Decisions, decisions

IMG_4421So, it’s been quite the month. Our daughter had an important choice to make regarding the future of her education. It took us all by surprise to learn really short-term that she didn’t get into the school she’d applied to, and things got really hectic and stressful from there for a while.

The alternative offered by the public school system was a school she had not seen during the Open Door Days in January, as she’d already made up her mind about the other place. She could not visit the school now due to Covid restrictions, but fortunately, she had a very good second-hand opinion to go on from our friends whose son graduated from the place two years ago.

The other option was doing a complete change-up and going Waldorf, joining her brother’s school.

The choices were clouded over by the devastating effect of failing to get what you worked so hard for. This would have frustrated anybody, let alone a young child of 11. There were bitter tears, self-hatred and a look of resignation on a face entirely too young for that kind of expression.

In this shit show, among all the damaged self-esteem and confusion and being forced to make a decision over the course of little more than one week, my most important goal was to empower her, make her own her situation, and enable her to make a decision she could feel good about – and be a girl boss again, a quality that had been dampened somewhat over the last two challenging school years.

Some of our less Waldorf-conscious friends felt that was not the right place for her, because she’s focused and ambitious enough to brave the public school system. Others pointed out that Waldorf people tend to be somewhat distrustful of the ‚real world‘ later in life, having spent so much time in that beautiful parallel universe.

So both schools had their perks. The public school offered a larger campus and more interesting extracurricular activities. The Waldorf takes a year longer and final exams are more challenging. Both offer French. It was a process.

To be honest, at some point, I really didn’t care much one way or the other anymore. We wanted to get it over with, and I just needed my daughter to smile again.

So, after sitting down and going over all the pros and cons, color-coding and mind-mapping priorities, and two more days of agonizing, we finally had white smoke, and E. had made her decision: It appears we will be a Waldorf family for a little while longer.

As I said, quite the month.

In other news, I have a new waffle iron. It’s the type that makes square waffles, not round, not rectangular, but square, here, have a look:
IMG_4392I’ve tinkered a bit with various recipes, and have made to date: buttermilk waffles, savory zucchini, feta cheese and herbs waffles (using buckwheat and rye flour), poppyseed waffles, and almond flour and Parmesan cheese waffles. The beauty of this particular waffle maker is not only that it reminds me of America but also that it makes four pieces at a time. So you basically have your batter used up in a matter of 20 minutes, whereas you took more like 40 with my old round-shaped where you could only make one waffle at a time. Sorry for geeking out on you about this, but I’m really having fun with this new toy :-).

Speaking of waffles, I’ve made some progress on the waffle stitch blanket. I’m about six balls of yarn in now.IMG_4440So the last days of school are behind us, and for the next few weeks, I’ll only have work and vacation issues to worry about. I’m looking forward to summer break this year, it feels like we all earned it.

Stay tuned for the first ‚dog and kids by a lake‘ pics next week. Have a lovely end of June, and stay safe, stay healthy, everyone.


Not Politics, just Humanity

IMG_E4408We made the banner above for the march last but last Saturday, and then ended up hanging it from our balcony. Each in our own way, we process what is happening in the United States. From our vantage point thousands of miles away, we watch the appalling violence, and the outrage and pain of the people who say: Enough is enough. No more. Things need to change. In quiet solidarity, we support their demand for equality, justice, and a new era. May their voices be heard. May the terrible tragedies bring better times. May the people vote with their hearts and their brains in the right place this time. We’ll be watching.

So I’ve been following Whitney Cummings‘ podcast Good For You for a few months – if you don’t know her, she’s a bitingly funny, brilliant stand-up comedian, and she’s also _very_ good at getting people to talk – check out her conversations with Dave Grohl of Nirvana, and the Foo Fighters, the lovely Wizard of Schitt’s Creek, Dan Levy, and, more recently, David Oyelowo whom you may have seen as Dr. King in Selma. It’s an awesome interview, and you may come away being a little more thoughtful, and a little more humble, and also a little more angry. We have so much to learn, so we can teach our kids.

We have an African American friend, a beautiful, funny and interesting guy who was one of my son’s baby playgroup kids‘ dad. We lost touch over the years (and a break-up), but I always liked him so much, and am proud to call him a friend. I was reminded of how he told me once after he’d had a skinful that he’d been in jail when he was young. At the time, I was shocked – this dude is a college-educated, kind and well-spoken man who plays tennis and teaches English – and still, he ended up with a criminal record because he did something stupid when he was a kid in Chicago, with the wrong skin color. As a white kid, he would no doubt have gotten away with a fine and a slap on the wrist.

As a first-generation migrant, I feel I have _some_ notion of the otherness people of color are facing on a daily basis, as this country was not a particularly welcoming place when I came here in 1977. But unlike for them, it was, after a few years (going on a lifetime) of assimilation, comparably easy for me to blend in, simply because I don’t look different.

See, I have the luxury of being able to not feel German, even though people rarely notice I’m not. In fact, it takes them by surprise to learn I was born in an Eastern European country. It’s a choice I make, not a necessity, to maintain my otherness, in which I’ve come to find some comfort. An identity that isn’t determined by appearance, first and foremost, but by individual qualities I’ve grown into over the course of fifty years, stuff I’ve learned, things I remember from my childhood, all adding together to what makes me who I am. As my American expat friend J. so aptly put it: I’m not German. I’m not an American anymore either. I’m just me.

So that got deep. Let me add one more thing I encourage everyone to watch if you haven’t seen it already – Dave Chappelle’s 8:46. Who knew Chappelle would make me cry one day.

A word on crafts, before I get back to our pre-summer break madness: I’ve ripped up the color block blanket from two years back,IMG_6648because I didn’t love it anymore. Instead, I’ve started this yarn-eating, yummy waffle-stitch monster:IMG_4440It’s slow going, but I’ve got all summer, right? I’ll prob have to order a few more balls of yarn, but who’s counting! Working on blanket projects when there’s no school is a good thing, in my experience:

Can’t believe I made all those. And yet, when I happen to look in the drawer containing my Gran’s lace knitting and crochet, I can. Some people apparently like to keep their hands busy so they won’t lose their minds. I can’t begin to imagine what life was like for her in WW II – my dad was the only one of her family alive after 1945, two children and her husband gone, as was her comfortable, happy life, her family’s fortune and homes, furniture, art … but I can see her working her way through the horror, the grief and the ugliness, stitch by stitch by stitch. She was a formidable lady with a great sense of humor and a kind heart.

Okay, and there it got dark again. Can’t help myself, apparently, today. Thank you for reading, guys. Have a lovely weekend.