Alles

An American living in Germany. huzzah!

Shine on: tales of being a lady

Once again, the big blue eyes my mother so generously passed along landed me in a bit of trouble. It’s a dangerous combination of me seeming “so open minded” with happy, bulging eyes that dart around like visual feelers and my vulnerability as the foreigner. While most people are not moved by this combination, a few special people see it as an opportunity to move in for the kill. When this happens I feel like a sitting duck that looks like Steve Buscemi.

Since moving here, on a few occasions I have been inappropriately pursued and cornered by men who—and this is just my assumption—see me as an exotic symbol for their conquering. Their game: slither around and feign sympathy for my loneliness (which is very much played up on their behalf), compliment my various awesome qualities (“lol, old news, buddy” – Jess 2 Jess) and move in with a determination that suggests only my kisses will keep their temporary, tactless world in motion. These men behave alarmingly similar: their unifying access point being my “beautiful blue eyes”. To that I give an extra hard burp.

This go-around was the result of a part-time job offer from a seemingly well-mannered man who owns a wine bar in Münster. Seeing this as a fabulous opportunity to practice my German while earning extra gold, I accepted the funny adventure and went in last night to test the waters.

With only a few Stammkunden at the bar, the owner felt it most polite that we start drinking with them. This was no problem until the customers left, leaving me with a man who so cleverly observed that my eyes are blue. This revelation led to back rubs, then hugs and eventually him trying to make kisses with my mouth. Extra hard burp in bold.

You might ask: how could it have evolved to this point? Well, the first stages of slithering can be passed off as “maybe he comes from a touchy-feely family”, thus blasting an immediate “fuck you” grenade in his face seems a bit unwarranted. The next stage is a bit more confusing to manage…you feel the discomfort evolving as his intentions become more apparent, and you start strategizing a smooth exit strategy. The final stage of necessary dismount is the worst—especially considering this stage always involves me apologizing; an awful, broken trait born into being a woman that I consistently try to mend. When it reaches this point, a deserved “fuck you” grenade should be expressed—especially after I have blatantly requested they not make kisses with my mouth—but a piece of me just cannot, so instead I stumble out of the situation like a little awkward Buscemi duck.

Moral of the story: I have another point to add to my “shit I need to work on” list. These eyes of mine, I’m gonna let them shine full steam ahead, but I must learn better ways of managing these obnoxious speed bumps. This is my battle to win, ya’ creeps.

I made a stupid video in celebration of me living in Germany for 6 months. Happy anniversary, Jessica! Here’s to another 6 months of wandering around Europe, collecting fabulous encounters and hopefully gathering wisdom in the process!

Should most definitely be played in HD (1080 baaaaaabyyyyy)

Überwarrerkirsche in Münster—here in July of 1941, Bishop von Galen shared with his congregation: “We have become now not the hammer but rather the anvil. We are being struck and beaten. The hammer forces our people, our youth, ourselves out of the ways of God. But learn this comfort from the smithy: what is forged takes its form not from the hammer alone but from the anvil as well…”

Überwarrerkirsche in Münster—here in July of 1941, Bishop von Galen shared with his congregation: “We have become now not the hammer but rather the anvil. We are being struck and beaten. The hammer forces our people, our youth, ourselves out of the ways of God. But learn this comfort from the smithy: what is forged takes its form not from the hammer alone but from the anvil as well…”

Head-space confession

This month will be a conscious undertaking of blunt, force-fed self-improvement. I have created a workable guideline that will define the next 32 days; a framework that I will use as a tardy variant of Lent…or maybe this is just called “becoming a functional adult.”

Let’s go! So the “W” questions:

What? I’ve been riding this ridiculous, highly damaging and frustrating Jessicoaster of manic proportions—a manicoaster. or Jessicoaster Homanicoaster—likely worrying my close friends and mother with the bizarre & cryptic emails that lean more towards mentally unstable than healthy and prospering. No doubt, I’ve had the blues. It’s like being in the center of a spooky lake in deep fog—you absolutely don’t want to be there, but you haven’t a clue how to leave.

