Christmas Caroling as a German in California

During Advent in Germany, I’m so thrilled to go to Church for Christmas caroling. Before mass, I’m pumping up the jams all morning with the best hits from the 15th, 16th and 17th century. Those American jingle tingle Christmas songs don’t touch my dark German soul. I need Carols that are written and produced during the Thirty Year’s War. With blood and tears on sheet music. With lyrics, so depressing it’s hard to tell if it’s a German Christmas Carol or Emomusic. „Maria walks amid the thorns“, „I lay in death’s deepest night“, „Oh come, comfort us here in the vale of tears“. Just to name some lyrics from my favorite evergreens.
Since I spent the Holidays in the USA, I gave American Carols one last try. I attended a Public Christmas Caroling in a small town in Northern California. 

 

This is how happy I look when I listen to depressing German Christmas songs.

I was studying the obituaries in the local newspaper when I saw an ad for the event. „Bring jingle bells, a drum and fancy hats. And be prepared to carol at various locations throughout the downtown area. Sheet music will be provided“. Count Ingrid in!!! I’m going!!!

We met at the local museum (that actually looked more like a high school history project. „Okay, every student pick one topic of our home town’s history. Use as many different fonts as possible, print it out and pin it on a flip chart”).
More than 100 people came to sing. It was so crowded. No one gave a damn about keeping a safe distance from the exhibits. Sorry, hand forged garden rake from the 18th century.

 

Singing Christmas songs about snow here feels like fraud. And I like it.

 

In the middle of the building was our choir conductor, who actually wasn’t a real choir conductor. He was as much of a choir conductor, as a butcher is a doctor, when he is one of the last survivors of a remote island airplane crash. But he had the loudest voice, the funniest hat and the jolliest appearance. He was our best conductor!
He started the songs on random notes and it took usually the first two verses for the group to decide on a mutual tune. Mostly pushed by the louder voices of two experienced and apparently competitive female choir singers. C-sharp minor! No, C-flat major! No! Competing like the last two bidders at an art auction.

We sang five songs in closed sessions. Which was good. Because instead of getting into the groove, we got out of groove more and more. We were not only off tune but also off rhythm. Due to the overuse of bells and drums that the newspaper ad called for.

 

Overlooking beautiful Point Reyes Lighthouse because I was too lazy to actually walk down.

 

Nevertheless, we went outside and stormed our first location: the city’s hotel lobby. Where a handful of people were enjoying a quiet evening by the fire place with a glass of wine. Until we came. A wild horde of Carolers. And bellowed our earsplitting serenade, that none of the six hotel guests asked for. It was so much fun! We left without explanation. And like a flash mob, that wouldn’t get any clicks on youtube.

For more Christmas Caroling, we went into a bar, all of us, and sang „Silent Night“. Which was echoed by some drunks with „GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!“. Can’t force the jolly Christmas mood on everybody, can you.

 

Donning Ugly Christmas Sweaters like a true American.

 

 

We also caroled while walking. But the people in the front sang different songs than the people in the back. And the people in the middle, like children of divorced parents, were unsure which side to pick. I finally let my German sense of order go and enjoyed the moment. And switched happily back and forth between „Frosty the Snowman“ and „Jingle Bells“.

Singing songs about snow in sunny California feels like fraud. But even here it does get cold outside believe it or not. It was actually freezing at night. Which is good. Because it separated the wheat from the chaff singers. After a while, all amateurs had left. About 25 hardcore Carolers, including me, stayed. We could have probably spontaneously performed Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

We formed up around the City Plaza’s Christmas Tree and sang „Oh Tannenbaum“. In German! I sang aggressively loud, so people could tell how good I am at German. Sadly, no one said anything to me, though.

 

Singing “Oh Tannenbaum” aggressively loud so people compliment my German.

 

 

Suddenly, some very old man next to me randomly gave me a burnt CD. „These are my favorite Christmas songs” he said. An Eighty-year old just gave me a mixtape!! How sweet is that!! But shortly afterwards, my German ingrown skepticism kicked in. I was afraid it was something like in The Ring. Whoever listens to it dies seven days later. You’re only safe from Santa Samara, if you pass along a copy of the CD. And make someone else listen to Christmas songs by Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey and Rod Stewart.

It’s been seven days now. And I can say I am still alive. And still blessed about this special Christmas Carol experience. American Carols, I like you after all, when sung off-tune with a hundred people inside a bar in a small town in Northern California.

 

At Point Reyes Lighthouse happy that I didn’t die driving on the winding roads. But will I die from that mixtape I got?

 

 

All photos in this Christmas Caroling post were taken during the longest hike in the Presidio Park in San Francisco and during the longest drive to the Lighthouse Point Reyes just ten thousand winding roads north of San Francisco.

 

 

Adeste fideles / laeti triumphantes / Venite, venite / in Californiam.

