The unpredictability of life is what I enjoy the most about it. Just imagine how utterly boring it would be if we could plan out everything in advanced and have it all fall into place just the way we want it. Where is the challenge in that? Encountering all the stumbling blocks, losses and failures along the way is precisely we develop character and strength, courage and patience – or we lose it all. It is all a matter of rolling with the punches.
My mother used to measure the prices of things in terms of chickens. If she found something a bit too expensive she would blurt out “Imagine how many chickens I could buy with that!” I have learned to live on the short -term basis and measure things in weeks, since that is all I am capable of at the moment. I call this progress, because it wasn’t too long ago it was a matter of one day after another.
Four weeks ago, (yes, four already!), I adopted Kessy. I was told that she would most likely to live only four weeks, but here we are, and she is stronger, playful, affectionate, curious, and now showing her naughty side. Call it second childhood or a second chance, either way Kessy is doing well, except when she is put in a situation she does not enjoy at all, such as grooming or bathing. Unlike Champagne, goes along with everything and even enjoys her bubble bath, Kessy is quick to snap back and show her displeasure in true Berliner style. The two cats remain a bit bewildered as to why we have to start the day in darkness, but go along and follow me around the house while I prepare breakfast for everyone, and we go about our daily grooming together. They are the perfect housemates, except for the fact that they don’t cook or clean in return, but otherwise, they don’t complain about my choice of music, movie, or even the hours I keep. When I come home from work, both cats will be waiting at the door, eager and ready to shower me with undivided attention and affection.
Champagne is used to my peculiar photography habits and probably wonders why I go out so often without her these days. But when we woke up to the full moon shining brightly before the crack of dawn the other day, she sat politely beside me and watched me photograph at the open window in my nightgown at -2C. It was a sight to behold and I would have missed it completely had I not been already up at that ungodly hour to get ready for work. For the past years I have been chasing blue hour after sunset, but blue hour right before dawn is just as fascinating, if only it weren’t so darn cold!
Before I got on the bus the other morning I quickly dashed into the store a the petrol station near the bus stop to pick up something for the office. My purchase consisted of packet of coffee, a box of cookies and a candy bar. The cashier had a hard time suppressing a smile and when I said it was my turn to bring coffee today he laughed out loud and in the broadest Berliner dialect said “Aber verjessen Sie nit zu arbeiten och” (but don’t forget to work either). Not that it was any of his business, but it made me smile.
On good days i.e. no traffic, my commute is 45 minutes long, most of it in darkness. Someone asked me recently whether I was afraid to commute at that hour. and my answer is no. I am on the road with a lot of students, and most importantly, the first bus I take is full of policemen who get off at the academy or have to report for the morning shift. It might well be the most testosterone-filled bus ever, but it is probably Berlin’s safest commute!
It takes two bus rides to get to the office, and to catch the second bus I change over at the terminal where there are several bakeries already open for business from 06:00 onwards. I’ve taken to going to one particular one with the best sandwiches and wraps, and a decent assortment of bread and pastries. When I arrived yesterday, everyone on the staff was grumpier than usual – it was snowing outside and soon after it stopped the rain came down in the most annoying drizzle. While putting my food into my backpack I asked cheerfully whether I could place an order for some sunshine. The chief baker frowned at me, crossed his arms and grunted “Wann hätten Sie es jern? Um wieviel Uhr wollen Sie es abholen?” (When would you like it? What time would you like to pick it up?). Wow, who ordered the sarcasm to go at 08:00? His colleague shouted from the other corner “Erst regnets wa? Es jut so” (It’s raining for now, and that is good, isn’t it?). I left them to grumble among themselves and as I walked out I heard grumpy baker complain about my cheerfulness. Berliner Schnauze.