Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting settled home

August 26
Unusual as it is I caught a cold after coming back but still keep working. The house is back in order and the daily routine sets in. I miss already not walking so much although my feet are still recovering for average of 8 miles a day while in Germany.
My friend Annette in Berlin is facing a life threatening operation on Monday, August 31 and who ever reads this please send all the positive energy you have to her next Monday.

Last entry from Potsdam - returning home....

Thursday, August 20, 2009
I must have written in between but don’t even remember. But I thought I’d use the time before boarding in London back home to California. How easy it comes to me to call California home now. I went to the homeland with the intent to find an alternative home in a few years. We ex-pats certainly know that we don’t belong anywhere really -not in our chosen land nor in our original homeland. I think I wanted to find out more about my kind of belonging or where I would like to live part time once Daniel is settled and I am ready for my golden years. The truth is that no clarity has come to me right now but I do have to say that 8 weeks of travel make you aware of many things. For the first time I actually managed to take time to learn about German history, talk to local people from the former DDR are, read several books written by political prisoners to learn their suffering. Went to cities and towns that my American friends can only imagine what they look like. Architecture and buildings from 1173 that are original, Can you imagine looking at a stone that is so old. I also feel I finally understand the different architectural styles in churches, castles, mansions etc. How come they look all so different, who ordered them etc. Well – I think I finally can explain some of it. Just ask if you are interested J don’t want to push my new understanding on anyone.

Here a more practical update. After Daniel left and about 10 days alone in Potsdam my cousin came and we spent some good time together, sight seeing, cruising on the river – just lovely. Then I wasn my own and felt a crisis coming: alone, no exact plan. So I started working and that was not good for me. I felt pulled in and after receiving some good advice from Chi Ping I withdrew and just check for important stuff.c
I completely realized that I was falling into a unknown realm and thanks to my intuition I had brought the book by Eckhard Tolle “A New Earth” and started again reading about awareness, humanity etc. This – together with the wise words from Chi Ping – I was able to relax again and actually became aware of something about me that I had forgotten. What an awakening. Again – you can ask and I will tell but it is pretty personal.

After I woke up I spent days on the Heiliger See, swimming, reading a lot, watching naked people during the day and reading more in the evening after another stroll though town.
The rock Elebnisnacht in Potsdam was much fun but more entertainment came:
A friend in Munich who is Daniel’s roommates mom and is called Guadalupe from Bolivia introduced me to a business woman in Berlin. I call her Doris and it was one of these connections you have with few people. I remember having a similar experience with Louie DeBlanc in Eselan years ago and we are still friends. Anyhow, Doris is a true Berliner lady (in the true sense of natural elegance), smart, fun and full of energy. She showed me some treasures of the hidden Berlin terretories, near the former Mauer, on the river Spree, explained the different architecures, layouts of neighborhoods called “Kiez”, how Kreuzberg turned into little Instanbul with all the Turkish immigrnts and yet it becames kind of the hot spot for prominent film makers, musicions etc. Absolutely fascinating. Her consulting firm works with jobless people, training them etc. Very complex projects. We hit it off so well that she rearranged her schedule and I went to Berlin again and we spent another long evening with even more interesting sights. It was August 13 and those who remember 1961 it was the errection of the Wall. She took me to a neighborhood right where the former Wall was and we saw pictures taken by the Volkspolizei, the East German police. So they documented very well the flights of their own people, the watch towers, barbed wires. Unbelievable images.Then she took me to a beach on the river Spress. They put about 500 yards full of beach chairs, beach sand from Baltic right on the river Spree where they left a piece of the original wall still. So you sit there in the beach chair, touch the 3.5 m high wall and drink gin and tonic. In the middle of the river was the border and on the other side were the sharp shooters aiming at their own people. Again – to talk about this with a local person was very special.