 

 

 

Wrocław Weekend

Last weekend, there was a major storm in Berlin: trees falling, public transport and flights – heck even my open mic – canceled. Or as my Irish friend called it „a normal day“. And exactly that alert-filled weekend I go on vacation to nearby Poland. We took Polskibus, a cross-border Greyhound, which sounds like a punishment to some, but turned out to be the only way to leave the city. It takes four hours – exactly the time span I can hold it in. The bus driver didn’t want to see any tickets: everyone who wanted got on and we left stormy Berlin. Off to Wrocław, Poland!

 

“In Polskibus we trust”

 

Now my website isn’t a travel blog (unless my open mic via dolorosa is a travelogue to you) but I gotta tell you: Wrocław (Pronounced Wruasuaf, German: Breslau) is one hell of a beautiful place. It’s Poland’s fourth largest city and has a more than thousand-year-old touching history. Many notable people, also many Germans, had their start in the Silesian capital: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Clara Immerwahr, J.F.v. Eichendorff. The entire city is one big witness of history and beauty. And it seemed like they painted their houses just for fall season. The dominant colors red, orange and green were mesmerizing. Even though the weather forecast was grey, we were surprised by sun and expressionists clouds. If the sky was me, people would say stop being so dramatic.

 

Please note the SWANS on the right side! I’ve never seen swans fly. And I’m originally from the countryside.

 

Breslau is a young city thanks to a big old university. All bars and restaurants seem to be operated by teenagers. And work just fine! It seems like, just like in San Francisco, that all senior citizen are somehow kept outside the city walls. We actually wanted to see a concert at the university’s baroque Aula Leopoldina but there was a lecture in Polish instead so we got our money back (after “listening” to the speaker for an hour with utmost confusion).

 

“How can I help you, I’m twelve”

 

Traveling as a couple can be exhausting and should be planned accordingly. My boyfriend’s and my interests differed so much! For every bar he dragged me in, I took revenge on him with another art museum. And there are many. For our next trip to Paris, I pray to the French Gods that the Louvre serves Craft Beer – or otherwise Paris will no longer be known as the city of love.

 

The market hall with many Polish foods: Hala Targowa

 

In Breslau, I can recommend the contemporary art museum. It’s located in the outskirts, so on the way there, you can walk through a big communist architecture outdoor museum (it’s not an outdoor museum, just people’s housing).

The art exhibitions are located inside a disarmed bunker. We were about to buy a ticket, when the guy at the counter said „eh, it’s not really worth it. People before paid and then came back to me and complained. So I’m just letting you in for free.“ Geez what were they exhibiting that people complained about? Modern art? Turns out, just not a whole lot, just a few collages and a children crafts table. To me, the best part was a flyer given to us at the end:

 

(c) Muzeum Współczesnego Wrocław

 

Best part about the trip? We saw a guy standing outside KFC with a raccoon on his shoulder. Biggest regret about the trip? Not having taken photos of them. They did seem to know each other since he (the man) talked to his pet (?) (or rehabilitated roadkill?). And then they walked into the KFC. Zero fucks were given by the waiters. He ordered and raccoony helped him to get out the cash from his wallet for his (their?) chicken.

 

 

There were surprisingly many KFCs in Breslau, whereas in Berlin, I don’t even know if we have one. But who cares. We prefer local foods when traveling. You thought Germany was sausage country? Think again. Because Eastern Europe is the sausiest sausage area that ever sausaged. I’m a vegetarian, until I cross that border. I just have to. The food is so good!

 

“Basic Polish words and pronunciation”

 

My favorite food is Borscht. A delicious beetroot soup, with undefinable stuff in it – impossible to comb through for a vegetarian – so I surrender and shove it down my drain. And I love Pierogi. Those heavenly dumplings, steamed or fried, translate to German as „Teigtaschen“. Which literally means „dough bags“. This info made my American boyfriend so happy, we now refer to dumplings solely as dough bags. I ate so many of them, at some point I thought I turned into one myself. Again, it’s almost impossible to be Vegetarian since even the veggie pierogi are decorated with meat.

 

“Dough bag”

 

What else can you do in Breslau? My highlight was visiting the botanical garden. It’s from the university so it’s probably all scientific and stuff but who cares when there is a kids section with dressed up pumpkins!!!!!!! They were styled as spiders, pigs and an apiarist. With my orange jacket and hat, I had camouflage level infinity. Can you spot the biggest pumpkin in this picture?

 

Where do pumpkins start and Wenzel end?

I have a dog now

I want a dog. For so many reasons. I love them. As a freelancer, I need a reason to go outside. And it’s more fun writing jokes at home with a dog audience sitting next to me. Also, my rent is so high and needs to be worthwhile, I want someone constantly inhabiting my flat, if person, dog or burglar.

