012020: Palindrome Days

image of the gallery space

We’re standing in an empty two-room apartment in Kreuzberg, with freshly painted white walls and floors covered in grey carpet. It smells like solvent or glue. A young woman presents us the artwork that is currently shown in this gallery (that’s what the apartment apparently is used as). A bunch of wooden panels and beams are stacked onto each other, occupying one of the rooms completely. It looks like someone’s about to move in, or out; it feels like we need to pass through these rooms to get to the actual gallery. But we don’t: “This artist’s installation is presented in three phases. Currently, we’re in phase two, where the installation—a room within the room—is being dismantled and stored right here in the exhibition space.”

I mean, honestly, my first thought was: This is stupid. This isn’t a gallery, even if the rooms are lit by neon lights and presented by a smart, well-dressed art history student; and the artwork clearly doesn’t function in these rooms. But then again: I liked the idea of showing this dismantled state. We all know it, right? Being in-between, just stacked and stored somewhere, waiting to be put together again. I liked that someone tried to find beauty in it, and I am trying, too.

* * *

A random January list:

I’m reading actual books again. After “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”, I read short stories by Doris Dörrie, and am now in the middle of Steven King’s “On Writing”. Follow me on GoodReads!

If you’re having a hard time getting the year started, my friend Hans has a bunch of arguments to overcome artificial limits. I know Hans, you can fully trust him on that one.

Don’t judge: I started watching YouTubers that recommend minimalist lifestyles and hand out tips for productivity and personal growth (I am already cringing whilst writing this). Matt D’Avella’s videos are nicely filmed, though! I’ve been taking cold showers since, and I love it! Changed my life! New year new me etc.

I’ve been listening to music, too: Hatchie, a singer/songwriter from Australia, got stuck in my head forever. Right now it’s Ngahere Wafer and his album You’re So Cool from 2017. I’m late to the game, as always.

* * *

I found the idea of being in a in-between state also in this beautiful twitter thread by @nichtschubsen. It’s German, and it asks: “If your life was a recipe, at which step would it be right now?” People replied things like “stir gently” or “whip thoroughly” or “throw away and order pizza”. It’s an option, too, and who doesn’t like Pizza?! However, let’s ask the follow-up question: What’s the next step of your recipe?

I hope you’re having a good February, whatever state you’re in. It’s a long one this time, and we had the first palindrome date (02.02.2020) for 909 years (11.11.1111). We won’t outlive the next one, on 12.12.2121. But that’s okay. Keep going/simmering/baking/etc.

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10. Februar 2020

Hatchie

Kommt nicht mehr oft vor, aber hin und wieder spielt mit der Spotify Algorithmus dann doch Songs in die generierten Playlists, die tatsächlich dazu führen, dass ich mir Interpret und Titel merke, sogar mal einen Blick in die Songtexte werfe, oder mir Musikvideos und ähnliche Interpreten ansehe.

Zuletzt war das bei Hatchie so – und ehrlicherweise hat da schon der Name gereicht, um mich absolut zu überzeugen. Gesundheit! Hatchie ist der Künstlername der australischen Singer-Songwriterin Harriette Pilbeam, ihr Album Keepsake ist vom vergangenen Sommer, aber mich holt es auch in diesem regnerischen Winter ziemlich ab. Und das Musikvideo zu meinem Dauerohrwurm Obsessed setzt uns einfach mit in den Tourbus und lässt nochmal kurz verlotterte Teenage Dreams aufleben. Ehrlicherweise genau das, was ich gerade brauche.

Hatchie gibt’s bei Spotify, Apple Music, und Bandcamp.

30. Januar 2020

Sommer 2006

Was gäb ich für Küsse wie kalte Kirschen,
Zeit wie Sand am Meer
Was gäb ich her, wenn jeder Tag
wie der erste des Sommers wär.

Mia. – Engel (YouTube Link)

13. Januar 2020

122019: All I Need is One Night to See if it’s Right

Image of a cloudy sky at night

When I enter my cold Berlin apartment after spending the Christmas holidays at my parent’s house, I immediately throw my bag on the bed and start unpacking. After all those years (10, to be precise) and train rides between Berlin and Bavaria, I still suck at packing bags appropriately. So many redundancies! The water colors I bring every time, as well as the sketchbook, that is left unopened during the whole stay. The stack of unread New Yorker issues—who is actually able to read that much every week?! The shirts and jumpers I wanted to wear but didn’t, as I hardly left the house and spent the holidays in my comfortable sweatpants. And the ugly brooches I bought for everyone but forgot to hand out on Christmas eve. It all goes back into the drawers and shelves. And like those brooches, some things are meant to be left behind in 2019 entirely.