I very much hope Doris will visit California – I think I peaked her interest. Maybe next year. She is very busy, a quite prominent person as I found out, but this kind of woman I would like to have in my life and introduce to my good friends in California and so give her the “California experience.

Not enough of this high light: the next one was the annual Schloessernacht in Potsdam.
This night the entire park Sans Soucis is turned into an ocean of elegant lights and each statue, pond, flowers, the many castle buildings are lit so perfectly. Then there are about 50 artists throughout the park. Many quartets playing Bach, Haendel, Mozart etc. but also ballet, little theaters and individual flutists . It was the perfect night, warm, dry and just wonderful. I was with Annette and her husband and so we wandered at least 10 miles that night, sat, drank wine, ate here and there and listened to great music. Transport was a bit of an issue and took long to get home. I think the organizers didn’t want to deal with people to get home. That part was very strange but the event was just perfect.
The finale was fireworks that would have your heart jump. Classical music with the most amazing display. The best firework I have ever seen.

After a few more days of TLC in Luebeck with my cousin, a wonderful dip in the Ratzeburger See and the Baltic, a day trip with Annette’s mom to Travemuende and a great trip back I am in my own house again.
The family Chen took good care of Nina and I am very grateful to my house mate Hamid and my neighbors, the Sciortino’s, to help with Nina’s care and give me the comfort that someone cares.

Paula picked me up and my first desire was a large bowl of pho soup in Mountain View.
Now parties and re-connecting with you guys will be fun.

Friday, August 14, 2009

from Potsdam August 14, 2009

The last week has arrived and I am actually ready to go home. Realizing home is home is a good thing. Had a few days doing nothing but then picked myself up. Reading a lot, watching TV - lot of political shows. the Talk Shows here are much more intense than in the US. Mostly women hosts don't let politicians get away with shit.
I haven't met too many people, one woman from Munich turned out to be unbarable. We went on an excursion together to Werder by boat but she talked non-stop to me and every person nearby. So I decided she is not a match for me.
Instead I went again to Berlin to see Dr. Doris Habermann, a business owner and a VERY interesting lady. Runs a big consulting firm, was a single mother, move her office from West to East Berlin, lots of insights politically etc. Time with her just flew by and I barely caught the last train. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Berlin Wall August 13, 1961. She took me to a photo exhibit in Kreuzberg where they showed pictures taken from the Eastern side by the East German Army. In the speeches there was nothing bad about that time, no comment "this shouldn't have happened or we need to prevent" - I commented this to Doris and she said, they wouldn't say stuff like that because 80% around us are former Stasi people who are still in city government roles and they would use this against you. Very interesting and scary.

I also have to say that I have learned so much about German history and it is hard to say but there was no difference between the Nazi political scene and interogation mechanisms and then the DDR, those Nazis who didn't make it to South America ended up at the Stasi or commanders in the Volksarmee and Volkspolizei...
Doris took me to a place called "Oststrand" , a 300 yard long sandy beach (sand brought from the Baltic beaches) right on a remaining part of the wall and righ on the river Spree. Strange feeling to sit right beneath this 3.5 m high monster, having a drink and watching people and little boats pass by where after 1961 people trying to escape were shot point blank by sharp shooters.

The neighborhoods in former East Berlin are vibrant and people are out and about well after midnight - even during the week. This is very different to Potsdam, of course....
My final days have arrived and today I see my niece and her little girls for ice creat and some great auntie time, tomorrow is Schloessernacht one of the social and cultural high lights of the year. I will go with my friend Anette. Just talked to her and she was very sad. They had to put their cat down. I can understand her sadness as a cat owner. She also is facing her very difficult own medical risk operation.
On Sunday i will go back to Luebeck for a few days and then back home.
See you all very soon.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

from potsdam

Now I am indeed on my own. Last visitors are gone and suddently I find myself on my own, having to decide what to do, eat, where to go to etc. Oh my - the guilt trip caught up and I started working again. It feels safe, I have to say and I get totally dragged in. So today I am workng on the Summit2010 which is important. But I also enjoy staying in touch with Patti, jenny, chi ping and Paula and whoever writes to me and seems to miss me. I do feel that I will be ready to come home in 2.5 weeks.