I have a foster dog now. It’s basically like probation. You have them for a try out period. And at the end you have the option to purchase or leave them at a highway restaurant. I wrote down my first thoughts about my new doggo experiences and also jotted some dog illustrations:

 

dog illustrations
I wished we’d know what dogs think…

 

Her race is called „Chinese Crested Powder Puff“, which sounds a bit like a far eastern fitness drink. How do I explain it… have you heard of the contest „the ugliest dog in the world“? Yup, it’s that one. They win every year. They’re like Russian figure skaters gold medalists. It’s not fair, they win every time. They’re just too ugly.

My dog has substantially more hair though, that covers up the contest winning face. When I got her, she didn’t have hair, she had dreadlocks. She didn’t live with a hippy but neglect. So I went to the dog salon. What a goofy place. There was so much hair flying around, enough to equip the next three Gucci collections with fur. At first, I didn’t see the hairdresser, until she appeared underneath the hair like a camouflage soldier.

„Just take away all the unhealthy hair. It doesn’t have to look good“, is what I said to her. Yeah and then two hours later I saw the dog. Having several thoughts on my mind. Maybe I should have told her to leave one dread lock, just one, for coolness. Do animals know they’re ugly? And lastly, where is the next ugliest dog contest, I might have a winner.

 

dog illustrations
just another unrealistic beauty standard

 

I walked the dog back home. One guy said „geez, does she have cancer?“. Yes it’s a cancer dog. Fresh from dog chemotherapy. Additionally, she’s a fearful dog. She’s scared of everything. Like those people that can’t watch scary movies and end up screaming at everything.

My dog is terrified of cars, bikes and air. Strangers look at her all shaky saying „awwww“. And then give me the look like I’m an animal abuser. That’s my sign to yell out „rescue dog, I saved her, worship me ok thanks.“ How one powerful sentence can make people believe you’re not an animal abuser but a saint! I see myself saying that everyday now, with or without dog.

 

dog illustrations

 

So will I keep her? Not sure. I looked at so many dogs now. At the animal shelter, all dogs are either old, sick or on a cruiseship. But you know what I liked about the shelter? They don’t do false advertising! On the cages they have clearly written signs: „Bobby bites“, „Tyson humps everyone“, „Molly limps and will cause substantial cost and you’ll probably go bust“. There it is black and white. And it’s true. I get there, I get bitten. And I can’t complain about it.

The dogs don’t even try to show themselves from a good side. I thought: I’m their savior, holding the one rose that will determine their fate. And suddenly, the kennel is quiet. Bobby goes „I don’t bite. Never have. Never will. I don’t even bite my food. I just lick it. Lick, lick, look!“ Tyson claims he’s asexual, woof. And Molly jumps around „everything okay, I’m in topform. Ouch ouch, just kidding. Pick me pick me.“ It’s like dating, you lie until you’re a couple and can’t be abandoned at a highway restaurant.

To be continued…

 

 

*(I feel silly saying this, but some of this is satire. Just making sure. Okay bye)

Wedding DJ during G20

I rarely dj at weddings anymore. But when I do, it’s in Hamburg during G20. Or as my comedy pal Andreas Weber put it:

„Honey, let’s get married on July 7th 2017“.

– „I’m just hoping we’ll have good weather in Hamburg“.

„Oh, what could possibly go wrong“.

Yeah, would could go wrong? Quite a bit. Here they are:

 

 

Registry office closed

The registry office in Altona closed because of vandalism. All weddings cancelled.  Leaving many couples desperate. „Damn it, how are we supposed to remember any other date than 07.07. It’s already engraved in our rings!“ I was also going to a location in Altona, so happy “my” wedding wasn’t cancelled.

 

Elbchaussee on fire

On Friday, I drove my car from Berlin to Hamburg following the news on the radio. Besides Hamburg being in a state of emergency in general, the only street name, that was mentioned again and again was Altona’s Elbchausseebecause of vandalism, mobs, burning cars and roadblocks. I was going to Elbchaussee. And I got closer and closer to the chaos hoping for the best. While driving, I came up with an entire screenplay starring a retired wedding DJ, returning for one last job: a wedding at Mordor.

 

Yeah, I chose not to post any pictures of the chaos, but my shots from my wedding’s photo booth. (c) boothbrother

 

Logistics and overheating

I had planned double time for everything, took the biggest detour around Hamburg centre and made it there safely. I unloaded my car and set up sound and light. Too bad there is an abyss as big as the Mariana Trench between the parking lot and the beach location. I was sweating so much I had to switch bras! The last time that happened was when I was working on a cruise ship on the Amazon! At least it was warm and the forecasted thunderstorms stayed home. I was prepared for a monsoon, carrying rain boots and an outrageous amount of protective plastic wrapping, Christo would have been jealous of. Ingrid, the wedding dj, that got famous for her performances with a wrapped up sound system.

