Geschichten aus Kalifornien

Ein Dichter, der mir im Café ein Gedicht vorliest. Eine Schülerin, die mir erzählt, wie sie mit acht Jahren von Schleusern in Mexiko festgehalten wurde. Palmwedel, die nach dem Wintersturm unsere Straßen blockieren. Eine nächtliche Fahrt mit dem Bus durch Los Angeles.

Von Begegnungen und Beobachtungen wie diesen kann ich in meiner journalistischen Arbeit selten erzählen. Das finde ich schade. Deshalb habe ich dieses Tagebuch angefangen.

Caravan - Los Angeles, CA

I am getting back into the creative writing thing, something I enjoyed a lot as a child and teenager.

I put it aside for journalism. These days, I return to my first writing love, and one morning I wrote this text.

It is a poem of thoughts and images that came up when I was watching the news and remembered interviews I made.

 

"Caravan"

Our weeping skies and calloused earths we leave behind

Our midnight serenades and drunkard beatings 

Our first breaths, first steps, first melodies of words 

First funerals of marigolds, bread, candles and tequila

First mango kisses

Behind we leave them in the mud of heavens and hells

Anything But Safe - Mar Vista, CA

"Every time, I come to this school," our volunteer coordinator said, "I'm surprised to see all the students hang out on the front lawn."

I didn't get it. "What's wrong with that?" I thought. The lawn in front of this school is beautiful, with flower bushes on the sides and between them a gorgeous statue of a women reaching towards the sky. Her body is bent almost like she is ready to fly. It's a lawn I would love to have picnics on.  

We had come to support students with their college applications and were now waiting between green bungalows that serve as classrooms for the seniors to arrive. 

"Anyone can step right onto the campus," our coordinator added. "Anyone can walk through the hallways and into classrooms."

That's when I got it. 

She looked worried while she pointed to small paths between the white main building, side walks, green grass and the spot that we were standing at. Students kept walking past us towards class. Some had books clutched to their chests.

Coming Home, Germany-LA

How do you know, you are coming home?

I think, I finally know what it means for me: 

Smelling the familiar scent of last night's pizza, mixed with the aroma of my companion's after shave and linen washed just in time to put them on the bed before I arrive, are part of it. The filled fruit bowl and the colorful key-box on the countertop. Light coming through big windows, marine layer grey in the morning, in the evenings a pink-golden sunset shimmer. Broken shells, soft dark rocks and a dried chestnut on the windowsill. Birds taking a dirt bath in the dry front yard, others humming between roses and purple flowers in the bushes. Even the pack of chewing gum lying on the kitchen desk.

Opening my arms and falling into my companion's hug is home. 

I smell. I see. I hear. I feel.

My heart slows down. My mind relaxes.

I feel grounded. I feel still. I feel at ease.

I'm home.

But didn't I just come from home? Didn't I just travel back from my real, my childhood home?

FINALLY - The RIAS Media Awards

RIAS Lachen

"We do not want you to give an aceptance speech. I will ask you a few questions after you receive the award." I was happy to hear what host Petra Gute had planned for the ceremony.

Acceptance speeches are landmines - not that I am talking from experience. But after covering award shows for many years I know that even the most experienced winners forget to thank people they really should not forget, or they are chased off the stage by random music before they can mention everybody, or worst of all: they are terribly boring.

The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION honored journalists from TV, radio and Online media, they chose very diverse stories about topics from the melting of glaciers in Alaska to the history of barbed wire and its meaning for US society. 

The award has special meaning for me because I started my career at RIAS, Radio In The American Sector, shortly after the Berlin wall came down. Maybe even more important: The RIAS BERLIN COMMISSION changed my life. Really? Really! And I had to find a way to thank them without a speech ... 

Parker Day - West Adams, CA

Something really interesting happens when a person puts on a wig. 
They let go of their inhibitions.
They let go of holding up who they think they are supposed to be. ...
They almost become more themselves.

Parker Day, Photographer

I felt a little 'grey' in my Jeans, T-Shirt and comfy sandals when I entered Parker Day's studio. She was in the process of preparing a model for a photo shoot. A hair and make up artist had just put a blonde monster-wig on the young woman and curled her hair into eccentric fierce waves. An assistant in a zebra patterned mini skirt glued unbelievably real looking fake lips to the model's face while Parker was gliding through the studio on sparkly silver high heels to check out the lightning and select some final props. 

When she started talking about her art, candy colored portraits which attract and irritate me at the same time, I understood: