Friday, March 27, 2009

back in Berlin; corrections to blog

hi darlins, I am sorry it's been so long again. In my defense, I was flying from California to Berlin, which did take a while - and here I am now back in Berlin. Since Tuesday noon when I got here, I've reacquainted myself with my family, helped Felix pack and then this morning delivered him to a train where he went off for a whole week's class trip with his schoolmates, found out more about Max's evolving plans (next: wasp lab in Bangalore - no; next: vaccinations and visas - only then, wasp lab in Bangalore), hung out with my husband - and then Wednesday night I went out to my lesbian poets' group in a new till-then-unknown cafe, and this morning (Friday - post dropping Felix at train, which was started at 6 a.m. and finished by 8:12) I had my English-language writing group in the usual little coffeeshop near the zoo train station.

Before I forget: I corrected the name of the (wonderful; poetic; mediational) Malian kora player in my last post. Diane points out it's probably a big family (I had his last name right but substituted somebody else's first name, who has a larger internet presence) - and so I needn't worry so much about the dynasty dying out in one generation or another (so what am I going to write that story about?).

On the plane I read The House in Paris, by Elizabeth Bowen, suggested by Ellen Michel at our last book group meeting in Bloomington which I was able to catch by my strategically timed presence there. It's not this month's choice but was brought up at group and it was wonderful and I hope to do a longer blog about it - in short, two English-speaking kids (9 and 11 or something like that) are both spending the day in a house in Paris - both passing through - one has a dramatic family background with unknown mother who gave him up for adoption, the other has dead mother and is passing through between trains - there's a long part in the middle about that unknown mother's own story - I thought it was wonderful. I highly recommend. I picked it up used at Pegasus in Berkeley.

Yesterday and today I read This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosely. Very short little book - it's all pretty straightforward - just do it - wish me luck!

Poetry writing group Wednesday night - I was very happy I went. Almost didn't go, first because that is play -reading night (but we hadn't got it organized in time so we ended up canceling), then because I'd only been back a day and surely I should be there with Felix (hubster had to go out shortly before eight).

But I went anyway - left around 5:30, group was at six, I left just before 8 and was home with Felix well before 8:30 - so we still got some nice hanging out, reading, and bedtime connecting time.

Eight women in a big open cafe I had never been to before, around a table - two women I didn't know if I count right and five (plus me) who had been at the January meeting, the last one I went to. We had time for two exercises while I was there and I was so glad I had gone. Sister-in-law #1 had asked me that afternoon if I felt reconnected and no, I can't say I had felt that way yet, but Wednesday night being out at the poetry group I knew I was back in Berlin - I had been on the bus and the train, then I was there in the cafe, talking to the human beings, talking German, ordering our teas and hot chocolates together, hearing other people's stories. 

As before, I wrote in English and read my things out loud in English too. I feel like I'm taking too much of the space then, reading in English I have to read loudly and slowly so they get most of it, and I want to rush through - but still I was glad. It's so interesting to see how the things I write circle back to childhood in Kinshasa so often. I wrote about Wednesday  night Bible Study / potluck / reading letters from the States time.

And this morning, in the writing group here (I am still sitting in the cafe; the others have gone) I also circled back to Wednesday night Bible study, twice in our three exercises. It was me, Meg, Anna, and Anna's father. Meg is the American from Wisconsin who has lived in Berlin for 30 years; Anna is the Harvard undergraduate who is in Berlin for the year and today her father, a Hungarian physicist who teaches in Strasbourg and lives in Karlsruhe, was visiting. Anna wrote about a story from childhood and I mentioned it was reminiscent of the movie Toy Story (her older sister made her believe the dolls could move) and it turned out, Toy Story predated this part of her childhood! I had that shock that older people get when they realize how young other people are. Welcome to the middle stage of my middle age!

But I love that we do this together in spite of our age differences, we have a common project and the age difference is only a sporadic curiosity. At least it seems that way to me. So I'm glad to be back in Berlin - and I was thrilled to visit you, my dear friends and readers in Indiana and California.

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