 

Please don’t burn my car down

After setting up, I drove around and reparked my car in the tiniest side street, like a squirrel hiding its nuts. I thought about putting a sign in my car. „I AM AN ARTIST AND THIS IS A RENTAL CAR“. After the wedding, I prayed it would still be there. It was. I drove between burned down car bodies. It was one hell of a dystopian vision. Speaking of dystopia, I spent the night only 400 m away from the mob demolishing the shopping street in Altona. I thought about sleeping in the car, since I needed it and the sound system the following day for the next wedding. I was so glad nothing happened.

 

Nope still not showing the vandals. (c) boothbrother.de

 

Poisonous poop at the beach

Because of the heavy rain all week, „balls of fat and feces“ were pushed up from the sewing system and stranded on Elbe beach. My wedding was directly on Elbe beach (with a sand dance floor). It had been closed but thankfully reopened! Three tonne of poisonous scoops were removed! Besides, all of my location’s food and drink suppliers and caterers cancelled so the gastronome did all the shopping by himself. He did a great job!

 

Cruising with police and Greenpeace

Speaking of water, my wedding party did a harbor boat tour and even had their opening dance onboard. They almost couldn’t board the ship because of the blockades. Also, all cruise ships didn’t ship into Hamburg port and stayed outside at nearby Harburg port. (Hamburg, Harburg. This one letter difference is constantly causing confusion and wrong boardings among tourists. As if the cities were named only to fool outsiders).

The river Elbe was empty like dead water. The only other boats accompanying my wedding party were police boats and Greenpeace protesters (with a giant sculpture of a crying baby Trump on the roof). Talking about great photo ops.

 

(c) boothbrother.de

 

No time to be angry

I had no time to be angry at G20, at the vandals, at the police. At anything. I needed to gather my strength and positivity. I had another wedding to do the next day. As a wedding dj, one gotta be focused and positive, no matter what. I need to fade out politics and criticism and solely function. It might be the 100th wedding for me but it’s the first for my bridal couple. There are no excuses for a wedding dj. It’s important to keep up the excitement. It’s like coming into work on your first day every day, again and again. It did pay off.

We had two dream weddings despite all circumstances. With a beach dance floor. Best weather. And the only thing that burnt was the bonfire. It was my very first wedding at an Elbe location with no neighbors calling the police because of noise pollution. Guess they had worse things to worry about, sadly.

 

 

 

#Ehefüralle

Best thing that happened this weekend? When announcing the throwing of the bride’s bouquet, I asked her who’s allowed to catch. (This is a question I always ask, almost rhetorically, hoping for the one tolerant answer.) The bride yelled „EVERYONE CUZ EHEFÜRALLE!“. (This week, Germany passed the law for same sex marriage).

 

Ingrid’s racing team

I was so relieved on Sunday. We had two great nights and I could go back to Berlin and return my car without a scratch. On my way to the Autobahn I heard an ambulance. Turns out it wasn’t an ambulance. My rear mirror showed four water cannons speeding towards me. I’ve never seen such tanks before. I stepped on the gas and followed right behind the tanks. I never got out of the city that fast! Because of G20, I put the highest insurance on my rental car. I normally never get insurance. Thankfully I did. Because on my way back to Berlin, I stopped at my brother’s family house in rural Germany and accidentally scratched the wheel rim on the curb big time. Oops. Or as we Germans say “Glück im Unglück” (blessing in disguise), which pretty much describes my entire weekend.

 

(c) boothbrother.de

Pics Pics Pics #3

Back in Hamburg, I used to live on the 6th floor, no elevator. In my bipolar bachelor pad. In winter, it constantly felt cold like the windows were open. A test room for polar clothing. And in summer, it was a million degrees hot. I could offer nocturnal Bikram Yoga classes. There was no in between.

I hardly had visitors. No one was willing to walk up the stairs. It had its good sides. Whenever a rare visitor did ring, I had 6 floors time to get ready. „At least, with this daily work out, I can save the gym fee“, I thought. My previous tenant promised me a nice butt. But that never happened. Instead, I became efficient. Do I really need to walk down the stairs again this week? Does the supermarket deliver everything?

My apartment was in a fancy part of Hamburg. All houses, built around 1900, are white and shiny and reflected by the even shinier water around it. But no rich person wanted to live inside my Hunchback crib. So it was affordable for me. I particularly remember a certain one-night-stand, on our way to my place, saying „you can’t afford to live in this neighborhood“. I lost him on staircase number two. Because I kicked him.

There was one species, who would come to my place deliberately and because of the stairs: photographers. They loved my Mediterranean blue staircase, winding up around the cone of light from the skylight. Most of the time, those neighbors, including me, who didn’t pay a weekly cleaning lady „forgot“ the obligatory, monthly staircase cleaning. Those stairs would get so dirty. When you walked the staircase at dawn, the romantically whirled up dirt looked like natural waste floating in blue water. You see, I had much to offer for photographers. I had several models using my home for a shooting.

