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.

13. We Used To WaitI write more letters since I went away - while I was there, and since I came back, too. I’ve found you write different things in different mediums; you tell different stories in letters than you might tell via the internet or over the phone. I love snail mail, there’s something so much more special about having something solid which you can shape and hold and touch travel from one place to another.[The Suburbs Project] 

13. We Used To Wait


I write more letters since I went away - while I was there, and since I came back, too. I’ve found you write different things in different mediums; you tell different stories in letters than you might tell via the internet or over the phone. I love snail mail, there’s something so much more special about having something solid which you can shape and hold and touch travel from one place to another.

[The Suburbs Project

10. Month of MayIt seems almost too appropriate that May 2011 was one of the most eventful and drama-filled month of my life to date. Hijinks, shenanigans, betrayals, victories, scandals, reconciliations, clandestine happenings, you name it we’ve got it. Also we had a lot of picnics.[The Suburbs Project] 

10. Month of May


It seems almost too appropriate that May 2011 was one of the most eventful and drama-filled month of my life to date. Hijinks, shenanigans, betrayals, victories, scandals, reconciliations, clandestine happenings, you name it we’ve got it. Also we had a lot of picnics.

[The Suburbs Project