Next stop Gothenburg

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I got to the airport 15 minutes before take off and made it. We were only ten passengeres going to Dizzel.

Actually, I was thinking of giving you a third Leipzig post but life has just been happening all the time since I returned…I’ve spent a substantial part of the weeking working on a secret project that I can’t talk about yet (yet!) and I’ve also had a far-travelled guest: Gerrit, who just spent a year in Tanzania and now speaks fluent Swahili. It sounds really cool!

The two last picture show: a very interesting selection at the street market, and one of the impressive locations I looked at, my second favorite

But let’s pay some more tribute to lovely Leipzig. I managed to pop into the two most famous churches. Saint Nicolas is not only gorgeous, it is also where the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 started. Cabaret artist Bernd-Lutz Lange said about the events which started in the St. Nicholas Church: “There was no head of the revolution. The head was the Nikolaikirche and the body the centre of the city. There was only one leadership: Monday, 5 pm, St. Nicholas Church“. If I understood correctly, the Monday prayer is still held today,  5 pm.

The other important church is Saint Thomas where no lesser than the great Johann Sebastian Bach worked for nearly 30 years, and where he is also buried. Of course, it is also home to the world-famous Thomaner Boy Choir. Actually, it seems that every important person in history has been hanging out in Leipzig. Mendelsohn, Goethe, Schiller, and I guess/hope some women, too. Goethe’s studies in Leipzig even inspired him to set parts of his “Doctor Faustus” in the Leipzig tavern “Auerbachs Keller”.

In town, I came by a crowd with headphones and upon looking closer, I saw that it was a silent concert. There was a band playing without making a sound and the bystanders listened through their headphones. That’s a pretty neat way to not disturb anyone.

Mostly I was checking out locations for work though and among others, I was guided through the hotel. They really wooed me. They put Swedish stuff on all the screens in all the hotel and even set out a real Dala horse! Also, they have really nice wallpaper.

A very pleasant surprise upon coming home was finding my tax refund statement. I will finally get a wardorbe! You can tell, my dreams are flying high. Other people want to travel the world, I just want to store my clothes.

Tomorrow, I am flying to Gothenburg and as usual, I haven’t packed yet. But I’m looking forward!

Gerrit and me reunited, my dream, and a book I acutally bought (never buy books #library) for the holiday week

 

 

Nine reasons to read The Goldfinch

goldfinch-detail

The Persians say, a good book is like a garden you carry in your pocket. I just finished a book like that, a book that has been so highly acclaimed that I started reading it sceptically. Whenever something has been talked up, I expect it to not bear up to the enormous expectations created. But “The Goldfinch”, the book that took Donna Tartt ten years to write, did not disappoint.(After finishing it, I am not at all surprised it took a decade to write.)

It is her unique combination of details (which make everything seem more real), in depth research (she must have spent months or years with art historians and antiquity experts) and unerring linguistic mastery to describe feelings and situations. While reading the book, I frequently stopped to jot down the way she had formulated things, something that happens very rarely with me.

Ten reasons that should convince you to spend reading time with “The Goldfinch”

  1. Donna Tartt describes adaquaetly what it is like to start noticing that you miss a deeper connection with some people.

But those sparkling blue shallows – so enticing at first glance – had not yet graded into depths, so that sometimes I got the disconcerting sensation of wading around in knee-high waters hoping to step into a drop-off, a place deep enough to swim.

2. She envisions what comes after death in the most beautful way.

But maybe that’s what’s waiting for us at the end of the journey, a majesty unimaginable until the very moment we find ourselves walking through the doors of it, what we find ourselves gazing at in astonishment when God finally takes His hand off our eyes and says: Look!

3. She elegantly phrases the fugacity of superficial beauty.

[He said] The pursuit of pure beauty is a trap, a fast track to bitterness and sorrow, that beauty had to be wedded to something more meaninful.

4. Even the quotes she picks from others to open her chapters are eye-opening true.

We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves. (F. de la Roucefoucauld)

5. She touches the reader with her relatable protagonist and expresses his deepest pain gracefully.

When I lost her, I lost sight of any landmark that might have led me someplace happier, to some more populated or congengial life.

For in the deepest, most unshakeable part of myself, reason was useless. She was the missing kingdom,the unbruised part of myself I’d lost with my mother.

6. She provides you with excellent compliments to use for the next person you like.

Everything about her was a snowstorm of fascination.

7. She portrays her heros in a way that you see them right before your inner eye because you know someone who is just that person.

Everything came alive in her company; she cast a charmed theatrical light about her so that to see anything through her eyes was to see it in brighter colors than ordinary.

