There absolutely must be an easier way to create a stamp effect, but I went about it the hard way. Learning experiences! Anyway, Freising is a small town near Munich, and it has a lot of bears, and a lot of trees, though one of those is real and the other is not (sure is hard to hide from hungry bears behind fake trees, but at least it’s never boring). 
Fernweh Postal Service

There absolutely must be an easier way to create a stamp effect, but I went about it the hard way. Learning experiences! Anyway, Freising is a small town near Munich, and it has a lot of bears, and a lot of trees, though one of those is real and the other is not (sure is hard to hide from hungry bears behind fake trees, but at least it’s never boring). 

Fernweh Postal Service

So sehen Sieger aus!

"Dammit!" I yelled, watching the crowds of students stream into the ZHG to watch the match on a huge screen. The tickets were sold out, and it was raining. Hard. One hour until kickoff.

"Where u at?" Simon texted me.

"Raging in futility that there are no ZHG tickets left. You?"

"Got some of the last seats at Deja Vu. No guarantees, but come down if you like."

It seemed like a better option than sitting in the library or my room feeling sorry for myself, so I hoisted my umbrella and waded through the people streaming in every direction, decked out in black, red, yellow and white. The screen at Deja was outside, with a couple of large umbrellas in front of it. The rain was getting heavier.

"I think there’s a seat over there?" said Simon. One of his friends pulled it in further under the shade cloth. I sat down, tucked my still-open umbrella into the crook of my arm to deflect the rain still pelting over my right shoulder, and propped a third umbrella at my feet to stop the splash back from the water hitting the cobblestones. The situation called for a beer.

In the 84th minute, disaster struck. The power went out, and the TV went black. Almost without pause, we leapt up and sprinted across the street to Monro’s Park, and I climbed up onto a pool table to peer over the heads of the crowd. Still no goals. The 90th minute came and went, and we went back outside to find Simon’s friends.

"Wo geht ihr hin?"

"Nach Hause! Es ist trocken, und gibt’s keine Verzögerung-" (Deja Vu’s screen was five seconds behind Monro’s) "- kommt ihr mit?"

Simon turned to me. “Shall we go?”

I shrugged, and we ran for the car. Ten minutes and one hectic spin through the city later, the radio was announcing a near miss by the German team, and we spilled out of the car, pelting across the road, through a car park and up four flights of stairs into their apartment. Still no goals. And then! Götze in the 113th minute! Torrrrr! The game was over, and Simon and I went out into the street, to find-

… Silence? There were cars honking in the distance, but people walking down the street seemed so sedate. “What the hell?” We passed ZHG again, the students inside all cheering, but the streets continued to be eerily calm. As we approached the city centre, the cars became noisier and more reckless, and more cheers echoed from the buildings. And at Gänsliesel a small crowd was forming. Smaller than expected.

"I know what it is," Simon said suddenly, "First time in 24 years there’s been a reason to watch the ceremony!"

Sure enough, the crowds started building. “WELTMEISTER! WELTMEISTER!” Several people climbed on to the statue. “HINSETZEN! HINSETZEN!” The crowd crouched down, building up a cheer to scream “HUMBA HUMBA HUMBA TÄTÄRÄÄÄ!!”

I got a phone call from Morgane - Allison had lost her keys and was coming to find me. She’s gonna be so mad, I thought, it’s chaos. From out of a flurry of camera flashes, Miao leapt forth to hug me, and we rejoined the yelling. “SO SEHEN SIEGER AUS, SHA LA LA LA LA!” Several people were now actually clustered on top of the statue. Fireworks burst in the sky. “OLE, OLE, OLE OLE OLEEEE! SUPER DEUTSCHLAND, SUPER DEUTSCHLAND, SUPER DEUTSCHLAND EYYY OLE!”

The rain had started again, and nobody cared. I fell asleep to the sounds of jubilant singing.

Göttingen by night is a strange creature. She can change quite suddenly, from thriving, bustling city centre to wild, drunken circus ring, to silence and emptiness so still it seems almost artificial. When I walk through the stillness I experience an odd sensation that hovers between proprietary elation and the nagging sense that my life here isn’t real. I begin remembering the long months I wasn’t here, when I spent hours willing myself back, building the streets in my mind. It’s my town, but our relationship changes all the time. I don’t live out near the forest any more; I’m right in the middle of it all, and sometimes the city walls seem protective, and at other times restrictive. These streets have been the stage for a hundred overwrought dramas, a thousand joyful moments; they have been the backdrop to dreams and hopes and broken hearts. They’ve been home to so many of my nearest and dearest, who are always coming and leaving and moving on. This is my seventeenth month living here, and yet so many of the most important twists and turns in my adult life happened here.