But I can report that a great event is coming up on the 15th. It is called "Schloessernacht" and all castle's, estates around the big Schloss Sans Souci will be iluminated and there will be much music, mostly classical all around the park. So I managed to get a ticket and hopefully will go with Anette and her husband. If not then music events I can do well on my own
and enjoy myself.
Another thing I am working on is on German history which is certainly present here. I went to a memorial site for political prisoners here in Potsdam which was an experience that still stays with me. Very scary. Now I am reading a book called "Krokodil im Nacken" which gives a deep account of life in the former DDR, East Germany right after 1945 through 1989. I think many people should read books like that to truly appreciate freedom and a justice system even with faults. The random arrests, imprisonments, scare tactics are unbelievable. But I am sure the Nazi's did the same and so do many other countries. but coming so close is different.

all for now

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Potsdam August 1, 2009

What have I done this last week? Hanging out with myself, wandering the streets, going to sites, spending time to have time. It is still weird for me and ever so often the nagging voice in my head is scolding me for not working on Europress, and the 2010 summit, future of Globalpress etc. The nagger is probably right and I have to listen to him next week and get my shit together. But it is hard because I begin to like not to have every minute planned and going for a swim in one of the beautiful lakes at the spur of a moment.
The last week I spent exploring the more recent dark history of Potsdam. I spent several our in a jail memorial where beginning 1933 political prisoners oposing Hitler were held, then after 1945 the East German Stasi used it until 1989. Just so many sad stories and I was the only visitor. it is not a place Potsdam promotes in its tourist information. They'd rather have you go to the parks, estates and castles. I spent some good time with my friend Anette who also joined e for the big street party last Saturday. She is not entirely well so she left early while I enjoyed the many bands until 1 in the morning. Great fun!
Now Anette is travelling the Dneper river and won't be back for a while. My last visiors left today. Anke and Rudi, my cousin from Luebeck stayed 2 days and it was a lovely visit. Highlight was a night cruise on the river Havel with a tiny, historic, restored little boot including dinner. only 30 people enjoyed silently slipping through small green canals to reach a larger river , then a small lake, then the biggest lake called the Wannsee to enter yet another river arm. This all through the bright sun, twilight and then darkness with the moon rising. Very pretty indeed.

The weather is a constgant topic here but now can really say that it has been wonderful and I enjoy every minute outside. Tomorrow I might just take a book and sit in Schloss Sans Souci and read or watch people.

Not much contact with Daniel these days. He is probably emerged in his own life.

Friday, July 24, 2009

update July 24

Friday, July 24, 2009
It has been a while but here is another report from Germany. The few days on my own in Potsdam went by fast and in great anticipation Daniel finally arrived in Berlin where I picked him up by car. I was hesitant to drive to the airport but conquered this as well and finally could hug my son again. We had a great time with a family pow-wow meeting up with my niece, nephew (the chef) and getting to know my great-nieces. Such charming kids – that they just put a smile on all our faces all the time.
Then Daniel and I were lucky that another friend let us stay at her apartment – yet on another charming lake – before we set off for Berlin, Dresden, Wittenberg – the Lutherstadt and ultimately Munich. If you decide to explore the former East Germany states of Saxonia, Dresden is a must. It is so historic you feel like in Florence.
The famous Semper Opera offers tours and we were fortunate to sit in a rehearsal of Porgy & Bess by the New York Harlem Theater company. They are one of the greatest successes here in Germany. The Dresdner Zwinger is the one of the famous gallery’s – all 17th, 18th, 19th century art. Amazing how this stuff survived all the political changes over the hundreds of years.
In Munich we took a walking city tour and Daniel went to see the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial on his own.
The days with Daniel were too few but at least I enjoyed every minute with him. Flash backs included when I tucked him in the car seat and drove him all over the autobahn. And now: he is the driver, with such ease and comfort. I loved it.
We parted in Munich and he took the train to Frankfurt to return to LA while I drove the 550 km back to Potsdam.
Now I am in the second apartment, located right in the middle of town in a fully restored “Hollaender Haus”. It is basically the top floor of a private home. You go out of the door and there are little shops, restaurants, cafĂ©’s and shopping. My little place on the lake the one with the naked people) is only 20 minutes walk and I went yesterday, catching a dry spot in the day.
This is what is really not so fun: Maybe you even heard in the US about the strange summer her. Showers, thunderstorms, hail, huge down poor’s day after day. Then in between just wonderful hours of sunshine. People are pretty frustrated and for the tourists it is not fun either.
But – I am finally online and can work during the rain and hope it will get better.