Now I live in Berlin. I’m walking up less but uglier stairs. I often think back to my old flat. For example, it took exactly one tightly written postcard from my friend Helen to get from the mailbox to the fifth floor. I remember sitting in the early mornings on the first step with my DJ suitcase, too lazy to walk up, after a long night of Djing. And one neighbor, on their way to work, passing me „ah, you must be a doctor, returning from your night shift! Hope you saved many lives“. I sticked to that story, when explaining my „unaffordable lifestyle“ to my one-night-stands. In the end, playing a song at 140 bpm can also be a CPR.

I had one final shooting at my place this year, right before moving out. And I finally had time to dig through the photos. The photographer Stefanie Baars needed to check it out as a future shooting location. And I was her test model, on the staircase and around the house. I love it! I feel like I look like a different person in all of the pics. Can you guess which are edited with photoshop?

 

 








Brussels Revisited

Exactly one year ago, I traveled to Uganda via Brussels airport. I arrived at the terminal the same second three suicide bombers, at the other terminal, pulled their triggers. Killing fourteen innocent people and leaving eighty-one injured. I was stuck in nearby Leuven for four days where I wrote this following text. Then I continued my travels via Paris CDG, arriving in Uganda on Easter Sunday.

3/22/2016 Brussels Airport 

I was at Brussels Airport when the bombs exploded. I didn’t hear nor see it. But I saw hundreds of people running in my direction. My first thought was „how can so many people be late for their flight?“. How little did I know.

We then assumed that there was some sort of attack. One Swede threw up his hands „seriously, this is my fifth terrorist attack“, as if he had a collecting album. We stood at the A Terminals and waited for news. The sudden, eery silence was only interrupted by a school class playing fussball. They didn’t worry. Each of their loud cheers was answered by other people’s yelp. The mood was tangled and tensed.

Fifteen minutes later the airport announced evacuation. Most travelers didn’t follow the instructions at first and thought it was a fire drill. One officers pulled me gently off the restrooms. People had to leave all their luggage. One woman said „back home I announced I wanted to be less controlling, less attached to material things and have a blast. I didn’t mean it this way“. It was sad to find out later it was real and people died.

While walking outside the terminal, I overheard a couple saying „ah evacuation, thank God we wear functional clothing“. One person rejoiced „finally, I can also mark myself safe on facebook“. Some ordinary tourists discovered their inner journalist and metamorphosed into realtime reporters with selfie sticks. They got this ambitious look on their face like they’re part of something bigger. Now anything was suspicious, the floor, the planes, the weather. Me, I was just cold. I wore summer cloths and a rain coat.

Back in Hamburg, I was worried „will this raincoat warm me for five minutes between the bus station and airport? And protect me from the warm African highland monsoon?“ Little did I know that I was about to stand outside the airport for 5 hours. There I was freezing and thus started dancing, imagining minimalism music. Some people complimented my sweet moves. I was thankful I didn’t start a sad flashmob. In fact, I felt horrible. I also hadn’t slept or eaten in two days. I started crying and put on sunglasses. I was cool crying. I ate all the chocolate that I initially bought for my hosts in Uganda. Me, dancing and crying with sunglasses, raincoat and eating chocolate. This image will stay with me for a while. Still, I had no idea what really happened.

Hours later me and all the other hundreds of people were escorted out of the airport area, followed by journalists and cameras. No one really knew what was going on. I was hoping planes would leave soon. My first stop was at a gym hall where I rested on the floor. We then were advised to go to Leuven, a small town outside of Brussels that was not affected by the attacks. We were told to look for hotels and return to the airport the next day. At the train station, I became friends with two young American women on their way to Delhi. On top of everything, one of them had food poisoning. All hotels were booked. We became friends with despair.

Eventually, we got the last beds at Leuven City Hostel. It was packed only with people who were there involuntarily. There were Turkish guys interrupted on their way to Berlin, two Czech couples trying to get to Havana, and two girls from Bielefeld because they wanted to go to Louvain-la Neuve but confused it with Leuven (Leuven in French is called Louvain). 

 

3/23/2016 Leuven

We still don’t know how to go on. First, we were so happy to be able to sleep. This morning, I woke up at seven from the construction on the other side of our hostel wall. They started working to The Final Countdown. I didn’t care. So far it seems there will be no flights until further notice. The airport is still marked a crime scene. The airlines seem to be as uninformed as us. I’ve been waiting in their phone line for about five coffees. It seems like I will stay for even more coffees in Leuven. Me and my new friends spend time together. For example, we go into stores just to be warm. The hostel life feels a little bit like an involuntarily Erasmus experience but without luggage. I made so many friends, also because I’m the only one with an iPhone charger.

