Thursday, October 30, 2008

Big Day (1)

Sunday, in Indiana, my sister got hitched. WOOHOO! Congrats, Kat!

We were stuck here in Kassel, but I hear things went swimmingly, she was (obviously) beautiful, there were the usual little dramas with flowers, lots of dancing, the bride's purse that made its way in a friend's car to northern Indiana by morning, etc. Stories to tell...

Next month Lily's brother gets married in Minnesota. What is it with these kids and marriage?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's your thing

I was a little nervous for my first day of teaching, but I made it through without too much trouble. Got there early... had some help setting up the room from a student, introduced myself like nine times because I kept thinking everyone was there, and then another person would come into the room (hi I'm fred. Hi I'm fred. Hi I'm fred....).

I have three Russians, two Belarussians, a Lithuanian, a Cameroonian, a French redhead I suspect of being an Existentialist, and ten Germans.

Today we learned a little slang: "It's your thing." I explained what it means to "dig" something. And we defined "tone-deaf."

They should be ready for anything now.

First day of School

Wish Fred luck on his first day teaching at the University today!
Let the "Mr. Schmalz, ich habe eine frage..." games begin.

Here are some flowers for the occasion.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Premiere: Selbstausloser

Friday night we broke the ice on our new piece. Literally. It took some high-tech efforts by the props department at the theater to construct that thing, which hangs on the side of the stage, dripping, for most of the piece. On Friday night the ice was more solid than it had been all week, so this took Eva awhile. Poor Eva. This is at the very end of the piece, and the rest of us are tucked away in our boxes, mostly holding very still, while she hacks away.

Which is one of the easiest things we've done all night, after much dancing.

Both in and out of boxes.

Afterwards was the premiere party, mysteriously sparse this time around. Which was strange after a full house and a warm applause. But there were many special guests, including

Jens and Ela, Massimo, Atesh, and Julia...

Bert from Amsterdam and Helge from Bremen, both old friends of Johannes's. And Johannes's mother, who drops in like a benevolent angel from Berlin to our premieres, always so generous with her compliments and supportive of what we do. And cracking me up because she's always got one little thing ("the microphones should be louder") she says she absolutely has to tell Johannes about the piece.

In the lobby, there was an exhibit of sorts, a kind of 3D collage of images and texts from each of us. Throughout the process we each brought in items that represented a wish, a secret, or a lie, wrote some sentences about each object, and presented them to the group. Johannes had the idea to fill one of the tanks from Sacre with all the items as a documentation of our research. It's hard to see all the tiny details here, but you can get the idea.

Seeing it, I had the feeling I was looking back and forward at the same time. Back to the research, the origins of a piece. And forward to the life this one will now have on the stage.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Assumed names

Next week I'm supposed to start teaching at the University. Spoken and written English for university certification. I was slotted for two classes - the first part of an intermediate level course and the second part of an advanced business English course.

Today I spoke to the head of the department... while my intermediate class has barely enough (fifteen) people to go, it appears my advanced class will be canceled because I have ZERO people registered. It seems the students in the advanced class will only sign up for it if the teacher is a native speaker. Of English. Which I am. So why am I being treated like I've never been to Cleveland?

Let's see... what might be the problem? Could it be that my name conjures up some... how you say... "UnAmerican" images?

Scheisse! Just my luck.

I discussed it with the department head and we decided that I needed a "more American" name for the course catalog next semester.

I thought I might try on "Mr. Obama." But then I remembered all you Americans (and auslanders who have an image of what is or might be "american") could help... So get at me and tell me what I should call myself to telegraph to these co-eds that I'm the human equivalent of an apple pie that's been hit with a baseball bat while attending a tractor pull.

Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

White Boxes

Shortly after moving in to our current apartment, Fred renamed it The White Box. The living room doubles as his office, and has white walls and a white-ish linoleum floor (I know, yuck). We added white curtains and white shelves. All the better to write poetry in, he says.

Last month, the dance floor in our studio at the theater was replaced - white - and a curtain was added so that we can cover the mirrors when we run through the pieces - also white. And then there's our new piece, which premieres in one week, featuring as a set, appropriately, 6 white boxes....

a forest of microphones...

a hanging block of ice

and many, many costumes. All of them white.

The First 10 Years

happy anniversary, fred.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Things that last

Yes there are dollar stores in Germany too. I went in yesterday looking for a soap dispenser. I walked out with hair clips, a closet organizer, window washing cloths and swiffers. Disposable cheap shit. There is a ongoing debate I have with myself, living in another country. A debate about things. Fred and I have things, things we like, things that last. And they are all in a storage closet in a warehouse in Brooklyn. My grandparents' lamp, our wedding bed, the rug from my parents, the wood-framed couch I found at a salvage yard in St. Paul and refinished with my dad in my parents' garage. We thought we would always have those things, so we bought them or cared for them to make them last. Here in Kassel, we live sparsely, makeshift, our furniture either found or donated from friends or bought second hand. We will be here for the forseeable future, but can anyone tell me how long that will be?

So I end up in the dollar store, buying disposable things. I hear my mother's voice in my head "Don't buy crap," and I wish I could follow her advice. Wish I had my storage closet here in Kassel, could unpack it and never have to buy another crappy replacement thing for the good thing I have back home. I hand over the 5 Euro, head home.

At home I have the morning off. I pick up where I left off on a sewing project. It has been years since I sewed anything other than mending and fixing loose buttons. But the pillow ripped, and I am recovering it with new fabric. Of all the things back home, this is one that made the trip to Germany. I've had it for as long as I can remember - since I was a kid. You can see the fabric underneath the blue silk I'm using to re-cover it.

My mother in law Linda, and my sister in law Lisa are both serious seamstresses. Here are just two things they've made for me that I have here in Kassel - the first bag by Linda, the second by Lisa. You can also check out Lisa's art on her blog:

Lisa and Linda don't just mend and recover pillows, they make beautiful, unique things from scratch, they make quilts, clothes, art. Things made by hand, meant to last.

Like our wedding blanket. It was woven by my mother's friend Colleen Two Feathers as a gift for our wedding 10 years ago this Friday.

It came with us to Germany too. Cat included.