Tomorrow is the big day for Potsdam. It is called “Erlebnisnacht” – the entire town is closed down for an music, art and food festival. Hopefully the weather will settle down by then.

Monday, July 6, 2009

3 Entries from Germany

Monday, July 06, 2009

After much TLC from my cousin Anke and her husband I am now in Potsdam. I am finding my way around walking over 5 miles a day, exploring the town of 140.000.
After a ballet show – somewhat amateurish but fun I wandered into town, ending in a buzzing place under the Nauener Tor. Within minutes 2 guys of around 30 (and handsome) struck up a conversation that lasted until 1:30 am in the morning. They were locals and talked very openly about attitudes in the DDR vs. GDR, their dreams, careers,
Their memories of the time before the wall feel (when both were 11) What an interesting evening.
Then I walked home by myself, feeling safe all around because many people on their bikes zipping by.
It is a very different feel. So far my favorite lake is the Heiliger See (not for its name) but for its little grassy beach spot. People are naked or in bikini’s (not me). The view is spectacular across the lake showing off castles, towers, churches and parks and the water is just perfect for swimming.

Friday, June 26
Trip to Bundesgartenaustellung in Schwerin with Irmchen Lootz
My 80=year old, chick, stylish and so upbeat friend with her bright red woollen coat allowed me to push her in a wheel chair through the Schloss Park in Schwerin. The old castle restored to its glory after the East German Government neglected this historic jewel.
The placement of the federal garden show in East Germany is another attempt to attract visitors there. The gardens, flowers, herb and vegetable gardens were nice but not spectacular. But the Schlosspark is worth any minute. The beautiful old trees, the lawns, statues and water ways – just a delight for the eye and spirit.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Luebeck is one of the most historic cities in Germany, founded in 1143 and prosperous throughout centuries. Thomas Mann, the famous novelist and author of the Buddenbrooks was born here.
As I visit more often I noticed the focus on traditions, valued by young and old. The city of Luebeck celebrated today the 161 anniversity of a community party. Six years ago, young people came up with the idea to have an opening celebration of this big Volksfest In the famous Marienkirche, the center part of town. It took from 1260 till 1350 to build this magnificent gothic church. Bombed in March 1942
the church was much destroyed and the fallen church bells are still sitting as a memorial of this tragic night.
Now – on this Sunday I find myself in this ancient building, surrounded by marching band, traditional music makers with names like the Freubeutermukke (pirates club) in outfits from pirate ships. Girls, boys, man and women of all ages with trumpets, horns, cylophones, drums making rhythmic music in this church. 8 other bands took turns between prayers, sermons, speeches and the confession of faith. I could not imagine such modern sermon given together by a priest and priestess together in such harmony.
Germany is changing or this maybe have been a display of hope. I saw volunteer musicians, event planners, city senators and the community all celebrating the coming together in a festival of 2 weeks. The integration of music, applause in a church, smiling northern German people – there is hope I think – for my birth