Leuven is a cute Flemish university town. Our first encounter was a blessing. Three Belgian guys gave us free food. An entire cake, a baguette and oranges! Everyone here is dressed nicely. Us not so. Rather three girls in oversized bulky raincoats. We felt so foreign. We weren’t underdressed enough to look like we dressed up like that. We three just stuck out like accidentally stranded backpackers. It’s small details like that, a silly rain coat, which made one feel foreign. What must bigger differences feel like?
My thoughts are with everyone affected by the attacks.

3/24/2016 Leuven at night

It’s astonishing how fast I can get used to a standard. Even though it’s involuntarily, I’m enjoying the hostel life. On Tuesday, I was plain grateful that I’m alive and that I could sleep in a crowded gym hall. On Wednesday, I didn’t mind my sleep being interrupted by The Final Countdown constructions workers. Because any time is the time for The Final Countdown. But today I’m already complaining about the cold shower and other people having fun: Last night my sleep was ruined by a huge party.

National mourning does not apply to university students. It’s semester end party in Leuven, a city whose main essence is the university. Fifty thousand students celebrated before their exam period. And the main party seemed to be outside my window. I looked out and was greeted by young, innocent faces, not yet corrupted by the many dirty years of university.

They partied it up right in front of us while we tried to sleep.  Someone peed against our window, thinking it was a wall(?). Then I did something I haven’t done since the military. Not shooting! Geez! I rolled in my ear plugs so hard that I could only hear my own heartbeat. My desperate hostel mates, for the first time since food poisoning able to sleep, went outside to complain like we were forty years older. Hey can you party quieter? Was I angry because I was still recovering from the shock of terror while they were partying? Or because I wasn’t partying but they were? DJ Ingrid needs some rest.

Now my bed was as quiet as a shooting range. I googled „how do deaf people know when to get up in the morning“. I was worried that I wouldn’t hear my alarm clock. Because I have a train to catch. Also, as a suspicious German tourist, I slept on my traveller checks. I hoped no one would mug me. Or if they did mug me, at least wake me up afterwards. Thanks mugger. I woke up again in the middle of the night because I lost my one ear plug. I looked for it closely as if it was a spider or gold. It was 6.30 and the party was still going on. Now they really got my DJ Ingrid street cred.

I got up. That one old dude still blasted youtube videos in the lobby. (The last two days – and nights – he has been playing the same video of people doing the time warp again and again and again. And again. Btw, he’s not stranded here but apparently lives at the hostel those past ten years. Maybe he doesn’t know who he is. And the time warp is the only thing that connects him to his past self). At 7.00, The Final Countdown began as usual. My hostel mate asked politely how I slept and we just burst out in hysterical laughter. Like cocaine addicts asking each other how they liked their mediation.

Today my voyage continues. I said farewell to all my wonderful hostel friends, all departing in different directions. Frankfurt, Amsterdam, blablacar. Only that one old dude stays. He’s having the time warp again for breakfast. In a few hours, I will try to get to Brussels main station. I bought the last available train ticket to Paris Charles de Gaulles. For the first time I will have a big birthday party with hundreds of guests – I will celebrate it on the airplane to Addis Abeba. My flight has been rescheduled for the fourth time now.

 

I got safely to Brussels main station. Boarded the TGV to Paris CDG. Met up with my Indian friend from Stockholm, who happened to be there. Boarded the airplane and continued trip, that would shape my view of terrorism, of Africa, politics, and western beauty standard forever. 

A trip to the Gym

„I was at the gym today“, I told my friend proudly. He replied „did you have a gig there?“.
Wow. Was it that out-of-the-way of me to be at a gym? Guess so. I haven’t seen the inside of a gym in years. And that one time doesn’t count, when I was just handing out flyers for my close-by comedy show. (No one came).

A few weeks ago, I ran to an open mic to get a spot. That’s when it hit me. When the only work out I get is sprinting to an open mic, there’s clearly something wrong with my fitness. And career, because I didn’t even get the spot.

I used to be athletic, though. I mean, I was on a Bundesliga team. (Granted, it was Rugby. There are so few players, when you start, you’re automatically Bundesliga. In Germany, Rugby has the same development index as Comedy. Okay, who am I kidding, I never actually played a Bundesliga match, but I saw one, from the bench, park bench). But Rugby wasn’t my only exotic sport, I also played Headis regularly. So regular, I even modeled for it (was accidentally at practice when a curious photo team showed up):

That one time I was athletic and a camera team showed up.

 

 

So, I need to work out again. But I would never sign up for a gym deliberately. I hate gyms. Hanging onto some work out device while I think everyone stares at me because I probably use it wrong? Is there an anxiety-gym? At the entry of any gym’s atmosphere, my motivation burns up in a split second. And it’s too cold to be running outside. And no group sport, since my ankle is broken from when I once tried high heels. And no yoga, because I always fall asleep. Yes, I have many excuses. I have more, need one? So what now?

