Berlin. Day 3.

Howdy doody. Or, rather, hallo.

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The best kite I saw yesterday. An octopus!

The jet-lag continues to rear it’s little exhausted head and somewhere between the weak morning coffee, a bed located approximately twelve inches from my desk, and a six-timezone difference, I found myself taking a nap at 10 am this morning. It was one of those weird naps in which bizarre images assault your dreams and you lose sense of reality. Quite frankly, I think it may have been more restful not falling asleep. 

I could have just slept until 10 am, you’re thinking. Well, for one, the pre-7 am sun here is unbelievable. I’d call it Hawaii-strong. And for another, at least 3 or 4 of the 5 roommates were up. Toto, you are not in Spain anymore. Waking up before 9 am in Spain is seen as ungodly, and here, people just did it. No complaints. I stood back in silent amazement.

Once I fully detached one eyelid from the other, I cleaned. Some people like to carry out sneaky activities in the house when no one is gone. My favorite is sneak-cleaning–just enough so you can’t tell if the lights are brighter or things are just a little less dusty. I find cleaning relaxing and doing just a bit here and there, and not per obligation, is my favorite way to go about it.

It could be that cleaning was a good way for me to procrastinate leaving the house. Europe is not new to me–I basically get how a metro works, I know when to put on my serious face to make myself look more like a local than a gawking, wide-eyed tourist…but let me tell you, it is still berry berry tricky to figure out a completely new city. Although my vocabulary has expanded (kein-this word is a no, a negation, like we don’t accept kein credit cards and ich verstehe nicht-I don’t understand), I still live in total linguistic isolation.

Except for when I find my language islands. Today’s big adventure was making my way to the Ibero-Amerikanischen Instituts, one of the world’s largest libraries of Hispanic texts in ze vurld! I walked in and signs were in German…and Spanish! Hooray. I also heard an Argentine (or Uruguayan?) or two and I found myself among my kind. The patient, yet direct, librarian guided me through getting a library card and requesting books. Here’s the deal: you never enter the stacks…you request a book on their online system and in half an hour or so, it’s delivered in a tray (like the plastic ones at the airport) to the book pick-up area. Though this could take some getting used to, if you can stand to wait a bit, it is ridiculously convenient. You can even request them online, ahead of time, up to a week in advance. This is cool. Although the inside of the library looks oh-so-standard (no Harry Potter-esque or Old World Europe flair), the space is light, open, quiet, and I think they even have wee-fee.

On my way home, hunger set in and finding a grocery store seemed impossible. I think I ended up at some Lebanese discount grocery store with yogurt from Romania and EVOO from Crete…but hey, hungry people need not Whole Foods to make veggie pasta. (At least not every time…) I picked out two cheeses while I was there…I have no idea what kind of cheese they are (one is stringy, like a super-salty mozzarella, the other was square and firm and meant for grilling, I think), but they tasted good enough. I’m just wondering why I didn’t get more than three bananas because that only means I’m going to have to start this grocery store trek again sooner than I’d like.

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Tempelhöf. See the girl on my right? Maybe she’ll fly once she hits the runway?

And yesterday: that was a great day! The weather was a few degrees warmer than Saturday, a few degrees cooler than today. We met D.’s old dog, who now lives with his former gf and her hubalicious, and saw their flat (spacious, quiet, clean, very cute!) Next on our trek was J.’s house to pick up D’s metro pass. (Here, students are mailed semester-long passes). J. doesn’t speak much English, so I took the back seat in that conversation and worked on reading body language to follow the conversation. For lunch, we went to a slightly over-priced Indian place near the now-defunct Tacheles “museum” (basically, an old building open to tourists and occupied by artists, and other colorful types, for years). Our last stop was Tempelhöf, a Cold War-era airport converted to a public park. This is one of the coolest transformations of public space I have ever seen! People rollerskate, kite-skate, bike, tricycle…all over the old runway. Jury’s still out on whether this valuable real estate will stay a park, but they’d have my vote for it!

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D., J.’s mom, J. Beer in hand (of the photographer + others) with no toiletten! (okay, so that part of the day is not part of my gratitude journal. Though I did find a bathroom on my way out of the park.)

And gratitude for A.: Really sharp kitchen knives for cutting my Lebanese-store veggies and a sweet butcher block cutting board, to top it off. A library card that will allow me to access all of the online materials of a major library. Plenty of time to adjust to a new schedule and new pace.

And academic progress: I’ve started looking at a paper I want to transform into an article. PHEW. It’s going to need some work. But, i got started by reading several articles today and if I can make it past 10 am without falling back asleep tomorrow, I expect to have a productive day. Oh. And I downloaded evernote. I’ll let you know what I think…

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