Luckily, some fabulous wind rolled about and pushed a bit of this fog away. My great friend Sam visited me and shone a mirror to the sadness that I’ve been tucking away. My mother saw me at the bottom of my muddy self via a troublesome Skype conversation and wielded magic from across the big-bad ocean. When you feel completely undeserving of love, it’s a blessing to have people that refuse to let you rest in that nasty head-space. So now I feel I owe it to my fulcrums and self to just come back home to Jessica.

What’s the plan? Here I will discuss what doesn’t work to cure the blues: drinking yourself away from your own brain and staying in your bed for over 36 hours during the weekend.

My first plan of action is baby steps. I will begin by building a Jessica Lego stack. Later I will move on the trestles of welded, steel triangles. Then I will become a Transformer that is rubber to all possibilities of blues (fingers crossed, but this isn’t realistic).

So to keep myself focused and out of the gutter, I am going to work on four points:

- budget—exercise—language—create -

- Budget: I am awful with money. My freelance life in Los Angeles taught me how easy it was to both make and blow through wads of cash, a habit that hasn’t quieted. However, since plopping down in Germany, I now make 50% less than I did in LA, so I really have to rework how I approach my funds. That on top of the whole euro to American dollar ordeal makes for a very poor young lady.

  • The rules: On April 30th I’ll reveal the budget spreadsheet I’ve created for myself—a hot mess of daily expenses! I must set these rules or else I’ll continue to play seek & hide with my bank account.

- Exercise: simple, I want to run 3 times around the Promenade, the green space that encompasses Münster, by the end of the month. 3 rounds = 13.5km = 8.39 miles. My endurance is kaputt from too many nights of inhaling buckets of beer. This ties into the budget goal—I will save globs of gold by choosing exercise over a night of binge drinking with strangers. And my roommate won’t have to worry so much about my totally unhealthy weekend cycle (read: drink until 7am Saturday morning, sleep until Monday). Sorry mom.

  • The rules: 1) just run—add one song / section of the Promenade with every session 2) don’t throw in the towel with one bad run—just do it again tomorrow or the next day. Take it eaaassy.

- Language: I haven’t been doing my part to learn German. I suppose this is because when you have little desire to share yourself with other people, you don’t see the purpose in building another communication outlet. Excuse my foul tone, but this ugly, bonkers mentality is not building the Jessica I want to remember as a future old Nana J-ho. Ahh hell no. My core wants to collect all the German words, mess up consistently until I grasp one grammatical concept and communicate like an idiot until I am the most German-American sounding non-German American in Münster.

  • The rules: one hour of German vocab & grammar per day. Exercise spoken and written German more often with my colleagues and roommate.     

- Create: I may not create timeless art, but I feel awful when I’m not creating something. As a compiler of crap, I bake, make quilts, editing footage, write letters, etc. The therapy lies in that I have to stay in my head while creating.

  • The rules: When I feel myself slipping into the blues, simply grab my camera and go on a walk. Or pick up a damn pen. Simple instantaneous choices to wander about / meet people instead of rotting in my brain are what got me to Germany, who knows what could flourish I just Keep on, Keepin’ on.

With posting this, I’m raising the accountability bar rather high. I want to go into this with forgiveness vouchers in-hand, because it’s very likely that I will mess up (big time? please not big time). However, should this occur, I will bounce back and hold fast to these goals. I don’t want to pussy-foot around here…I want feel raised and scream, “Jessica, one day this could all be yours! Everything the light touches is a part of our kingdom!” Just gotta straighten out my head-space.

I believe that in the mind of God, Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Spirit, Universe
Whatever force you claim
Nowhere was smallness a part of the plan
You were not meant to be mindless
Were not made to be a slave to an environment that does not grow you

Open up and let the world love you

— an excerpt from Natalie Patterson’s poem What If?

"It’s always necessary to seek for perfection. Obviously, for us, this word no longer has the same meaning. To me, it means: from one canvas to the next, always go further, further…  "          - Pablo Picasso
This is my favorite photo of my great friend, Sara-Jane. I cannot give credit to the photographer because I stole it from an unknown source a long time ago. Nor can I tell you why I return to this photo so often…but I can demand that someday, somebody with words for days immortalize her beauty in writing, because it’s really something special.