I don’t know when I’ll be leaving, and I don’t know if I’ll come back when I do. I don’t know how I’ll feel about this place in two months, or two years for that matter. I doubt it will ever stop being my town, but things change.

What a very strange day it’s been. I met Simon at Uni for lunch - he’d just arrived back from Berlin, and I overslept my usual lunchtime with the Erasmus peeps thanks to a substantial dose of anaesthetic from my dentist this morning. No sooner had we taken out coffees outside to sit on the platz than it started to… rain? I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the rain until I realised it was actually snow, or something halfway between snow and hail. Which was bizarre considering that it had been mild and sunny only moments before. 

On our way back into the city - having taken shelter from the snow/hail (snail?) in the office for a while - we happened upon a black and white cat sitting in front of the Aula looking rather confused, possibly also as a result of the weather. We could relate at that point, being somewhat dazed ourselves. The cat seemed very affectionate and stayed with us while we tried to figure out what to do with him, and passersby watched us curiously. An old man on a bicycle wordlessly handed us a packet of cat treats to feed him. In an amazing stroke of luck, a girl walked past who worked at a cat shelter in a nearby village. She went to fetch her car, and Simon asked in the nearby shops for a cardboard box big enough to comfortably carry the cat. Unfortunately we managed to find the one cat without a fascination with cardboard boxes, and by the time Simon carried him to the car the box was shredded. So the girl, Laura, drove while Simon and I did our best to keep the cat calm and still and generally out of the windscreen in a very tiny car. I received a couple of nice scratches for my efforts but eventually he calmed down enough to sit still in my arms for the remainder of the journey. 

At the cat shelter they confirmed that he had no chip and in fact hadn’t been castrated, and so was probably a street cat. They seemed very taken with him though, so I hope he finds a good home. I couldn’t help but think how happy Phoebe would have been with the whole adventure, even if it was conducted almost entirely in German.

What a very strange day it’s been. I met Simon at Uni for lunch - he’d just arrived back from Berlin, and I overslept my usual lunchtime with the Erasmus peeps thanks to a substantial dose of anaesthetic from my dentist this morning. No sooner had we taken out coffees outside to sit on the platz than it started to… rain? I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the rain until I realised it was actually snow, or something halfway between snow and hail. Which was bizarre considering that it had been mild and sunny only moments before.

On our way back into the city - having taken shelter from the snow/hail (snail?) in the office for a while - we happened upon a black and white cat sitting in front of the Aula looking rather confused, possibly also as a result of the weather. We could relate at that point, being somewhat dazed ourselves. The cat seemed very affectionate and stayed with us while we tried to figure out what to do with him, and passersby watched us curiously. An old man on a bicycle wordlessly handed us a packet of cat treats to feed him. In an amazing stroke of luck, a girl walked past who worked at a cat shelter in a nearby village. She went to fetch her car, and Simon asked in the nearby shops for a cardboard box big enough to comfortably carry the cat. Unfortunately we managed to find the one cat without a fascination with cardboard boxes, and by the time Simon carried him to the car the box was shredded. So the girl, Laura, drove while Simon and I did our best to keep the cat calm and still and generally out of the windscreen in a very tiny car. I received a couple of nice scratches for my efforts but eventually he calmed down enough to sit still in my arms for the remainder of the journey.

At the cat shelter they confirmed that he had no chip and in fact hadn’t been castrated, and so was probably a street cat. They seemed very taken with him though, so I hope he finds a good home. I couldn’t help but think how happy Phoebe would have been with the whole adventure, even if it was conducted almost entirely in German.

I love springtime in Germany. The Uni only looks like this for a week or two before the fragile blossoms are blown off by rain or wind, but during that time it’s just such a happy place to be.

I’ve been woefully unproductive since I got back to Göttingen, though admittedly there have been a few obstacles to my getting anything done (I’m looking at you, computer and lack of student account), but I feel like I’m probably ready to sink my teeth into some work again. It’s all just a matter of adjusting back to better habits.

The other day I got a message from the youngest bru and it made me really really miss him, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how proud I am of what an awesome and resilient person he is and how lucky I am to have such cool siblings. It’s hard because although I’ve been lucky enough to have both Deks and Beth visit me over here (and now Bethany is living close by) I know that to see Jem I’m really going to have to get back to Australia, and I get sad sometimes about not being around enough for a long time now. I trust in him though, and his ability to tackle the things life throws at him with fortitude and self-assurance. So shout out to my sibs if you guys ever read this thing (probably not?), you guys are super cool and I love you.

