Italiano – no problemo for meo

An Italian class had a big surprise in store

30 October 2020

Being a freelancer also means being free to schedule my time. No longer must I squeeze in dentist appointments around meetings, whooshing swiftly past the boss’s office hoping he won’t see me. Now I get to take time off not just for tooth maintenance, but to do frivolous things – like take an Italian class.

This is easy to do in Germany, the land of organizational prowess. They have something here with the unpronounceable name of Volkshochschule, which despite

Continue reading Italiano – no problemo for meo

Spectators turned spectacle

Corona’s surprising effect on an evening at the theater

21 October 2020

My favorite small theater has reopened after months of lockdown and we are attending a two-woman show called Primacomedy. I return here with mixed feelings. Would it be full? How will they deal with the social distancing inside the theater?

Continue reading Spectators turned spectacle

Mail-in ballots are sometimes the only way to vote

They should be foolproof

9 October 2020

A recent story on National Public Radio drove home to me the scope of the problem of mail-in ballots. A woman described how she accidentally mailed hers without putting it into the second envelope that went inside the first one. Too late, she realized her error.

Her ballot probably wasn’t counted.

Continue reading Mail-in ballots are sometimes the only way to vote

The Oktoberfest was canceled due to COVID-19

But Munich refuses to take it lying down

1 October 2020

“Rahoo-doray-rahoo-doray, welcome Christmas, Christmastime!”

So sing the Whos in Dr. Seuss’ iconic The Grinch who stole Christmas, in which the evil-hearted Grinch steals all their presents, food and decorations. But the Whos refuse to let their holiday be ruined, forming a circle around the community Christmas tree to sing carols, regardless of the lack of trappings.

Munich is reacting similarly to the cancellation of its two-week long festival that, its name notwithstanding, always kicks off mid-September. In normal years, six million tourists descend upon the city to join the fun, but locals from Munich and

Continue reading The Oktoberfest was canceled due to COVID-19

The Race for Space is Over (but not the way you think)

It took social distancing to finally put me at ease

29 May 2020

Embarking on my first trip to the grocery store after the corona outbreak, I am pumped up with anxiety. It’s the same grocery store where I have shopped for years, but entering it is suddenly daunting.

Will it look the same? What kinds of precautions are they taking to protect people from the pandemic? I picture cashiers in full hazmat suits, outfitted with face masks and helmets with clear plastic face shields and latex gloves. They’re probably taking customers’ temperatures, too, like they did in China.

Continue reading The Race for Space is Over (but not the way you think)

Berlin, lost and sometimes found

One last pre-corona trip to the capital

1 April 2020

Berlin is so packed with history, it’s more a matter of what to leave out than what to include when you’re visiting. The Prussian empire, with Frederick the Great as its leading man; the Nazis, whose leading man needs no mention; or the Cold War that split Berlin in two? Over four days, we discovered several interesting tidbits about each of these epochs.

Berlin, lost and sometimes found – read by author Brenda Arnold
Continue reading Berlin, lost and sometimes found

The Secret Second Life of Balconies

Too cold to sit outside, but no need to waste that space

The Secret Second Life of Balconies read by the author Brenda Arnold

28 January 2020

German apartments are often small compared to the average American one. Besides, more people live in houses in America and have more room. Because space is at a premium, Germans know exactly how many square meters their place has and scratch their chins in wonder when they hear a description like three-bedroom apartment. Such vague classification would never satisfy. Just how big are those bedrooms, pray tell? And is it a live-in kitchen (sorry, that’s my best translation for Wohnküche)? How many square meters is the living room?

Continue reading The Secret Second Life of Balconies

Count Tree Music

Count Tree Music read by the author Brenda Arnold

19 January 2020

Just a song to me, but the sound of freedom to an East Berliner

Sometimes it slips off my radar exactly where I live. I don’t forget that I’m living in Germany, but the kind of people I see on a daily basis are a lot like me. They’re Germans, sure, but they are well traveled and read pretty much the same newspapers and books that I do. We all get thunderously upset about Trump and the current state of the U.S. and the other demagogues emerging across Europe – all over the world, even! Where will it all lead? I get so accustomed to these conversations that they become a ritual, devoid of real meaning.

Continue reading Count Tree Music

Hot wine and cold toes

Trying to fake it as a local at the Regensburg Christmas market

Hot Wine and Cold Toes read by the author Brenda Arnold

Who lives in these towns and what do they do for a living, I wonder as I watch the landscape roll by.  I’m on a train headed to Regensburg to visit my friend Michaela and the Christmas market. Two hours of reading time, yay, I think, but can’t keep myself from looking out the window at the never-ending beautiful scenery. Gently rolling hills and pine forests alternate with

Continue reading Hot wine and cold toes

The 37 Days of Christmas

The greatest German achievement is making Christmas last half the winter

29 November 2019

The 37 Days of Christmas, read by the author Brenda Arnold

In my last post, I talked about how Germans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. What I neglected to mention is the most significant hindrance to this, namely that they start gearing up for Christmas in late November – and the festivities continue through the second week of January.

Continue reading The 37 Days of Christmas