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Hamburg was Happening

Jun. 18th, 2012 | 12:43 am

I went to Hamburg this weekend, and it was pretty great! Not my favorite city- too boaty- but interesting and nice to walk through and busy.

We got there, dropped our stuff off at the hostel, and walked to the train station, where we saw there was an Anonymous protest against Scientology being held. I've never seen an Anonymous protest, but they had the masks and the flag and were passing out little pamphlets, so that was really cool. Also, within about ten minutes of seeing the protest, a giant group of Naruto cosplayers walked by as well. During our city tour we saw some kind of tiny pageant and filming for some sort of tv show involving police officers as well. Also, you know, the city. Not all of it, because Hamburg is HUGE, but a good chunk of the old city.

I meant to go to the Reeperbahn- the red light district- for a little bit, just to walk around and say that I had, but decided to go try and visit the tea museum beforehand. Long story short, I ended up getting lost and walking about 2 hours on an empty stomach (things eaten that day: two breadrolls and an ice cream), which killed any desire to go to a place full of people who were probably drunk. So I ate an excellent doner and did my homework and read. It was pretty nice, actually. Also, I saw a bunch of people dressed up like pirates while I was walking.

Hamburg is more expensive than Berlin, and I ended up spending basically all my money on food (to clarify: basically all the money I spent was spent on food. I did not spend all of my money on food), but it was pretty good food. Candied almonds! And, for the record, hazelnut ice cream is fantastic.

Last Friday I also had my midterm. I hope it went well. It seems weird to think that we're halfway through the course.

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Berlin: Week Two

Jun. 10th, 2012 | 12:16 pm

I've been really cranky today, so perhaps it isn't the best time to write this, but I'm trying to keep this thing up, so here we go.

The reasons for my crankiness are twofold- first, some random guy grabbed my arm in the middle of the street, stood about 6 inches from me, and demanded to know if there was juice at the fleamarket. He was really tall and really insistent, and it freaked me out a bunch. Second, every time I try and put the kettle on for some tea, the kitchen is shut because someone is cooking. Two very different reasons.

Right. Other than that, things are doing pretty well! I'm feeling more comfortable with German, although nervous for our midterm next week. Class is going well, and the people are nice. There's a little corner shop down the street from class that some of us eat lunch at, and the owners are really nice and helpful and gave us free ice cream on Monday.

On Wednesday we went to The East Side Gallery, which is the largest/longest open-air museum in the world, at over a kilometer, and is paintings on a stretch of the Berlin Wall. It was really cool and I liked the history. We also went to Kreuzberg to look at street art, which was interesting, and Tacheles, a sort of artists-collective/museum-type-thing. I wasn't a huge fan of Tacheles- it was interesting, but not really my thing, but overall it was a pretty good day.

The weather picked up, too, which was nice. It's finally getting warmer.

Yesterday we had an excursion to Dresden, which was amazing. Old Dresden is gorgeous, with all it's neo-Baroque architecture and fancy buildings. We took a tour around the old town, had lunch, toured the Semper Opera, and then had about an hour and a half of free time before returning. I went to the Old Master's Gallery and saw the Sistine Madonna. I saw it when I was younger, and I really liked it, and I'm really glad I saw it again. I saw Titian and Botticelli and Rubens and a Durer and a whole mess of Saint Sebastians. It was wonderful.

Next weekend we're going to Hamburg. I hope it's awesome. It should be, right?

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Hello, Berlin

Jun. 3rd, 2012 | 01:24 pm

Wrapping up my first week here. I got in safely, didn't do much the first day and a half because I was adjusting to the language change, and class started Monday!

It's been pretty good so far. I got into B-1, which is what I was aiming for, and it seems to be a good level for me. There are lots of nice people in my class, which is good, because it's important to be social (I have to keep reminding myself of this after spending two summers as a hermit). I've already given a presentation and written an essay!

Yesterday I went to museums! Four of them, to be exact. The Beate Uhse Erotikmuseum, the Kathe Kollwitz Museum, the Museum fur Fotografie, and the Schwueles Museum. I saw a lot of erotic nudes. As you might expect.