I just finished my yearly review lists, asking myself: What was good? What wasn’t so good? What was missing in 2019, and what do I need more of in 2020? It was easy to make these lists this year. I learned to identify and get rid of stuff that does no good for me (it just took a lot of therapy and a bunch of breakdowns to learn that). But I got it now. Or, let’s say: I got better at it! Cheers to that!

In 2019, I wrote a brief essay on the things I wanted to focus on: More excellence regarding my work; taking up more space regarding myself; and allowing more feelings regarding … my LIFE, I guess?! Well, essay comes from the french verb “essayer”; to try, and that I did. Most of the time. I didn’t become a master of any of these things, but at least I managed to remind myself about them throughout the year. I even allowed myself to be less excellent in certain situations, or take up more space than I would usually, or cry (!!!) while watching a movie; or presenting an honest indifference towards things that didn’t interest me. Or, simply, remembering to hug someone extra hard when it was necessary. (This, in particular, is something I want more of in 2020, that’s for sure.)

What I enjoyed watching, reading and thinking about during the past months:

  • I admittedly was surprised that the German Queer Eye spin-off by the Berlin public tv station RBB actually turned out really nice and, thanks to Fabian Hart, is really wholesome and not cringeworthy at all. You can find the three episodes on the ARD Mediathek (in German).
  • My Twitter feed has been full of hate and destructive arguments lately, so I decided to pause Twitter for a couple of days. I made a list of a small number of people I actually wanted to follow, and until now I don’t miss any of the rest.
  • Doris Dörrie wrote a book about Writing, and even though I haven’t read it yet, I started writing again, on paper, everyday, just for myself. It’s true what she says: 10 minutes of writing can be a cheap, easy and relieving journey back to yourself. Give it a try.
  • I also wrote about salad. I just had to get this off my chest, really.
  • I took the Dazed 2010’s Subculture Quiz and—surprise—my subculture is Normcore. What’s yours?

So, that was 2019 then. Unpacking bags, re-arranging shelves, deleting candids and duplicates in my Photos library, and making lists clearly clears the mind. I hope this brief note finds you well while switching decade. The upcoming year already has a bunch of exciting changes that I can foresee, and I am looking forward to sharing them with you. Stay safe and sound and let’s hug extremely hard when we see each other next time.

This issue’s title is borrowed from: WHY? – Stained Glass Slipper (Listen on Spotify or Apple Music). By the way: You can subscribe to these diary-like posts via e-mail! It’s my newsletter Christel’s Corner. Get it here!

31. Dezember 2019

Über den gesellschaftlichen Status von Salat

Salat ist doch komisch, oder? Das Zeug wächst auf oder sogar unter der Erde, und irgendwer rupft es da dann heraus, knibbelt die ganze Erde ab, und nach 1000 weiteren logistischen Schritten landet es hier vor mir in einer Schüssel. Und ich soll mich beim Essen dann gut fühlen, wie die Frauen in diesem Meme, Women Laughing Alone With Salad.

Gemüse an sich finde ich super. Gurken, bestes Gewächs! Tomaten, so schön fruchtig. Die Auster des kleinen Mannes, wie ich immer sage, denn wenn man sie halbiert, mit abgespreiztem kleinen Finger in einer Hand hält, und dann auslutscht, kann man sich schon sehr mondän fühlen. Auch Rüben sind cool. Kann man nix sagen; schön knackig und irgendwie schrullig.

Aber Salat?! Das ist doch nix. Salatblätter sind immer labberig, meistens zu groß, machen mit Dressing also immer eine Sauerei. Und der knackige Part … dem traue ich erst recht nicht! Was soll das sein?! Irgendwie wässrig, aber auch total bissfest, und am Ende einfach nur unbefriedigend, weil null sättigend. Sorry, aber das ist für mich ein totaler Scam!

Das Beste am Salat sind leider immer die Sättigungsbeilagen. Wobei – nicht leider. Zum Glück! Ohne die hätte der Salat seinen Status als vollwertige Mahlzeit definitiv nicht verdient. Die Nudeln zum Beispiel sind das Beste an asiatischem Salat. Mozzarella und Parmesan – ohne die könnte man italienischen Salat auch sein lassen. Die drei Baguettescheiben, die man sich in der Kantine zum Salat nehmen darf, um das übrige Dressing aufzusaugen – ohne euch wäre Salat niemals da, wo er jetzt ist!

