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Friday, August 31, 2012

Ich liebe meine Cousine


 "Cousin to cousin we’ll always be, special friends from the same family tree." 

My wonderful cousin Candice is getting married this weekend to her fantastic love, James. I'm so happy and delighted for them as they start this new chapter in their lives :) Welcome to the family, James!! We love you!!


"Cousins are many. Best friends are few. What a rare delight to find both in you."

I'm incredibly grateful for the special bond I have with my cousin, and that she has been so understanding and supportive in my desire and need to move to Europe. She is an avid traveler herself, has seen so much of the world, and will continue to do so with her husband-to-be. She is always there for me, and I am always there for her too.


We grew up together, we understand each other, and have an equal love of all things nostalgic and kitschy. Anything that reminds us of our German influenced childhood, hodge podge antique stores that feel like our Grandmother Meta's home, which we spent so much time in, Garden Gnomes, Julie Andrews, and so on. I know our Grandmother would be very happy for her and James, as will all her family that are with us and watching over us. The bond is deeper than words can describe, and I care about her so much!

"Cousins are usually the first friends we have as children. No one will ever understand your crazy family like your cousins do." 

I can hear my Mother asking me "What do you mean our family is crazy!?". Well Mom, what family isn't?
Can you tell we're related?? :)


Have a fantastic wedding day, Candice and James!! I'm sending you a giant hug and kiss from Germany, best wishes, so much love, and CONGRATULATIONS!!!



(See you on SKYPE soon!)


Monday, August 13, 2012

Guten Abend :)



First, I took Orlando...

Now, I take BERLIN!

What can I say? I like my striped dress.

---

Photo: Mona Salem


Guten Abend :) This past week I had my first public performance, with the wonderful Coco Clownesse, at the Eschschloraque, here in Berlin. The Eschschloraque is something special. It exists in the Hackesher Markt area of Mitte, a now higher end tourist area, but it holds true to it's punk roots. It's an original, and a special landmark.






Coco Clownesse and I, back stage at the Eschschloraque!
I admit, I have NEVER played my Guerrini accordion in a smoking environment. Smoke machines and cigarette smoke is terrible for the instrument, and in Berlin there is a 50/50 chance that you will be in a smokey bar or club when you go out. This was one of them. Luckily, I didn't find the stage environment full of smoke, and I'm happy to report that my accordion is in good health.

The audience was fantastic, they were very engaged and loving the entertainment. I had a great time, and performing with Coco was a pleasure :)



---

So, after heaving my accordion around in it's soft gig bag, on my back, I decided it was time to get a rolling cart for it. I had a simple one back in North America, cost me about $10 at Walmart, but have discovered them to be quite pricey here in Berlin. I finally got one, biting the bullet at Karstadt for 35€. There were ones at Ikea for 9€, but I didn't really want to make the trip to Ikea, so I spent too much money out of laziness.

My friend Jamie made a comment on a Facebook post I made - when I was asking Berliners where I could buy one of these, about how I should opt for the one with shock absorption (around 75€!!) for the sake of the accordion being up against the rocky sidewalks of Berlin. They're are many charming cobble-stoned sidewalks here, which are ever so tricky to maneuver in high heels, and I manage to avoid falling on my face - at least once a week if I don't watch where I'm stepping - while I'm wearing simple flats.

I got my cart on the road one day, and oh my GAWD was it more brutal than just carrying my accordion. Navigating over the sidewalks, the VERY bumpy stoned sidewalks. Didn't I just blow 200€ on repairs after bringing her over on a plane? YA. So I then became extremely paranoid that I would do MORE damage, thinking about Jamie's comment about shock absorption, and so I returned the rolly-cart.

Carry the beast. End of story.

---


I moved all the way to Germany to find a Canadian photographer, from Whistler, British Columbia, to do a photo shoot with!

Matt Walker had scouted out an outstanding location to do a photo shoot at. It was at this abandoned warehouse in east Berlin, which was once an ice factory. It's now drenched in graffiti, broken glass, random junk spread out everywhere, and even though it's 'abandoned' it has a few squatters living in it and seems to be on a tourist map of some kind, since quite a few hipsters passed through this massive building while we were there.