 

Am I doing this right? Why is everyone looking? Help. (c) Ingrid Wenzel

 

So one day, on my way to getting my daily dose of cake, I saw a little raffle next to a bakery. I could win something. How exciting! Oh, just a personal training. You almost got me!
I participated in this raffle. It was my way of effort to work out: Now it was in their hands. Leave fitness up to fate. I did draw a big smiley on my raffle card, awkwardly waving it into the personal trainers’ faces. Heyyy pick me right. I really like winning.

Guess what. I did win. Or they did pick me, having seen my untrained body. (They probably marked my card “Winner! She needs it the most!!!”). Or they let everyone win, cuz that’s marketing right? Anyway.

Sooo, I went to my first class on Monday morning. I was out of shape and nervous. What should I wear? How close will I be standing next to the personal trainer? I took a shower before my training, applied body lotion, did my nails, even flossed. The last time I did all that, I got myself a new boyfriend.

My prize wasn’t a normal, awful gym. It was a gym where you get black, skin tight suits and electric shots (EMS)! What?! What have I gotten myself into? But the trainer calmed me down by saying “you would be the first person to pass out this week”. The first one this week? It was just Monday morning! He hooked my functional sausage-skin to the power. Bzzzzz. 
Here’s what it looked like. Also, I think this is the best self-portrait I’ve ever drawn:

EMS: Elektromyostimulationstraining or Egon M. Schiele? (c) Ingrid Wenzel

This electric shock work out lasts only 20 minutes. I can do that. It tickled, I didn’t go out of my way. Wasn’t even sweating. (I only took a shower afterwards because the suit smells of other people’s sweat.) I even enjoyed it (not the sweat). I must have looked like someone, who chills while being electrocuted. Back at home, I felt accomplished and had more cake.

The backlash awaited me the next day: a surprise muscle ache in places, I didn’t even know I had muscles. I will do it again. Bring it on! Turns out, EMS is not only super efficient, it’s also expensive. Looking at my fellow gym partners, I’m never sure if they’re rich or lazy. Good small talk topic for my next workout. Make Ingrid’s body great again.

 

 

 

Favorite Words (German)

Some people say “jokes are just words”. I don’t think so. Words are powerful. It’s all we have. They can lift us up, make us laugh, and destroy. Writing stand-up, and not my half finished language degree, made me appreciate words. Is this word necessary for the joke? Is there a funnier sounding one? Does this word evoke negative emotions? What does it really mean?

I often stumble upon words I find enthralling. Like enthralling. Or curmudgeon. Or flabbergasted. I write them on a special list. My Ingrid encyclopedia of odd words. And I’m adding to it almost every day. Whenever I have free time I skim through it. And when I have more time, I illustrate them.

Even though I write in English most of my favorite words are in German. English I use, but German I own. My funny bone speaks English, but my heart German. And I’m in love with compounds with odd literal meanings. Like the German word for a tender stroke: Streicheleinheit. It literally means “caress unit”. Because stroking in Germany has to be regulated!

So now here are some doodles of my Lieblingswörter, Lieblingsworte, Favorite Words:

 

Streicheleinheit – “caress unit” – because stroking in Germany has to be regulated!

 

I overheard someone say FeedbackboDen (feedback floor) instead of Feedbackbogen (feedback sheet) and loved it.

 

Geistige Umnachtung, mental derangement, literally when the night mentally wraps around you. So sad yet beautiful.

 

Haltung statt Pose (posture/attitude instead of pose). I read it in some article about Diane von Fürstenberg. More posture, less pose please!

 

A growling and whining Onomatopoeia balloon.

 

This illustration was someone’s Freudian slip. Leibhaftig (incarnate, lit. Leib =body, whereas Laib = bread) and liebheftig (lieb ~ love, heftig ~ fiercely) Kinda? Gosh, hope no scholars read my blog. Umm but seriously, it’s 12.30 am, and I never finished my language degree so I think my translation is fine as it is.

 

Sehnsuchtsort, place of yearning.

 

~ Summerly & Summer “Hole”. And me wearing a Kimono.

 

Verschlimmbesserung: ImBadProvement. A supposed improvement that makes everything worse. Like the painting.

 

I personally always confused Wehmut (feeling nostalgic) with Wermut (vermouth). Clearly, the one could lead to the other. Wermutstropfen is used to describe a tiny drop of bitterness. And I often thought WeHmutstropfen were tiny drops of woefulness.

 

Whitewashing and Katzenwäsche (cat laundry, meaning having as little personal hygiene as possible. Or use a cat for washing).

 

Zaungast: an unwanted visitor / onlooker, literally a “fence guest”. Not to be confused with Soundgast, a word I made up. What a great dj alias!

 

I’m not a real Dj

I’m not a real DJ. In fact, I’m a fake DJ. Just don’t tell anyone, will you?

 

I just casually wear my headphones to look like a DJ.