Today:
- People were very cool about letting me join a class trip even though I wasn’t in the class (thanks to Allison, who lent me her identity for the day while she was studying)
- We saw bears and wolves and raccoons and peacocks and a snail-hunting-task-force trio of ducks, and Lauren gave her substandard apple to the cockatiels
- Jim started a game that involved a bunch of us standing in a circle and falling over like seven year olds (and I accidentally unleashed my deadly combat skillz on Matteo)
- I remembered how to play that cowboys game we used to play in Berlin, which is still just as much fun today
- Francesca, Morgane, Eva and I broke out in spontaneous song more than once (zigga-zig ahh)
- I learned a bunch of new stuff at the Grenzlandmuseum at Eichsfeld (what is the environmental legacy of Germany’s former East-West border? What are stringently-enforced borders like around the world, and how do they affect those who live near them?)
- I met a girl who did her Erasmus in Uppsala and we enthused about Sweden for a while
- It was cold and we were all exhausted by the end of the day and I wish I’d taken a few more photos but it was still just super great

Today:

- People were very cool about letting me join a class trip even though I wasn’t in the class (thanks to Allison, who lent me her identity for the day while she was studying)

- We saw bears and wolves and raccoons and peacocks and a snail-hunting-task-force trio of ducks, and Lauren gave her substandard apple to the cockatiels

- Jim started a game that involved a bunch of us standing in a circle and falling over like seven year olds (and I accidentally unleashed my deadly combat skillz on Matteo)

- I remembered how to play that cowboys game we used to play in Berlin, which is still just as much fun today

- Francesca, Morgane, Eva and I broke out in spontaneous song more than once (zigga-zig ahh)

- I learned a bunch of new stuff at the Grenzlandmuseum at Eichsfeld (what is the environmental legacy of Germany’s former East-West border? What are stringently-enforced borders like around the world, and how do they affect those who live near them?)

- I met a girl who did her Erasmus in Uppsala and we enthused about Sweden for a while

- It was cold and we were all exhausted by the end of the day and I wish I’d taken a few more photos but it was still just super great

Look I drew marker- sketches of cool places in my home town (Uppsala).

Yesterday I missed Uppsala quite a bit, which sounds fine and normal except that I’ve never really missed anywhere while living in Göttingen before. People, sure, all the time - but never a place, not quite like this. It’s pretty nice to be able to tell people here that I’m studying my Masters in Sweden, not Sydney, and every time I do I feel a little more attached to it. I’ve always felt like I belonged in Gö, right from Day 1, but now Uppsala feels a bit like a home too.

Fortunately I’m getting some Humbariffic visitors in a few weeks and all will be well. Also these drawings are completely awesome, I recognise pretty much every location!

Verse 4 – The City Is Sold
I.
It was last year’s top destination
Travel guide trendy, diamond rough
Abandoned fronts house pop-up stores and
We campaign for the rights of small bars.
I missed the festival again. 
The Latec building is rebuilt into apartments
And across the road, the Largest 
KFC in the Southern Hemisphere, mostly glass and painted steel.
And this, this. THIS IS NOT ART. 
II. 
It was so close, and what a story it’d make –
Beat the Germans in the football, and beat
Austerity in the voting booths.
But the numbers fell short. The numbers are always
Falling short. And everything is numbers. 
You’ve got to make them up somehow
Pile them high to staunch the wound.
You don’t like it? Take a number.
Βασανιζομαι. 
III.
It was only this September
Finally sold off to developers
The banks will build hotels and it’s just one more
Street in this city, correctly labelled.
I found their small website, asking everyone
To stave off the end with their bank accounts
Save the moment. HOW LONG IS NOW?
Give us one last push, a gasp, grasping –
They’ve stopped writing since it happened.

Verse 4 – The City Is Sold

I.

It was last year’s top destination

Travel guide trendy, diamond rough

Abandoned fronts house pop-up stores and

We campaign for the rights of small bars.

I missed the festival again.

The Latec building is rebuilt into apartments

And across the road, the Largest

KFC in the Southern Hemisphere, mostly glass and painted steel.

And this, this. THIS IS NOT ART.


 

II.

It was so close, and what a story it’d make –

Beat the Germans in the football, and beat

Austerity in the voting booths.

But the numbers fell short. The numbers are always

Falling short. And everything is numbers.

You’ve got to make them up somehow

Pile them high to staunch the wound.

You don’t like it? Take a number.

Βασανιζομαι.


 

III.

It was only this September

Finally sold off to developers

The banks will build hotels and it’s just one more

Street in this city, correctly labelled.

I found their small website, asking everyone

To stave off the end with their bank accounts

Save the moment. HOW LONG IS NOW?

Give us one last push, a gasp, grasping –

They’ve stopped writing since it happened.