 

Matt was awesome to work with, and very understanding about me getting quite squeamish in the environment we were in. I have a feeling we got some great shots out of the shoot! He has now left Berlin, and is spending a week traveling a little bit before he returns to British Columbia. I wish him the best of luck with his photography, and he'd better return to Berlin at some point! There are curry wurst and Ernuss Flips waiting for ya!

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Yesterday I performed at my first wedding reception here in Berlin. It took place in the Volkspark Friedrichain, at the Friedrichain Pavilion.


Photo from www.yelp.de
The parks in Berlin are so enchanting, and this venue was perfect for a wedding reception. Friends of the bride and groom got in touch with me and hired me to perform, and I was honored to be there :)

I came in full cabaret/sexpot attire (as requested), had a Grandma check out my butt, and was tickled to see the little kids flock to me and my accordion. I guess the sequin booty shorts can't disguise the children's performer within?

At one point the entire wedding party and guests gathered on a big grassy area, just beyond the Pavilion for a big group wedding shot. It reminded me of some of the old family photographs I've seen in my German Grandmother's photo albums. Everyone gathered around the bride and groom, sitting, standing, here and there. It was classic.

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Living in Schöneberg has many perks. It's a beautiful part of Berlin, I'm situated near the necessities like u-bahn stations, my bank, grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, great new friends that live nearby and the Greek Party night at Prinzknecht. This bar has theme parties, which many clubs and bars do here in Berlin. This night consisted of fake 50€ strewn about, a parade of Nana Mouskouri's marching through the place, and a mass plate smashing extravaganza. I will return soon enough.

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One more thing before I end this week's blog:




Who ever invented these incredibly joyful wafers of caramel heaven will receive a punch in the face from me. They're beyond delicious.

When I bring these insane cookies up to people, they say, "Mmm ya, they're Dutch hey?"

The Dutch have a secret weapon: KARAMELL WAFFELN

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Restoring my creative soul


So much so much so much is going on... it's hard to update because EVERYTHING is happening ALL THE TIME for me. I will say this: My creative soul is being restored, and I feel like I am home here in Berlin :-)



I played at a BBQ staff party out in Brandenburg, and it was fantastic! I love riding the trains here, and getting to visit the country side of Germany was such a treat. The home that the BBQ was at was an old stone school house. BBQ's in Germany consist of at least 4 different kinds of potato salad, pickled herring, plenty of wursts, and pork chops. Mmmmmm!


As I said above, I love riding the trains. They're so efficient, and even within the efficiency the German's complain. They think waiting 5 minutes for the next U-Bahn is terrible, and here I'm happy to know "Oh wow, I only have to wait 5 minutes!". Most people have a bicycle, and insist it's the best way to see the city. I know they're right, but I'm just hesitant. I had a couple bad falls on the one I had in Victoria, BC, Canada. It was a great bike though, and I ended up selling it to the wicked Witch of the West Coast.

Collaborations are on the rise. I'm tapping into many sides of what I enjoy playing, and performing, and am meeting great musicians and performers here to focus on projects with. 

Photo: Mona Salem
I am very excited to be performing with my Burlesque friend Coco Clownesse at Das Eschschloraque Rümschrümp on Tuesday, August 7th, 2012. Show starts around 11pm, 3 Euros. LOTS OF FUN!

Photo: Pierre Joël Becker



I have had a bit of modeling work since I've arrived in Berlin. Both for life-drawing classes, as well as one-on-one with artists (photographers, painters, drawers). The creative passion and expression that is living within all the artists, musicians, performers that I meet here is feeding me and my soul in heap-fulls. Every day I am having the most fulfilling conversations, seeing interesting streets, looking at beautiful buildings, people, fashion, food, gardens. People are hungry for more information, to share information, to learn more, to discuss, to find out what you think, why you think that, how you think that - and what they think of that.