 

Let’s say your profession is a technician. Strangers walk up to you and say „you’re not a real technician“! How would you react?
— „You’re right, I’m not a real technician, I’m actually a hair dresser and you’re the only one who noticed.“

On a somewhat regular basis, party guests tell me (or yell at me) that I am not a „real DJ“. Often, it’s the first thing they do when they enter the club. It’s their version of saying hello. And they don’t even need alcohol for that! And mostly, it’s men. I blew their mind by being a DJane. I don’t get it. It’s 2017. Everyone is a DJ. Everybody has a playlist and an opinion. And thanks to the Internet, everyone now thinks their opinion matters. If there was a DJ university, I would do my PH DJ. Just to show critics my sweet DJ Diploma. But the reasons for being a “fake DJ” are numerous, as I explain later.

 

„You’re not a real DJ.“
„Right, I am not a real DJ. I am actually a crêpe cook and mistook those turntables for hotplates.“

 

 

 

DJane or Crêpe cook?

 

 

  • Someone always hates the DJ.

 

DJs get much attention. DJs are admired but, at the end of a party, someone always hates the DJ. If Raymond was a DJ, not everyone would love him. No matter how much I I try to please everyone, one person always hates. And since that one person recently found out that this guy at a party, who introduced himself as an artist, is not a „real artist“ and actually works at a coffee shop, and thus is inflating the title for all „real artists“, one becomes a little more cautious and investigative. I get it. Sometimes, people just start yelling, when I don’t immediately play their song.

That is why, whenever someone questions my job (or worse, existence), I don’t get offended. I simply ask them „why?“.
The answers are numerous, diverse, and I swear, not made up:

 

  1. „You’re not a real DJ because you don’t have LPs“,
    (typically uttered at a party with hundreds of guests, where I play music from gazillion different genres and decades and also respond to song requests for ten hours straight and where a box of LPs, just to prove I’m a „real DJ“, won’t get me far.)
  2. „You’re not a real DJ because you use Tractor, because real DJs don’t use computer programs.“ Yes, and real writers type on a typerwriter and not on a notebook.
  3. „You’re not a real DJ because you just play a playlist, right? Because once I also made a playlist for my grandpa’s birthday party and that party wasn’t good so yours can’t be good either“.
  4. „You’re not a real DJ because you’re using mp3s and I read on Huffington Post that David Guetta once forgot his usb stick and couldn’t dj so you can’t either.“
  5. „You’re not a real DJ but I am. I don’t get why you’re booked tonight and I’m not.“
  6. „You’re not a real DJ because you’re a woman. Where’s your boyfriend, he must be the real DJ.“ (If you’ve seen me on stage, I made an entire comedy bit on this sadly often recurrent accusation. Or is that meant to be a pick up line?)

 

 

 

“Can I offer you another pancake?” © Scandic Hotel Hamburg / Toni Momtschew

 

  • Being no „real DJ“ has changed the way I work.

 

I usually assumed a good DJ is someone, who can make a crowd work, a client happy, and a club prosperous – whether it’s LPs, mp3, tractor, female or male, electro or rock.
Nowadays, whenever I meet a client beforehand, I feel I need to say that I don’t have a set playlist. I feel the need to justify why it’s good to be flexible and thus not use LPs.
I feel the need to explain that, as a DJ for private and corporate events, it’s not about forcing my artisan music on the client. It’s about choosing the right song like a journalist choses the right word. And it shouldn’t matter if a journalist writes on paper or online.

 

(c) Demetri Martin

 

  • What does a „not real DJ“ do?

 

Being a DJ often means neglecting the perfect mix, and instead cheer up the nervous maid of honor, who’s about to give her speech.
It’s not about showing off my turntables but showing the host how to use the microphone correctly.
It’s not about playing my music but, in dubio pro festo, play what the people right now on the dance floor would like. Even if it’s I’ve Been Looking For Freedom.
It’s about asking the caterer when the food is ready so I can time the music and speeches.
It’s about clearing the packed dance floor the most gentle way, when the company boss tells me „can you make the party be over in four minutes and not make me look bad?“.

 

 

 

Dj Ingrid: distinguishing between small talk, misogyny and flirting since 2013

 

  • Guide about how to talk to a DJ (taken from the guide „how to talk to humans“).

 

Lastly, I want to give you a quick guide about what to say to a DJ other than „are you the dj?“:

  1. Smile, say hello, maybe your name, state your issue politely
  2. Don’t accuse, if you have a question ask neutrally and listen

Guess what, most DJs are kind and social (except those who became hardened misanthropes). We work with some of the most fun resources in the world: music. We love to have a good time.
We like people who give us thumbs up. We like people who say „eh, personally not my music but you’re doing a great job with the crowd. I’m a guest at this party so I don’t expect my music to be played.“ Some will be surprised when DJs answer „personally, not my music either, but that’s not what it’s about here. Cheers!“ If I write my DJ autobiography one day, it’ll be called “Privat hör ich ja was anderes”.

 

Djing before it was cool (c) my mom