20. Dezember 2019

Wir gehen jetzt auf die 30 zu

Vor einem Jahr noch fand ich diesen Satz witzig. Da war das ja auch einfach; ich war gerade 27 geworden, vom Feeling her also immer noch Mitte 20; da war das alles noch weniger greifbar. Der Satz fiel, um den Kauf eines teuren Möbelstücks zu rechtfertigen. »Wir gehen doch jetzt auf die 30 zu«, da kann man schon mal in etwas investieren, was qualitativ und preislich über IKEA-Niveau hinausgeht. Und daraus ist dann irgendwie ein geflügeltes Wort geworden – fast 30 sein rechtfertigt alles!

Aber jetzt rückt auch bei mir die 30 näher. Ich habe keine Angst vor dem Älter werden, ich finde es generell sogar super. Es ist eher der Drang, die Umstände zu prüfen und abzuwägen, der mich zermürbt. Habe ich mir Erwachsen sein so vorgestellt? Lebe ich eigentlich so, wie ich will? Was genau sind die Dämonen, die mir im Nacken sitzen und mich hetzen? Und wie werde ich sie los?

Früher war mir wichtig, mir auszumalen, wie die Zukunft aussieht. Es hat mir geholfen, mich zu orientieren und Ziele zu haben. Heute scheue ich mich davor, mir die kommenden 10, 20 Jahre vorzustellen. Warum eigentlich? Wieso nicht zugeben, dass gewisse Träume geplatzt sind und so auch Platz für Neues entstanden ist? Wieso nicht ernsthaft hinterfragen, ob mir diese Menschen, diese Arbeit, diese Wohnung, diese Stadt noch das geben, was ich brauche? Wofür all diese Unabhängigkeit, wenn ich mich nicht von ihr losreißen kann?

Wir gehen jetzt auf die 30 zu. Zeit, die Zügel mal selbst in die Hand zu nehmen.

8. Dezember 2019

112019: If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going

November 2019

Partly stressed, partly depressed, with a tiny spark of excitement, I am sitting in front of an empty slide deck. It’s some rainy weekend in October, and I am supposed to give a talk about my work during the upcoming week. I am paralyzed.

I used to give presentations quite frequently; I would even say that it used to be one of my best-trained designer muscles. But during that weekend I noticed how rusty I’ve gotten; how tricky I found it to draw a line without an actual pencil; and how shaky my voice gets while it peeks on the speaker notes. On the other hand: I really, genuinely enjoy it. I love talking about design, about an idea or a craft or a process, drawing that story line and deciding what’s worth saying and what isn’t. I just haven’t done it in a very long time.

So, as I am sitting at my desk, blank page horror in full blossom, I text my friend Ralf about my sorrows. He reminds me of a very basic wisdom: “If it doesn’t work, keep doing it—it’ll come to you eventually.” If you’re going through hell, keep going. It sounds cheesy, plain and overly dramatic, but drama helps, ffs sake; emotions help!, and it has a whole lot of truth to it. In the end, that stroll through hell saved me yet again: After I finished the slides and after the presentation was given and when I allowed myself to be relieved, I noticed: Wow, It’s good to be reunited with something I really like. Winning that spark back wasn’t as hard after all, it just felt so for a little part of the way.

Speaking of speaking: In October, I was invited by StanHema to talk about my design work and its relation to writing and text. That was fun, because as as we all know: Design is writing is design, and sorting and sharing all these connections in my head was really motivating and eye-opening.

I also noticed that this September marked my 10-year-anniversary in Berlin. I’ve always imagined to write a huge thinkpiece on how this city changed me, my life, my believes etcetera yada yada, so that in the end, I just published a list of random thoughts.

Learned about myself: I’m really into poetry. Actually I’ve always been, I just didn’t want to admit it, and I only like the weird stuff. And Rilke.

Even more links: I enjoyed this documentary about elderly people who speed-date (German); I learned a lot about Susan Sontag in this article about writing her biography; and I always admire Robert Riegers photography and especially his instagram posts.

I hope you’re all on a safe stroll off of any hell-like trails, but if you’re in the thick of one: Keep going! Have a blissful start into November.

3. November 2019