"It’s always necessary to seek for perfection. Obviously, for us, this word no longer has the same meaning. To me, it means: from one canvas to the next, always go further, further…  "          - Pablo Picasso

This is my favorite photo of my great friend, Sara-Jane. I cannot give credit to the photographer because I stole it from an unknown source a long time ago. Nor can I tell you why I return to this photo so often…but I can demand that someday, somebody with words for days immortalize her beauty in writing, because it’s really something special.

If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Everyday tasks

Here’s a word problem for you brilliant math geeks out there:

Jessica has been living in Germany for 16 weeks. She has washed her clothes twice within those 16 weeks, both instances occurring within her first 3 weeks of living there. How many months has it been since she’s washed her clothes?

Allow me to begin by stating that my roommate and I do own a WaMa (cool slang for washing machine), which we purchased from the German equivalent of Craigslist. Her boyfriend transported the WaMa in his Auto, and “we” carried the WaMa up our 5 flights of stairs by recruiting 5 slightly intoxicated Germans from the street and compensated them with Bier. But this WaMa is dated and requires some mysterious adapter that only the wisest wizard (or German plumber) can locate. Thus, we have a WaMa from the days of lore sitting stubbornly in our bathroom, whispering to me on the daily like a menace, “Na na na na poo-poo, your clothes still smell like scheiße and you look like one too.” Our WaMa isn’t so clever with insults.

This morning, for whatever arbitrary reason, I decided 2.5 months was the limit. I sprung straight from my bed to my dirty laundry hamper, stared it straight in the handles and said, “today is the day we purify your soul.” I stuffed the questionable clothes into a suitcase and trapezoid-shaped bag then dressed my body with the cleanest clothes available to make a “get the look!” kind of outfit.

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(Slight aside: let us put these tights into perspective: they were once worn by Katy Perry on a multimillion dollar commercial shoot for her perfume. Now they are in Germany, on the body of the girl who both stole them from the shoot and hasn’t washed her clothes in 2.5 months. Guess who isn’t sorry for anything!)

The next step was to find a laundry station. I knew one existed on some street I once saw, so I set off for that super geographically defined facility. Unfortunately, this city is shaped like a labyrinth with a zillion circular streets, so I wound up wandering around Münster in the rain with my suitcase and trapezoid for about 45 minutes. It was only when despair and failure started sticking to my mood that a miraculous firework went off in my brain: this mystery facility was somewhat near the apartment of a German man who made me a delightful dinner of buffalo mozzarella, arugula, and tomatoes. Cha-ching!

Then like a sly detective, I excavated his address on WhatsApp and artfully crept around his neighborhood. Thankfully I spotted the laundry haven before the German man spotted me. Although that could have been a komisch interaction:

German man: Why didn’t you text me back?

Jessica: That’s boring, instead I decided to surprise you by moving into your apartment!

(Then I would attempt the most awkward escape by sprinting away with my suitcase and trapezoid).

Once inside my treasure, I promptly discovered that the German laundry system is as complicated as the damn language. Thanks to my uncontrollable facial expressions, my “stupefied face” recruited a wonderful woman named Rita, who I suspect earned her PHD in laundry, to guide me through the cleaning process. Speaking with Rita was another “golden combination” conversation: English speaker with poor German skills + German speaker with poor English skills. Thus, to relay my gratitude, I switched into romance movie mode and ran into the raining streets of Münster, purchased Rita a coffee with milk (just how she likes it) and a little bundle of flowers. She accepted my expressions of enthusiasm and love, maybe slightly confused, then showed me the most efficient settings for the dryer.

The end! Now my clothes are clean and Rita and I will live happily ever after.

We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.

—The Mr. Charles Bukowski

You close one door, I open another with candy: pt.1

When I lived in Boulder, CO, I dated a guy who was severely dyslexic. His learning disability was so intense that he could barely write his name, and whenever he had an idea, he would have to draw a picture. If you met what he created on paper before you met him, you would be certain he was a full-blown space cadet.

