DISCUSS!!), and your "a.m./p.m." thing confuses us terribly. How do you know if when I say "I will meet you for drinks at 6" I am meaning 6am or 6pm?? Hmm??? This confuses the mind und should be abolished. "Ve vill drink at 18:00!!" Dat is how you do it!! Silly Americans....
And so the adventure begins with runs through parks, shoes with toes, culturally insensitive ribbing, and a whole hell of a lot of fun. There will almost certainly be more to follow, so check back from time to time and I'll let you know how it's all working out. Until then keep your beer warm, your final consonants hard, and your schadenfreude at the tip of your sharpened tongue.