A Year in Moments: Chapter One

July 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

I want to share the first part of a video project that I began in March in Berlin. I film one short video every day and then edit the clips together into little visual chronicles of my life. It’s been a wonderfully enjoyable project which I encourage everyone to try!

Many thanks to Here We Just Dream for providing such a beautiful soundtrack to my spring (go listen to everything they do!) and to all my wonderful friends for making these months a joy, a journey, and a blessing.

Slowing down.

May 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Near the center of a small park, near the center of a sprawling city, behind tall tufts of new grass, the undersides of the petals of English daisies are edged in fuchsia.

Goodness, and what else do we miss when we don’t let ourselves slow down?

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Grand Tour, Take Two: Potsdam

April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

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Three years ago I went with my mom and sisters to the annual library booksale in South Dartmouth. Each summer, we make the rounds at local antique malls, vintage stalls, and yard sales seeking treasures.

Well, that day, amidst the pillars of used paperbacks I found a small basket labeled “old postcards”. I peered inside, expecting to see the cartoonish fonts and garish colors of the 1960s- but instead I found a stack of antique photographs (cartes des visites!!, the 19th-century enthusiast inside me whispered in glee). I snatched up the whole set and tried to mute my delight as I bartered with the man behind the counter. They were supposed to be 3-for-a-dollar but he made me a Yankee deal and sold the lot of forty for $10.

Between the landmarks depicted on the fronts and the faded inscriptions on the backs, it became clear that the pictures were someone’s mementoes from a trip around Europe in 1867. Many of the locations were familiar, but some were less obvious, or from kingdoms long since dissolved and nationalized. I set to work identifying locations and mapping out the cards. How fun it would be, I thought, to retrace this Grand Tour and see what the passage of 150 years has done to each place.

I managed to place all but one card, which showed a windmill but offered no other place markers. The writing on the back was illegible. Google kept directing me to Holland. I resigned myself to not knowing. Then, two years later, I recognized the mill in a friend’s photo-set from an open-air museum of historical windmill replicas in Germany (who knew?). He helped me solve the mystery and complete the map.

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This is what the Historic Mill of Sanssouci looks like in 2013. So here begins a Grand Tour, Take Two.

Practical Impracticality

April 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

As I debated whether or not to strip my iPhone of its (unwieldily, cracked, and somewhat superfluous) case for a run, I thought, “well, perhaps I’ll need to press something on the way.”

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I’m prescient.

Nasturtium

April 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

I woke up this morning feeling sick about the bombing in Boston. I guess you know where your heart calls home when you aren’t there in a crisis. I thought about little Martin Richard and I thought of the pavement in front of Copley Square painted in blood and I thought of how the John Hancock tower reflects the clouds and the blue sky and I just cried.

I went out to clear my head and walked by a store selling discounted flower boxes. I’ve wanted to plant a balcony-garden since I arrived here but never found the moment. On the rack beside the display I found a single pack of Nasturtium seeds.

Nasturtium have been symbolic of Boston to me since I first visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum ten years ago. There, in Spring, in the inner courtyard, strands of the bright orange flowers drape from the balconies like delicate beaded curtains. The courtyard adjoins the hall in which Sargent’s magnificent El Jaleo sounds out through time. (Sargent was a good friend to the city and painted a magnificent mural in the vaulted staircase of the Boston Public Library — where the first of the two bombs detonated yesterday.)

I bought two Blumenkästen and a bag of potting soil. At Wittenbergplatz, on the way home, shelves and tables full of flowers brightened the morning market. I learned after I bought a few starters that pansies stand for remembrance and dianthus for undying love. Nasturtium are for patriotism.

Flowers are for hope and a future that blooms beautifully.

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Patriot’s Day

April 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

home

My thoughts are many miles from me tonight as I turn in in Berlin. I’m sending all love and prayers to this shining city by the water.

It’s strange to be away when terrible things happen at home. I feel in a frenzy for communication, a frenzy to help in some way, a frenzy to be back. All there is to do here is scurry around for information and assurances from loved ones, some pieces of which settle (friends safe, friends safe), and the rest of which create confusion and dread. I am so grateful to have my best friend visiting today. We spring from the same soil and our context runs so deep. She feels powerless and worried, too.

The wifi in my apartment is frustrating enough on a good day and torturous on a bad one, when live-feeds online are a lifeline. We went to the only cafe which stays open 24 hours and offers free wi-fi — appropriately enough called Cafe Belmont.

We were the two non-regulars on the night-shift, tucked into a corner near the ashtrays and potted plants, leaning in to the computer to listen to our president, our governor, our family and friends.

“Boston is a tough, resilient town. So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, and take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city.” We take some comfort in what we heard, because what was said is true.

Boston, you’re my home. Stay safe and strong in spirit. Take care of each other. Marathon on.

Sacrileges.

April 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

“She’s at it again,
the American heathen.
I found traces of peanuts
in her Nutella.”

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