Stories From California
Sometimes I want to write more than just journalistically about my experiences as a reporter. That is why I started to write down my thoughts, observations and emotions beyond scripts for radio, print and TV. This experiment is a lot of fun and scary at the same time. But, as they say, you have to get out of your comfort zone.
2000 miles northeast it's 8 PM. The sun has set. There is still a glow of light. The air is warm. An employee of the Cup Foods store, corner of 38th street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, Missouri calls the police. A man, he says, used a fake 20 dollar note to buy a pack of cigarettes. Eight minutes later a squad car arrives.
6:20 PM Los Angeles. While I pour olive oil over the veggies, add fresh rosemary and lemon juice, 17 year old Darnella Frazier pushes the video button on her smartphone.
First surprise: the bike path behind our house is still open.
I was lucky. When the corona virus restrictions started in California, I was staying in a secluded writing shed close to Malibu working on a 3 hour segment about bestselling writer Cornelia Funke for Deutschlandradio's, 'Die Lange Nacht'. I was in the middle of nature with almost no access to the internet, which turned out to be an even bigger blessing than I initially thought it would be.
Coming back to my home office was a different story. I can not help but follow the news, scroll through Social Media feeds, keep way to busy instead of seavouring the moment to be still and wait for what needs to arise.
I do stare out of the window quite a lot though when I sit at my desk and try to make sense of it all. I am still working on the 'making sense' part, but staring out of the window at least made me write a new poem. Here it is:
WHAT THE BIRD KNOWS
I wonder what the bird knows/The red chested finch/A cheerful troubadour
Jumping from branch to branch/In the tree with purple flowers/That almost died ten years ago
Does the red chested finch miss the humming chant to its a capella song/The constant buzz of nonstop traffic
Does the air drift lighter through its feathers/Is it easier for the finch to breathe
Two sheets of white paper lie in front of me. One is covered in bold and vivid lines, green and golden. To me they look like arches, minarets, sails and ships and stars. Next to it, on straight black lines, I see familiar German words. Unruly, shaky letters which look like they want to fly away. It is a letter from my mother, a belated Christmas greeting.
I received both papers on the same day, the first one from a poet in 'Tehrangeles', a part of Los Angeles where many families live who came to the U.S. from Iran. That morning I walked into the poet's shop as a reporter looking for reactions to escalating tension in the Middle East. He said there was not enough time to talk and make sense of anything, as he was with a student to teach her calligraphy. He then handed me the paper with green and golden lines. "I wrote this poem about news coming from Iran, the demonstrators that were shot," he said. "It is for you."