The Erotikmuseum was really cool! I love sexy history, and it had a lot of interesting things. A statue done in the classic Greco-Roman style, but with a raging boner. A pipe carved out of bone that had erotic carvings on it. A vagina done in bronze. Fertility idols and aphrodisiacs and sex toys. And lots and lots of drawings/paintings. Something I noticed that I thought was interesting was that most of the European art was a) from the early 20th century and b) very focused on the woman. There was more going down on ladies and fingering and such than there was penetration or handjobs/blowjobs. They were pretty though, for the most part. Most of the Eastern art appeared both older and more interested in portraying intercourse with enormous dicks entering vaginas that took up a good part of the woman's torso. There wasn't a lot of queer erotica, and most of it was European.

The Museum fur Fotografie was a bit of a surprise. The first two floors were dedicated to the work of Helmut Newton, who did a lot of...erotic nudes. They were good though! Very fashionable. The top floor was an exhibition on Japan after the War, and had some great pictures, especially the city shots portraying modern and traditional aspects of fashion and everyday life.

I went to the Kathe Kollwitz Museum on the advice of my host mother. I had no idea who this lady was or why she had a museum. Turns out she was an artist who did a lot of sketches and woodcarvings and engravings and such. I wouldn't say she's become a favorite, but her stuff is incredibly evocative and a lot of her portrayals of loss were excellent. Worth checking out.

The Schwueles Museum was kind of sketchy! It announced its presence via a GIGANTIC pink triangle on the side of the pavement, but then you had to walk down a little graffiti'd alley to get to the tiny museum. It was cool also, though. I knew Berlin in the 30s was not a bad place to be queer, and the museum had a lot of info on that, as well as other time periods. It was mostly focused on gay dudes, but there were little bits for lesbians/bi people/trans people here and there.

Today my class visited the Reichstag, which was cool. It would have been better if it wasn't also super cold and raining. My bones hurt now.

That's about it!

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May. 1st, 2012 | 07:25 am

I am officially on my first day of summer vacation! I had my last two exams yesterday, and although I'm not entirely confident about them, I'm not incredibly worried, either. We're going to see Cabin in the Woods this afternoon and I don't know what to expect but I'm hoping it will be the sort of Joss Whedon thing I enjoy rather than the sort of Joss Whedon thing I am uncomfortable with. Same about the Avengers, although I have more confidence in that because it's a bigger scale project.

My roommate watched all of LOST over the past month and a half, and wow, what a mess of a show. I enjoyed the episodes I saw, but I never got really invested. The people were incredibly attractive, though. Someone said that the plane must have been on its way to a Beautiful People Convention in order to rack up that many good looking people. I agree.

I'm really nervous about Berlin this summer. I'm sure it'll be great and fun and all that, but I'm still worried about taking classes and my German and what my host family will be like. I leave in just over three weeks, and still have paperwork and all that to do. Plus, I have to figure out how to get to NOVA.

Ahhh interesting summer, I guess?

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Apr. 21st, 2012 | 01:24 pm

So I worked out the difference between 'nightmares' and 'bad dreams' a while ago. For me, a nightmare is generally a chase dream, where I wake up scared and with my heart racing and all that jazz. Bad dreams are upsetting and tend to linger, but don't give me the same level of panic that nightmares do.

I haven't had a nightmare in about two years, now, but I've had a bunch of bad dreams and they're probably worse than nightmares, in all honesty.

Most of my bad dreams seem to happen during naps on the couch. I know I had an absolutely horrifying dream a few weeks ago, but luckily it's gone from my memory now. It creeped the hell out of my roommates, though.

Cut for violent, horrifying imageryCollapse )
And then I woke up.

I think that it was partly due to stress, but wow. Sometimes I forget how awful my unconscious mind can be.

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Apr. 7th, 2012 | 09:47 am

I haven't written in a really long time! There hasn't been a lot going on in my life.

Except I got accepted to study in Berlin this summer! That was pretty great. I'm still filling out paperwork, but I am hoping things will work out and I can study there and see my grandparents as well. Also, learn more German.

Spartacus: Vengeance ended and broke my heart. This is why it's a bad idea to get emotionally invested in shows that have no qualms about killing people off. I also started watching Game of Thrones, because apparently I didn't learn from Spartacus.

I'm in the home stretch, really. School is over the last week of April, and the work is starting to pile up. Mostly due to my procrastination, but whatever. I have three more 10-page papers to write, but luckily I have one half done and another intensively outlined. Haven't even started the third one, though.

Also! Randall Munroe, of XKCD, came to my school to speak. He graduated from there, so it made sense. He's...not actually a great speaker. As in, he could do it, and he told some good stories and I was interested, but it didn't come naturally and he spent a long time talking about his wife's breast cancer in between more light-hearted stories, which was completely understandable, but also a bit jarring.