But I met him after dancing one night. I was eating pizza on Pearl Street, he was eating a cookie, and we started a conversation after he broke up a fight between two guys. As we were chatting, I noticed that was looking at me as though I held all of the information in the world. He had thirst for communication inside his eyes. He told me about his dyslexia before our first date, but I didn’t believe him. His expressive vocabulary and the range of topics he was able to speak about with passion and insight was outstanding, to me it was impossible that he just simply couldn’t read.

Turns out he just simply couldn’t read. But it had always been that way for him, and rather than accepting “this is my handicap”, he worked with it and developed truly inspiring ways of collecting information. The most important way for this guy to connect was through communication. He listened. Good Lord, he would never forget a single thing you told him. He would map out conversations in his head, filing all facts, figures, terminology, opinions, etc. away in efficient systems. He did this because he got this information only once—he didn’t have the same life-reference library (books, diaries, emails) that the reading-capable population has access to.

We stopped dating just because he wasn’t my hand-in-glove fit. I wound up moving back to Massachusetts to be with my light switch boyfriend (on – off – on – off…), and he wound up traveling back to South America to collect plant samples for organic beauty products.

I am writing about him today because I am just thinking about how he so beautifully constructed and understood the world inside his own mind. To me, he was one of the most self-sufficient men I had ever met, despite how much he relied on other people.

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This is me hanging out with my kick-ass mother.

This is me hanging out with my kick-ass mother.

I’m a self-proclaimed nincompoop. Writing & video are the most colorful ways for me to communicate with everyone back home, but I haven’t been providing content. WARUM, JESSICA, WARUM? My excuses:

A) “I don’t have enough time.” While it’s true that my weeks are packed to the breaking point with work and Deutsch-Kurz, there’s always time for communicating with the people I love back home.

  1. Conclusion: This isn’t a valid excuse.

B) Moving to another country is a little overwhelming. The distance from everyone and everything you identify with can feel, at times, slightly difficult to cup in your hands. This new life of mine in Deutschland is different, in the professional, social, individual sense. I am still Jessica, naturally I will never accept otherwise, but I am a stretched version of myself, learning and adapting to completely new forms. To summarize this point: A LOT has happened since coming here, and the more time I spend away from writing, I have less of an idea how to start writing about this experience.

  1. Conclusion: This isn’t a valid excuse.

B) I have met a shyness within myself that I’m unfamiliar with. Truly exceptional things happen on the daily, some much smaller than others, and I wonder what is actually worth sharing, and what should be stored in my brain alone. Turns out I have decided to store nearly everything in my brain alone. This procures a loneliness that is entirely unnecessary.

  1. Conclusion: This is not a fully developed excuse, thus also not valid.

I’m tired of listing my excuses because my next step is an obvious step: I will more actively clutter up the Internet with words & photos & videos, which hopefully make their way to your eyes & ears & heart. So now, like the company that I work for, I will start “developing transparently.”

Here in Schöppingen, Germany, Europe, World, whenever the weather is nice my colleagues are quick to assure me this is an exceptional condition. I’m told, in so many variations, “The weather in Schöppingen is shit.” I can’t tell if they’re encouraging me to hop outside to absorb the warmth & sun OR if they’re hardening me for the impending dread of the coming months.

Today is a shit day in Schöppingen. However, with it also being Sunday, and the last day of a long weekend that included many delicious beers, dance-y times, and Döner kabobs, I am delighted to sink into the laziest version of myself. This means it’s a day for making mix CDs, shredding up my guitar, lounging extreme, and bathing my laundry (it must be this way, there are no public laundry facilities in Schöppingen). I will consider this day as training for the shit weather blues.

So, mother, likely the only person who reads these words (I’m kidding…maybe…I can’t be certain), I offer the following views of the slowest, sleepiest, Sunday in Schöppingen.

a-    Track list for my gorgeous pal Kelly, who requested a nap time CD for her Kindergarten class (see, German and English aren’t so different!). It sure does feel nice to exercise that Music History degree.

b-    Thank goodness I packed this CD sticker as a priority. 

c-    If you were a ghost, or a bird, looking at my Sunday space. 

d-    This is how most adults do their laundry, if I’m not mistaken. 

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Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson