1 Year Berliversary

I just know that someone is going to set fire to these, or poop on them, or let their chihuahua dig them up.

Welcome back! I say that to myself, of course, since I can only assume that during that epic hiatus of non-blogging all of my three regular readers have since packed up and gone back to Buzzfeed where they belong. These last few weeks, in between the infinite crises at work, dragging my unwilling corpse to the gym, fulfilling possibly unwise promises, cultivating my garden and trying to beat back the wild, encroaching mess in my flat with a stick, the odd half-hour of peace has been spent in a blur of vegetative unconsciousness. With tea. But in the time I was away from GMB, May the 1st passed, and that meant something special: I have now been living in Berlin for a full year! My first Berliversary! For the first time, I have witnessed this city exist through 365 calendar days and transition through all four seasons. And before we launch into the second year of Guten Morgen Berlin, let me get you up to speed with some of the highlights of the last few weeks.

1. The tourism high-season kicked in with a technicolour frenzy. Suddenly there are more people going on holiday, money cows ripe for milking have entered the pasture, and various people inside and outside of my company (including some tourists themselves) have responded by removing their brains and punting them far off over the horizon. It’s my job to spend hours each day trying to keep up with the accumulating calamities that occur as people flock into capital cities hell-bent on being provided with a LOVELY TIME. 

My work has now tattooed itself onto my neurons with the viscous black ink of repeated trauma; like a sea captain who yawns as he grabs the axe to fight off yet ANOTHER angry giant sea-squid (that’s the fifth this month!), each new crisis has become, for me, simultaneously terrifying and boring. My work mobile was originally set to a very conservative ‘bbbrrrrriiinggg’ ringtone, but after a while I noticed that this high-pitched ring would pierce my ribcage like being stabbed with a dentist’s drill every time the danged thing went off. I couldn’t take the micro-heart-attack the noise used to give me, so I changed it to some crappy techno fanfare that sounds a bit like the theme tune to MarioKart, but the side-effects of this have been severe: you see, there’s a little twittery noise that plays in the background of the main melody which sounds a little bit like birds cheeping, and this now means that every time I hear birdsong the soft, undulating cloud of my thoughts immediately crystallises into a jagged splinter of anxious alertness and I clutch at the phone, muscles clenched, ready to absorb a bollocking. So that’s what work stress did to me: I now have a Pavlovian fear-response to birdsong. Thanks, Apple default ringtone options.  

2. The world’s tiniest garden has gone from strength to strength. After hours of love and scrabbling around on my knees, I’ve managed to cultivate quite an impressive little crop of luscious weeds, give or take the odd vegetable seedling trying to push its way in. It’s absolutely maddening; certain members of the community garden believe that weeds are nature’s bounty and view their flourishing mounds of dandelions as a rich harvest to be coaxed and encouraged like the hidden talents of a shy child.

For those of us who choose to actually garden our gardens, this means that every week when I return to my plot the neighbouring weeds have leapt over into my patch and manically spread into a vast pubic tangle of hostile foliage. My heart broke a couple of weeks ago when I arrived at my veg bed to see that every single one of the big, juicy pumpkin and courgette seedlings I had planted had been overrun and withered away into indistinguishable little dead wisps tied to sticks in the ground. The shards of my heart broke further when I realised that there were so very many weeds (how the hell did they grow so quickly when the other stuff only needed that long to fully die?) they would have to all be pulled out, and I would have to pull out my pepper seedlings at the same time because I have no idea what the damn hell a pepper seedling even looks like. 

Meanwhile, the vice-chairman of the community garden – one of the weed-fanciers, who simply comes to his bed to stroke the weeds with a lawn rake as if he were trying to comb them – has been aggressively emailing the rest of us for the past three weeks asking us WHEN and HOW SOON we would like to participate in the workshop he is planning to teach us all the art of making smoothies out of weeds. He is becoming increasingly aggrieved that there are so far no takers.

3. I paid actual human money for a hoover. That makes me officially an adult, now. I spent tangible currency on an item so boring that its very function anticipates its mockery (‘Hoovers suck’ ‘Yeah good one.’) simply to keep control of the inexplicably large number of tiny bits that somehow accumulate on my floor. I don’t know how this happens – when I used to sweep the floors it was a mystery where these bits were all coming from, as I find myself treating each particle with wonderment: ‘When did I last eat sesame seeds? How the heck did a dead bee get in here? This rhinestone doesn’t match any of my clothes…’ At least now I have finally been able to suck up every last fragment of spilt pretzel from a snack-related dance accident that occurred at my housewarming party.

4. My search for a decent German toothpaste continued fruitlessly. For some reason all German toothpastes feel about as effective as smearing your teeth with vaguely minty cream-cheese. I miss my old British toothpaste that was as minty as a nuclear Polo and used to scour one’s teeth down to the roots. Even the names of the toothpastes are wimpy over here: ‘Elmex’ sounds like a soothing herbal sleep aid, ‘Meridol’ sounds like the heroine of a Welsh folktale and ‘Blend-a-med’ simply doesn’t make a single whisper of sense. 

5. I collected. New stories, new recipes, new insane encounters and thousands of other things to write about now I have my mojo back. So here we go, it’s on and poppin’: Guten Morgen Berlin Season 2 is coming to your screen.

Rose T