It’s February 29, shortly after 11pm. I’m sitting in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg, on an old but comfortable IKEA sofa. This day was a rare one. I hope you made it count!
So. February. I changed my phone’s passcode in the beginning of this month. I’ve had the same four-digit-code for at least four years, and as my phone does not support any form of biometric identification, I need to keep typing that code to access my device. What I was not aware of though was the strength with which this code had been woven into my muscle memory. After 29 days, and over hundreds of unlocks, my thumb still is not quite able to perform the new numeric array. The struggle is real!
Sticking with phones (topic-wise): The new qz app got quite some attention in our office slack and in my twitter stream. Basically, it’s a robot that texts you the news. In a messenger-like interface, it provides short bits of information, and offers either questions to learn more on the topic, a link for further reading, or another piece of content. While the tone of voice is friendly and human-like, I only used it once for curiosity reasons, and never again.
What I started using more during the last month was Snapchat. We all struggled in wrapping our head around the confusing, basically also non-existing interface (swipe here, tap there, accidentally send an ugly selfie to a stranger and close the app in frustration), but I started liking it after a while. It’s nice to get so close to people’s lives, almost observing them, letting them carry you around their everyday life through the phone’s front-camera. While there are some really good snapchatters like my friend Eva (? hurraeva) or Cecilia (? motionandgrowth), who only use it when they actually have a relevant story to tell, it’s mainly a channel for nonsense and gibberish, which, honestly, is quite nice after a long day of work. Let the others do the talking. ? christowski1 (lamest nick name in the history of nick names.)
His death earlier this month truly saddened me. I have been in awe of his work ever since I started writing; his way of telling stories and embracing life‘s oddities has been a true inspiration during my last ten years (I wrote about one of his readings nine years ago on this blog). When he passed away, so many beautiful, admiring and sad articles had been published, and they got me thinking: How do we appreaciate someone’s existance while they are still with us, without being overly emotional or pathetic? How do we let them know we appreciate the work they do, and the time they share with us? I find that hard sometimes, oftentimes.
Roger Willemsen wrote a quarterly column called Willemsens Jahreszeiten in ZEIT Magazin. Here’s the archive. Even though there won’t be a new column this spring, we have one thing to look forward to in March: Daylight saving time. “Es wird Frühling!”
One of the hardest months of the year is coming to an end. The darkness of winter is eating me up, I want to hide inside and just wait till it’s over. Neukölln is not a pleasurable place to be during the winter months – I hate spending time outside after 5pm, which leads to a lot of home office days and me temporarily moving to my friend’s home in Prenzlauer Berg.
Something that helped my dark mood and misanthropy: Avoiding public transport. I stepped up the cycling game, buying thermal underwear, rain clothes, and made a DIY ass-saver (who would buy a bicycle without mud guards?!). When it was -10°C, my most important purchase was a pair of really expensive Roeckl gloves, which I lost one week later. By then, January was well-disposed; temperatures almost spring-like.
Also purchased were too many books this month: Brian Christian’s The Most Human Human, Sarah Ruhl’s 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, and a couple of novels I want to read this year. The latter – 100 Essays – is just a pleasure to read because it consists of really short, really fun musings on theatre. I tend to buy a lot of books and never make it past the first 80 pages, and for a long time I thought I am just not the smart book person I wanted to be. In fact, my attention span is very short when it comes to reading, but oftentimes, I also just choose the wrong ones. I had maybe two or three books last year that I read in one go, for example Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A fantastic novel with simply the right amount of zeitgeist and magic. I bought it at The Curious Fox in Neukölln, which you should pay a visit if you’re into english books.
Before you start, make sure that you follow this guide at an even time: Wait until it’s half three, or eight, or maybe quarter to ten.
Stand in front of your desk. Look at it with a judging eye, and after a few seconds, throw away everything you don’t need. Put all open letters and documents in their respective folders and drawers.
Then, look at what’s left: Everything irrelevant gone? Start spreading out all remaining objects evenly on the table; as if their position needed to balance out the tabletop. Afterwards, adjust all objects to a specific angle.
Sit down in front of your neatly arranged desk. Look at your computer, take a deep breath, and switch it on. After the operating system is accessible, navigate to Finder → View → Show View Options. This opens a narrow, floating window with settings.
For icon size, chose 16 × 16. Select the maximum grid size, and for the label position, select “right”.
Close the little floating window, then close your laptop. Take a deep breath, and lastly, close your eyes.
A book I always like to give away as a present is Miranda July’s first collection of short stories, “No one belongs here more than you”. They are all brilliant, weird, and heart-shaking in their own way. You can’t really go wrong with it, there is something for everyone in it, and it always tells you something new.
With July’s first novel, “The First Bad Man”, it’s a little different. Even though it says on the back cover that I need to buy this twice and give one to a friend, I hesitated to do so. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed reading it, and there were many scenes and ideas I really liked: The Globus Hystericus for example, which appears to be the narrator’s main concern at first. Her visits to the doctor weave a beautiful and sad connection between the characters, and strain a golden thread throughout the book. Miranda July has great talent to subtly create scenes and spaces—I immediately felt as a neighbor or observer, hanging around somewhere in the vast, sunny and empty streets of Los Angeles. In a way, the whole story felt a bit like a rumor being spread in the neighborhood—a rumor about this really strange person and her gardener, a story about violence, unrequited love and parenthood.
Before thinking about giving this novel away as a present, I do recommend to read it for yourself first. It’s not for everyone. Also: The german title is “Der erste fiese Typ”, and this just sounds so wrong and absolutely not how Miranda July would speak; you should read it in english if you can.
For the book launch, Miranda created an online store where she sold artefacts that make an appearance in the book. A broken vase, a long dress with many buttons, a spoon or an old envelope—by now it’s all sold. July always adds a layer to everything. I still love that about her.
Vielleicht aus einer romantischen Vorstellung heraus habe ich es mir immer wichtig und nützlich vorgestellt, Dinge mit einer Schieblehre zu vermessen.
Schließlich schenkten mir meine Eltern eine zu Weihnachten – edel verpackt, eingebettet in ein samtenes Schutzköfferchen, mit digitaler Maßanzeige – ein wunderbares Geschenk. Pappkarton konnte bis auf mehrere Nachkommastellen millimetergenau bemessen werden.
Das war 2011. Seit vier Jahren liegt die digitale Schieblehre unberührt in meinem Schreibtischcontainer. Oder in der Werkzeugschublade? Ich bin mir gerade gar nicht sicher. Aber sie ist definitiv griff- und einsatzbereit, falls doch einmal etwas schieblehrengenau geprüft werden muss.
I’m walking through Hackney with Jack, it’s around 11pm. We just bought some ice cream and are going to watch an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race at his place, when I found a penny on the street. I don’t like english money; they coins are heavy and their sizes are weird.
Jack hums, Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck. But really, I’m not going to pick up this penny, it’s almost 12, the day is over already anyway, there is just no point.
I’m currently spending two weeks at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London to attend their Dance Summer School programme. I do ballet, contemporary and choreography. Last week we filmed some of our work, and I saw myself dancing for the first time. It’s hard and unpleasant, but it’s the best way to learn and improve.