Something was missing for me in North America. I realize now that I was severely bored. I thought it was maybe depression, or anxiety, or how life just was and that I would live a life of mundane drudgery - but always felt like there was more to see. Well of course there's always more to see!

I felt like a dog that wasn't being let out enough, and as a result was gnawing on his own leg. Berlin is like my dog park!

The old ladies of Berlin remind me of my German relatives. They're little old ladies, but they know how to grow a garden and are not going to take any of your crap. Actually, I would say no one here is going to take any of your crap, which is also a huge reason why I feel at home :) The North American culture seems to have to be treated with kid gloves, and there's not a lot of time for that here.

 

I've developed Berlin-Feet, which means they're calloused, sore, sometimes have blisters, but they are seeing everything. A true test of a lady is if you can navigate the bumpy, cobble-stoned streets of Berlin in heels. Oh yes, I can!

Berlin-Feet are not to be confused with Disney-Feet. They're much different. They're sore, and they're effected by wearing wobbly Mary-Jane's with nylons every day in 35'C heat, and walking on hot backstage pavement. The sole's of your feet just peel off - and then for some reason I had developed weird little red sores, like corns. Ugh, so gross. That's probably the least of the foot problems that can occur there. I knew others with bunions, and deformed toes, and permanent problems from their performance shoes. On the bright side, the Vietnamese nail spa's were EVERY WHERE in Orlando, and I would often treat my sore feet to a fantastic pedicure.


I'm making some great friends here, some are German, some are English, Canadian, American, Lebanese, French, Spanish, Dominican, and with all of them we're enjoying food, music and art together.










I HAD to buy this bag of crisps. Being an accordionist, I personally have lost some steam when it comes to seeing imagery of an accordion. It doesn't faze me too much. But seeing a guy playing on a bag of Dijon flavored chips? Right on!

By the way, the picture is flipped. The cords should be played with the left hand.









Enough about food!



 







What am I up to? Well, I live in the gay district of Berlin, known as Schöneberg. I live with a fabulous tranny named Kaspar, and through her I am meeting some absolutely wonderful friends. Through the modeling work I am meeting some fantastic artists that have become fast friends, and the same goes for the music work I'm focusing on.

I go to clubs, Kit Kat, Tresor, SchwuZ, B-flat, Kookaburra, and have yet to see more of them... private parties, dinner parties, and plenty of restaurants, cafes, and imbiss. I ride the trains, people stare at me, I stare at them, there's always a homeless guy trying to sell a German newspaper to us on every ride, or an obnoxious amplified back-track with a melodica or trumpet played along to it. "Oh when the saints" doesn't go over too well in a German U-Bahn. There's public urination, and lots of smoking, people walking about with a beer in hand, very cute/smart dogs and they're owners, bicycles, petite cars that go FAST, gardens, graffiti, massive kebab rotisseries, all ages, all ethnicities, religions, and so on. 

I will see doppelgangers from time to time. A lot of the women my Mother's age look like my Mom, or how she dresses, sometimes the young men look like my brother in certain ways, I see my theater friend, Rod Peter in a lot of the guys here, and my musician friend Marcus Hissen as well. Being German, Hungarian and Swedish I am able to pinpoint the physical characteristics of the people around me, and what makes someone look a certain nationality.

I hear German around me constantly, or other languages, probably Turkish. I try to understand German, as my Mother's side is German and I grew up hearing it around me and took 2 years of it in University, but I'm planning to take some courses to refresh myself. At this point I understand half of what I hear, and I'm too timid to reply at times because it's all too fast for me. I had two little cute girls come up to me in a park a week or so ago, and talk to me in German and I could talk to them - so I guess I can speak children's German. I'd say I'm doing pretty good with bad broken German though. I've been able to get accordion repairs done, buy a pillow and case (this was hard), monthly U-Bahn pass, register myself as a resident, get a bank account, ask for directions (every day), order food or drinks, tell a taxi driver where I live, and..... BE SNOW WHITE:


PRINCE CHARMING!!!

Schneewittchen's beste freundin

Hallo?


 Yes, life is very interesting here :)


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