Aside from all those things, though, not much has happened. It's Easter tomorrow, and we're celebrating with a ham and real mashed potatoes (we're lazy and so eat a lot of dehydrated mashed potatoes).

I want to say I'll post more often, and I will make an effort to try, but if I forget...It'll probably happen. Thanks anyone who is still reading.

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I Was Social This Week!

Mar. 11th, 2012 | 11:32 am

Well...I don't really know if I was social, but I was active! I went out and did things!

It was a great week. The museums were great, as always, although the Spy Museum was full of obnoxious middle schoolers on a field trip. I had also never been to the Holocaust Museum, and it was really great. Very well put together and informative. The zoo was pretty fantastic too. Did you know the cheetahs are named after Harry Potter characters? Draco, Granger, and Zabini (called "Beans"). I thought that was pretty great. We went to Baked and Wired in Georgetown for cupcakes, and they had one called "Uniporn Rainho" that looked absolutely amazing- funfetti with pink icing and sprinkles on top. I was in the mood for chocolate/peanut butter (cupcake name- "Pretty Bitchin'") or I would have got it.

We did a lot of walking though. I'm glad I'm lazing today, my feet are kind of sore.

BUT! We went to a club! A dancing club! And I was nervous but the show was great and I wasn't nervous about dancing at all. It was lots of fun and I danced with people and I really want to go again.

So yeah. Success!

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Mar. 4th, 2012 | 09:38 am

We're starting our spring break today! Unlike my sister, who is going down to sunny Panama City, FL for spring break, I shall be showing my roommates around Washington DC. It's a good place! I'm really excited about it because I love DC. We're doing the Smithsonian museums (Natural History, Air and Space, others?) and monuments and the Spy Museum and the zoo and Georgetown! And on Friday we're going to a club to watch a drag show and hopefully have a good time. I'm a little nervous about the club because a)dancing and b)I'm not sure of the etiquette of bringing straight girls to gay bars. I asked around and apparently it's ok?

Anyway, I hope it's a good time. I also have to start work on my final papers, so that's going to be less than fun, but oh well.

My life is so fascinating.

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Feb. 18th, 2012 | 05:32 pm

My real life has not been incredibly interesting as of late- not necessarily in a negative fashion, but just...there. The biggest piece of news is that my roommate now has a boyfriend. And that I've decided on all my final paper topics (German Romanticism: Rotkappchen/Little Red Riding Hood, Civil Liberties: Women's reproductive rights/abortion, Comparative Politics: Indian defense policy re: Kashmir, and Terrorism: the Lakshar-e-Taiba).

Also, I realized that I really love Starz' Spartacus. Completely and unironically. It has a lot wrong with it, it's over-the-top as hell and is utterly ridiculous, but I love it anyway. I love the fighting scenes and the gratuitously graphic sex scenes, but mostly I love the character interactions and scheming.

SO YEAH. Spartacus. Good characters. Lots of gratuitous slo-mo and blood. Lots of random nudity. It's a great show and I am way more invested in it than I'd like to be, but oh well.

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Didn't even know that was possible

Jan. 27th, 2012 | 09:13 am

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the John Green-est John Green book I have ever read. And he only wrote half of it!
I have a problem with John Green, in that all his books are incredibly samey and follows the same basic tropes-- self absorbed, slightly irritating main character, the best friend who is always more interesting than the actual protagonist, and The Girl, who is idolized but shouldn't be because she's a human being-- but I always end up loving them anyway. How do you even do that, John Green? (My other problem with him is that I always feel like I have to say his full name. It rolls off the tongue very nicely.)

But yeah, I've been meaning to read Will Grayson for a while, because John Green, and I heard there was a gay character (multiple gay characters, actually!) and I'm pretty easy like that. And it was...ok. I liked the first Will Grayson's parts, but I forgot that I've actually read David Levithan before and was less than impressed. He did a good job getting across depression, but his Will Grayson never used capital letters and was way less likeable than John Green's one. Also, I got the uncomfortable feeling that David Levithan really doesn't like women. I don't mean in the 'he's gay, so obviously he doesn't like women,' but more in the 'this dude has a problem with women' way. I've only read Boy Meets Boy by him, and I remember not liking it very much either, so maybe I'll just steer clear of his work from now on.

That's really it. I just wanted to write this review for some reason.

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