Sunday, March 16, 2014

Berlin learning curve

Dear Internet,

I have nothing to talk about but my child went to bed at six o'clock so here we go.

Sophie is sick and the weather is bad so I spent all day watching Youtube clips of Baby Einstein and I felt like part of my brain might have died. Then we watched the Little Mermaid and the patriarchy made me uncomfortable.  I started thinking about the roles of black actors in Disney cartoons and I just don't know if there is going to be any more Little Mermaid in our house.  My daughter is probably going to grow up thinking I am an anti-fun politically correct tyrant.  Don't your best intentions always somehow backfire?  If anyone has any suggestions on how they plan on handling the Barbie, Disney, and Princesses please let me know.  At least we live in Germany right now.

For some reason, despite being super busy, I seem to have found time to watch a lot of tv lately.  I loved the first season of Vikings so hard and now I'm watching the second season and waiting to see if it's also awesome but I don't have any feelings yet.  Also, True Detective!  Woody Harrelson being Texas and serious and scary.  And I am trying to love House of Cards but meh.  I guess it's ok?  Sometimes the Walking Dead is fantastic and sometimes it's just so awful that I feel cheated out of Zombie Monday.

My hair is a little better but the highlights I got to cover my gray are super light.  The rest of my hair is super dark so... yeah.  Not very many women are sporting natural looking in Berlin these days.  Did I hop in a time capsule and go back fifteen years?  When it comes to hair color I did.  I am struggling not to feel embarrassed every time I have social interactions with people.  Are they judging me on how I look?  You betcha.  So if you don't know me and you meet me for the first time, please know I did not choose to have Brandenburg village highlights.  Sometimes these things just happen.

I went to the Zara at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin for the first time.  The sales associate projected so much condescension and dislike that I got a little freaked out.  Why was she being so rude to me?  Was it my hair?  My age?  My child?  My accent?  The fact that I was returning some stuff?  All of the above?  Anyway she tried to find reasons why I couldn't return my items.  She even tried to claim my receipt was a copy and not the original.  She managed to look disgusted and personally offended that one item was slightly wrinkled.  In the end she couldn't refuse me service because the tags were on and everything was in order.   I love Zara but it's not like they are a luxury clothing retailer so I don't understand why their staff is so awful.  It's times like this when I miss home. 

The weather has been so nice!  One day we were too tired to walk to the park but it was too warm and sunny to stay inside.  I remembered that we have a big balcony I've been completely ignoring since we moved in.  I moved some of Sophie's toys and we got to be in the sun for hours.  It was great.  We ordered her a little sand/water play table and over the next few months I'll be thinking about making it into an extra sort of room.  Some days I just want to stay home.  Let this be the year I plant flower boxes AND remember to water them. 

Since moving to Berlin I seem to plagued by stressful mistakes.  Like not being able to find my exact parking garage, getting ridiculous parking tickets, getting lost, driving into tunnels where there's no way to turn around (seriously beware of the Tiergarten tunnel!), missing my turns and other silly things that make going anywhere and everywhere a pain.  I never know where I'm going, I don't know where anything is and it makes life hard.  But it's ok, because that's part of moving to a new city.  One day I will get the hang of things.  It's taking a long time because Berlin is big and confusing.  Until then I just have to deal with not knowing.  And now that the weather is nice I'm going to rethink taking the train places.  Is changing trains with a toddler in tow more stressful than driving into a tunnel by mistake?  I am going to find out.



  1. Have you seen frozen? I feel like I would definitely show this film to my future child because it breaks classical disney ideas about what love means etc.

    It's interesting that you mention race, because I'm going to be doing research in Berlin for three weeks in August about racism in German children's books. I'm really interested to see what I might find!

    I've also had terrible customer service experiences in Berlin. When I was about 17 a friend and I went into a store to look at a coat and the sales woman came up to us and told us to leave because it was not a "play store."

    1. Frozen is better but a little sophisticated for a sick two year old :) Your research sounds really interesting. I have observed that Germany has dialog about other equality issues but they don't seem to understand or talk about racism. I've seen some pretty racist Native America dolls in toy stores, no one seems to grasps that caricatures are offensive. And I have heard people say the super taboo 'n' world like it's nothing. :(

  2. I was just talking about the Disney/princess issue with a friend on Friday. She said they've decided not to allow any Disney or princess movies until their daughter is 5. It gave me some food for thought.

    We don't really do TV for our 22 month old, but he had pneumonia in December and we found the tv show Little Bear to be a life saver. It's on Amazon Prime, but you can probably also find it on YouTube. It's interesting (for the toddler-set) without being overstimulating, snarky, or violent.

  3. The best way to learn german is of course in germany!
    I learned german directly in Berlin at speakeasy berlin.
    I really recommend them!