Verse 2 – The City Stirs
I.
They started a festival
They called it THIS IS NOT ART
The Latec building mouldered, but now
Its tower no longer warned unwary wanderers;
It buzzed like neon shouting, saying
“Come! Explore the corners where the weirdlings hide, and see
What we’ve been hiding all these years,”
Dust lifted on the streets
And began to dance. 
II.
They showed me the murals where
The boy was gunned down in the streets of Exarcheia
Setting the city on fire, only three years before,
And the embers were never quite doused.
A man muffled my camera, suspicious of police
In the garden they’d wrested from the city
Intended for a parking lot
Festooned with colour
And written small, βασανιζομαι. 
III.
They claimed it after the Mauerfall
A brave new age and a bloodless chaos
It had been a place of pain and purgatory, but now
It filled with artists
A city ecstatic in this moment – 
HOW LONG IS NOW?
You should have seen it then, they say
In its heyday, it housed the Zeitgeist
And we were living an infinity.

Verse 2 – The City Stirs

I.

They started a festival

They called it THIS IS NOT ART

The Latec building mouldered, but now

Its tower no longer warned unwary wanderers;

It buzzed like neon shouting, saying

“Come! Explore the corners where the weirdlings hide, and see

What we’ve been hiding all these years,”

Dust lifted on the streets

And began to dance.


 

II.

They showed me the murals where

The boy was gunned down in the streets of Exarcheia

Setting the city on fire, only three years before,

And the embers were never quite doused.

A man muffled my camera, suspicious of police

In the garden they’d wrested from the city

Intended for a parking lot

Festooned with colour

And written small, βασανιζομαι.


 

III.

They claimed it after the Mauerfall

A brave new age and a bloodless chaos

It had been a place of pain and purgatory, but now

It filled with artists

A city ecstatic in this moment –

HOW LONG IS NOW?

You should have seen it then, they say

In its heyday, it housed the Zeitgeist

And we were living an infinity.

Verse 1 – The City Speaks In Its Own Voice
I.
I grew up in the shadow of ten-foot high letters
Plastered on the flaking shell
Of the empty Latec building at the edge of town
That said:
THIS IS NOT ART
And marked the entrance 
To the dereliction of a failed city centre;
Paint-smoked windows and For Sale signs forming the bunting
Along a parade ground of unpaid rent.II.
I first walked the streets of Athens in the heat of a summer delayed,
Through the fading light as dusk fell.
My German visa brought only friendly remarks from
Airport officials, customs officers
But on the winter walls beneath new “WE BUY GOLD” stores
Was scrawled βασανιζομαι.
They told me it meant suffering
And one girl collected photos of them
Until her phone was stolen. 
III.
I was in Tacheles the night before they closed the garden
My camera grasping last glances at artworks
Before they were seized by the morning
By the Polizei 
By the need for Legitimacy
And the face on the wall asked:
HOW LONG IS NOW?
And everyone knew that it wasn’t very long
But maybe forever.

Verse 1 – The City Speaks In Its Own Voice

I.

I grew up in the shadow of ten-foot high letters

Plastered on the flaking shell

Of the empty Latec building at the edge of town

That said:

THIS IS NOT ART

And marked the entrance

To the dereliction of a failed city centre;

Paint-smoked windows and For Sale signs forming the bunting

Along a parade ground of unpaid rent.



II.

I first walked the streets of Athens in the heat of a summer delayed,

Through the fading light as dusk fell.

My German visa brought only friendly remarks from

Airport officials, customs officers

But on the winter walls beneath new “WE BUY GOLD” stores

Was scrawled βασανιζομαι.

They told me it meant suffering

And one girl collected photos of them

Until her phone was stolen.


 

III.

I was in Tacheles the night before they closed the garden

My camera grasping last glances at artworks

Before they were seized by the morning

By the Polizei

By the need for Legitimacy

And the face on the wall asked:

HOW LONG IS NOW?

And everyone knew that it wasn’t very long

But maybe forever.

A New Project

So the next few posts are going to be a series that I recently submitted for uni… and it’s poetry. GUYS. DON’T FREAK OUT. Poetry is not always terrible and boring! 

These particular bits of poetry are about three different cities that are very important to me - Newcastle (Australia), Athens and Berlin - and how a piece of graffiti in each of those cities tells the story of how it’s changed in recent years.

I submitted it to my teacher under the title “The Words of the City” but I don’t really like it, it was more a WIP placeholder than anything… But there are four verses, and each verse has its own title, and I like those so I’ll leave them in place. 

(EDIT: Pronunciation guide, for reference - βασανίζομαι = va-sa-NI-zo-me) 

P.S. Thanks to the ever-talented and awesome Ele for her help in editing these, and to Miki and Lisa for reading them and making sure they didn’t suck.