My standoffish dad had hated this about her – her tendency to engage in conversation with waitresses, doormen, the wheezy old gus at the dry cleaner’s.

8. She gives you orientation for life.

That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway; wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open.

9. She has the awareness for history worked out and she knows how to convey it to you.

It is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch. […] And I add my own love to the history of people who have loved beautiful things, and looked out for them, and pulled them from the fire and sought them when they were lost and tried to preserve them and save them while passing them along literally from hand to hand, singing out brilliantly from the wreck of time to the next generation of lovers, and the next.

Do yourself a favor and read “The Goldfinch”!

 

Divertissement

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Opposite my office there is a lot of mysterious & going on

Tonight, my friend Tabea from Uppsala graced my apartment with her presence. We talked non-stop and the fact that I did not take a single photo speaks in favor of our encounter. She also brought me the two items I covet most from Sweden: Mavala Las Vegas nail polish (can’t find the same color in Germany) and my women’s magazine amelia. Ah, I’m thrilled – I feel like I’d have to cancel work tomorrow to delve into the magazine (and to watch the rest of “The Good Wife” and German “Ku’damm 56” which is being recommended to me from all sides, and of course continue reading the compelling “Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt which keeps me awake at night).

Why, no I wouldn’t cancel work when the week is so short anyway with Easter coming up. Today I sent invitations to twelve sister organisations for Swedish young professionals all over the world to invite them to our jubilee event I am planning. So interesting to learn where there are Swedish representations and what they do and to send out letters (remember I am obsessed with snail mail) to exotic cities and obscure street names. Then there is also more interns to meet and we’ve got an early fika tomorrow (as Friday is a holiday). So of course my feet will hit the ground with anticipation tomorrow morning.

Library Love

The impressive Stockholm Central Library (Photo Simon Paulin/imagebank sweden)

The impressive Stockholm Central Library (Photo Simon Paulin/imagebank sweden)

Remember how I suffered from the excruciating heat during my first weeks in Dizzel? Well, it seems that this town only offers two kinds of weather: burning heat or pouring rain. In the last week, I came home rain-drenched twice. And when I say rain-drenched, I mean completely wet to the bone.

Raininess does add to the mysfaktor/Gemütlichkeitsfaktor though – if you’re inside with a lit candle and a hot cup of tea. And – yes, a good book. Yesterday, I registered at the public library.

Libraries and me have history. We go way back. Some of my very first memories is the children’s section at Heidelberg’s public library. There was a dragon of some sort and a kind of reading arena (do I remember this correctly, mom?) and it was wonderful there.

Actually, I’ve gone through various public libaries in my life. In the small village where I went to primary school, I read through all the shelves. (They were rather limited numbers of shelves, to be fair.) In the small town we moved next, I was a frequent visitor in both the school library (with great enthusiasm, I read all of “Malory Towers” (“Dolly” in German) and “St Clare’s” (“Hanni und Nanni”) and we reenacted their Midnight Parties) and the so-called Catholic library (where the biography of a terrorist made the biggest impression on me).

Düsseldorf Library

Düsseldorf Library

As I moved to Bremen to study, I got to enjoy a large and most beautifully designed library. When my mom came to visit, we would plan spending an afternoon there, leaving with heaps of books. After relocating to Stockholm, I devoured all the Swedish literature I could finally access so easily. The Stockholm Central Library is a piece of architecural art, and the branches in the parts of the city are so many that it was never more than 10 minutes to walk to a library. They even have a library in the subway – so convenient! There, you could take “literature to go” with you in a paper bag that had “crime” or “love” written on it and preselected books in it.

Graduation Day, me in front of the Carolina Rediviva

Graduation Day, me in front of the Carolina Rediviva

In Uppsala, the dignified National and University Library Carolina Rediviva became my second home and I wrote my entire thesis in the cozy Karin Boye Library. Each Monday night, I would go to the local public library close to my student dorm and meet Janne and Britt, two eldery Swedes, who would practice language skills with me. The concept is called MedsprÃ¥k and the library kindly hosted it. (I also took the opportunity to borrow a children’s book series on Queen Kristina there.)

Only in Hamburg, I never set foot into the library. In retrospective, this worries me because I kind of believe in the (allegedly Chinese) saying, “After three day without reading, one’s speech becomes tasteless.” I hope no one was bothered by my potentially tasteless speech.

So yesterday I took the important step to register at the Düsseldorf Library. It is squeezed between the main railway station, some weird sculptures, and the Consulate of Greece. I had very little time (and actually the last book of Moberg’s distinguished “Emigrants” series left to finish) but I remembered hearing recommendations about Donna Tartt who only publishes one book per decade and blows the critics away every time.

So now it’s me, the rain and “The little friend” for October.