November 2009


Today is one of the days I wish I had stayed in bed. A gray, cloudy sky and lots of rain. I broke one of my glasses and that money could definitely have been spent much nicer. Suddenly my thesis file does not compile without error messages and warnings. Half the references are suddenly unknown – and I did not change anything from the last time I used it (when it complied just fine) and today. I am wasting so much energy and time on this crap which I could use for reading and writing that thesis. Maybe I just should have used OO like everybody else instead of JabRef and LaTeX. And I am unhappy with the picture quality of The Husband’s new camera which is just the icing on this day. And I am still waiting for the proof-read version of my article which I sent a month ago. I am so grateful that my friend reads it – but she wanted to send it back a while ago and is suddenly out of office and I have no clue when she will be online again. I hope the editors will still accept it. And of course I am still frustrated about the rejection for the Referendariatsplatz – now I need to go to the employment center and tell them I will be unemployed soon.

On the other hand I know that I should stop complaining immediately as everything else is wonderful and we are happy and healthy.

Additionally I am able to cross off a lot on my to-do-list. I am almost done with commuting. The meeting with my thesis advisor was fine. She liked the first two chapters and waits for more. Me, too. I really need to get a huge chunk done until the end of January.

I cleaned most of my office, organized the department’s Christmas party for the last time, and postponed my farewell party after Christmas. I only need to write a bunch of evaluations for my students and file them.

A couple of days ago I received a really nice CD as a present – Bach’s Mass in b minor and enjoy listening to it very much.
Speaking about music: The Husband and I decided that we will spend a weekend in Berlin, meeting friends, and visiting a concert: the Weihnachtsoratorium performed at the Berliner Dom. Tickets are already purchased.

And I am finally, finally done moving all books from my office and my apartment to our apartment. Each week I filled the trunk with books which was easier for me than organizing one big move. Last weekend The Husband and I have sorted all books into the new shelves, finally merging our assets.   And of course we sorted them alphabetically, so in my short what-have-I-read-reviews I could now add the line “putting the book back to the shelf between book a and book c” –  as seen on Isabo’s blog.
It is good that I am done by now as I had to realize last week that walking down the stairs with small piles of books is fine, but walking up the stairs without books but my growing belly becomes exhausting after a couple of turns.

Being pregnant is awesome. I love it.

I did not get a Referendariatsplatz – a position as a student or trainee teacher – for the coming run. Because of one of my subjects I honestly did not expect a rejection. What a bummer!

“Wie es leuchtet” by Thomas Brussig
Published by Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag in 2006, 608 pages

More than a decade ago I attended a public reading by Brussig but was not really mesmerized by him at that time. Especially during dinner I sensed him as kind of aloof. For years, however, I think it was more due to most of the attendees being – hm – sort of elitist?

Anyway. I read” Helden wie wir” some years ago but it did not really catch me – and of course I saw “Sonnenallee” (which I enjoyed very much) in the movie theater in East Berlin. The variations of laughter were quite interesting – some jokes were funny to my East Berlin friends, and some to my West German friends.

Last year The Husband bought “Wie es leuchtet” for our vacation and read it with great pleasure. This fall I took it with me when we went abroad – and am totally smitten.

“Wie es leuchtet” covers the time from August 1989 until the reunification in 1990, and most of its storyline takes place in Berlin and Karl-Marx-Stadt.
The book starts with a kind of prologue by a first-person narrator who turns into one of the main characters in the novel. We get introduced to a group of individuals and their perception of the tide of events: e.g. Lena, a physiotherapist, her “brother”, a photographer, Waldemar, a hotel porter, the Wilde Willy, an ambulance driver, a lawyer, a prosecutor, a police man, an artist, a journalist from West Germany etc. etc. etc.

Their plot lines are developed separately; some of them are connected with each other, while others meet coincidentally or just pass by each other on a street.

Brussig weaves a net of different live experiences, different perspectives, and while doing so makes this time period tangible and understandable.

The first three sentences:

“Verschwommene Bilder

Alles, was ich über diese Zeit weiß, weiß ich von deinen Bildern, sagte Lena. Ja, es ist meine Bestimmung, dem Leben die Bilder zu entreißen. Das Leben zu knipsen bedeutet, Menschen zu knipsen.”

And on a side note: while the book is fiction there are some parallels to real persons. The journalist, for example, is based on Matussek who works for DER SPIEGEL – and kudos to him for his great review which is published on Thomas Brussigs website.

to meet my advisor this afternoon. I am curious how this meeting will turn out – and how much time she has devoted to reading the two chapters I gave her.

I asked for this meeting because I really need to finish the next chapter which appears like the Gordian knot to me most of the time. Pages and pages of notes.

And I have only two months left. I guess after the meeting I definitely need to write yet again a schedule for these two months.

“Erinnerungen eines Davongekommenen. Die Autobiographie” by Ralph Giordano
Published in 2007 by Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 554 pages

A while back I bought this book for my commute – it was on sale at the book shop in the train station, and his book “Die zweite Schuld” is in our shelf and on my to-read-list for a very long time. It took me a while to finish it – reading it during the commute just did not work out, and so I started it again during our vacation where I finished it within a few days. It is a beautifully written book, and sometimes I would read passages aloud due to his wonderful writing style.

Giordano writes about his life, separating it into seven chapters and labeling them numerically. In “Das Vorleben” we learn about his family history, his grandparents, his Sicilian father and his mother. In “Das erste Leben” he writes about his childhood in Hamburg during 1923-1934. Due to their Jewish heritage, his family is persecuted by the Nazis but able to survive by hiding (“Das zweite Leben (1934-1945)”). In the following chapters he writes about him being a communist but growing estranged from the communist party (“Das dritte Leben (1945-1961)”), his work as a journalist (“Das vierte Leben (1961-1982)”) both for the WDR and as a freelancer (“Das fünfte Leben (1982-2007)”). He concludes his autobiography with “Ein Epigramm”.

The first three sentences:

“Bezeichnenderweise begann mein Leben mit einem Malheur, von dem es schon am Tag meiner Geburt fast beendet worden wäre – ich drohte zu ersticken.
Es war der späte Nachmittag des 20. März 1923, in der Heitmannstraße des Hamburger Stadtteils Barmbek.
Retterin wurde die Großmutter mütterlicherseits, Selma Lehmkuhl, geborene Seligmann.”

A couple of days ago we went to see “Das weisse Band. Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte” (“The White Ribbon”), an Austrian-German movie which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and apparently is nominated for the Oscar as well.

The movie takes place in a small protestant Northern German village and focuses a group of children and their families. A narrator, the teacher, tells us what happened in 1913/14: One day the doctor has an accident while riding his horse, but it soon becomes evident that someone has consciously effectuated it by straining a cord. The suspect cannot be revealed. This accident does not stay the only one, more are to follow, and appear to be a punishment aimed at the Janus-faced doctor, pastor, and baron.

The movie is black-white, and only when the choir sings you hear music – a very interesting view-listening experience.

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