On Growing Up Bilingually, Biculturally, and Bi-Nationally

(Note: This is a post for all you who have wondered what I am and where I am from. This is also a post for all of those unaccepting people who still think I am German. But most and foremost, this is a post for everyone seeking an answer to their bilingual identiy.)

German-American-Flag

It’s said that the strongest story you have to tell is your own story. Everyone has a unique history, an original skill set, and a story behind growing up.

I grew up bilingual with an American father and a German mother. Most people who meet me in the US assume I am American. Most people who meet me in Germany assume I am German. I don’t have an accent when I speak either language. My identity is formed of two cultures. I belong to two great nations and wouldn’t want to give this up for a million.

Most of my childhood and teenage years were spent in Germany. But the first language I ever learned was English. My German was horrible when we were down in New Mexico. At the tender age of 4 ½ half years, my family moved over to Bremerhaven/ Germany and I must have had some difficulties in pronouncing German words and speaking it. But when I was six, I joined the local German elementary school. About 13 years later I was to graduate from the German gymnasium with the highest school degree obtainable in Germany. While all my primary education is based on the German school system, all of my secondary is not. I attended American college by choice and was able to finish with a Bachelor’s degree after 3 ½ years of hard studying.

Needless to say, I love my life. It’s said that the strongest story you have to tell is your own story. Well, I think I started off great when being raised in the way I was. In a bicultural family, life is never boring. It’s not only about the language you speak, but the excitement you feel when dreaming about a life in the other country. And just the fact that you are able to take in both without giving up one another – priceless. At a young age, I felt that my family was different than the ones we were typically surrounded by. Sure, you had the normal military families, who moved around a lot and got to see Japan and Guam. But then you also had the German farmer’s families, who were rather sedentary and settled. You also had similar families like us – one parent German, the other American – whom it was easier to connect to. But by far, we were a minority.

Being raised bilingual certainly had its advantages. Getting ahead of others in school during our English lessons, for one. But it was also the recipe for failure as most teachers expected us, my sisters and me, to be perfect when speaking the language and always turned to us when a classmate didn’t know the answer. In hindsight, I don’t know how I would have handled the situation better. It’s impossible for a child or teenager to know every single word in either of their native languages. I realize that now.

Just like learning a new language takes time and effort, so does maintaining one’s native language. So I started working on it. Reading more books, learning the vocabulary. Because just speaking it wasn’t enough, it took more than that. I also had to work to get rid of my German accent when I spoke English. Going to German schools and exclusively living in Germany had brought that out. I sometimes still have one after a longer stay in the motherland. Not so much after a longer stay in the fatherland.

flags-of-europe

Another advantage of biculturalism is being able to work on two different continents without the hassles of having to apply for a visa. There is no real language barrier to overcome and I don’t have to pick my companies according to their sponsor ship. I suppose this is real freedom: Two continents to go to and two countries to choose from. Life is easier and less complicated in that matter.

Growing up the way I did is a part of my identity, a part of how I define myself. Interestingly enough, psychological research has shown that you can develop two different personalities when you grow up bilingual. At one point, my German one was more dominating, more in my thoughts. Now I have lived here for so long, I tend to think in English most of the time and act in a more American way.

But in a sense, this two-folded personality has preserved my ability to speak two languages. It is easy for me to switch between either one. It is also easy for me not to forget vocabulary or certain pronunciations. When I observe Germans who have lived in the US for an extended time frame, I see signs of them forgetting their native language (but they still speak English with a strong accent). My guess is that this happens because they don’t have the mental practice or because certain brain circuits did not develop in their childhood. All of these are theories of course, not scientifically proven (yet).

Finding one’s identity is a crucial part of life. Mine happens to be German-American. Like other German-Americans, I am to a certain degree more German than American, with others it can be the other way around. But overall, we pretty much form a culture of our one, taking with the best of both nations and applying it to our own cultural mindset.

While I have never seen myself strictly as German or American, other people show problems when it comes to this. It seems that there cannot be a middle way in some folks’ heads. So this question of identity becomes an “issue” when people cannot comprehend the concept and try to shove me into one drawer: Either American OR German. But life is not only black and white. And we, the German-Americans, are a perfect example of yet another gray zone in reality. My identity is not only formed by language, but by culture and a sense of belonging. If someone were to ask me what I felt – more German or American – I’d say more European. After all, I did grow up over there. But I highly suppose so would most Americans, who’ve lived abroad for almost all of their childhood years.

I look at French-Canadians and how well they handle speaking both languages (although with an accent sometimes). If they do not have a problem with their bilingual identity, neither should we.

If I were to have children, I would want to raise them in a similar way. I wouldn’t want to neglect them the privilege of a bilingual and bicultural home. Life has so much more to offer than one simple country, why not bring them closer to both? There are so many advantages when learning languages from an early age. It comes to you more naturally and with less hurdle and thought process. You just know “this is wrong, this sounds right” from deep down in your soul. And of course it also broadens a child’s horizon. Not to mention the ways it opens to living in two different countries without much legal hassle.

german-american-heart

Why It Is a Bad Idea to Take a Peek at Your Future

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Søren Kierkegaard

Lately I’ve been fascinated by fortune-telling and all the facets that go with it. Not out of the blue, of course. In April, I was at a party my African friend had hosted and (how could it else be) he gave his guests the opportunity to have their future foretold by a local palm-reader. She was a native New Yorker but of Russian descent (they always like to put a piece of gypsy history in there) and offered her services anywhere from a 5-minute-personality-reading to a full-blown tarot-card-laying, revealing every facet of one’s future life (health, work, life, love). I opted for the shorter option, a quick palm-reading of my hand.

gypsy-fortune-teller

So far, I’ve only had a palm-reading once before, this was in Central Park shortly after I arrived in New York. The guy was also of gypsy –descent but what I liked about him was the fact that he didn’t read my left hand, which reveals the set path of life, but instead my right hand. “The right symbolizes potential – all that can and will be changed by you throughout your life” he explained. Meaning anything that he would read to me was subject to change eventually.

Well, this woman also read my left hand but she didn’t regard it as potential but more of a set path. She announced a few things of my former life which happened to be true and specified a few of my personality traits. What made her a bit unconvincing was the fact that she did not see any of my creativity at all (I am a freelance photographer and have been drawn to the visual field for a long time) nor did she see that I had been in a long-term relationship for the past 2 years (!). She then went on in predicting a few things here and there of my future, which I’d already had planned out in my head long ago (traveling extensively for one). I decided to not pursue further business with her and leave it at those deciding 5 minutes.

The fact that she had been so right
about one thing but then so wrong about another really puzzled me. Some of the other guests and I discussed our results over Moroccan dinner and drinks afterwards, trying to find out if she had been right mostly. This one guy had a clear theory on how psychics measure their subject. “It’s all about the vibes you emit and the moods you are in,” he said while sipping away on his Sangria.“ – “Look at her, she is exhausted. She is not doing more than being a medium for those vibes and she senses what is currently going on in a person’s life. People make money off of all kinds of gifts, why not of this one?” he concluded.

I truly believe that there are some gifted fortune tellers out there and that this theory makes sense in every possible way. The world is not overly complicated. People have feelings. People display body language. And people emit certain vibes or radiations (if you’ve ever walked into a room where two people have fought and sense the tenseness in the air, you know what I mean). However, I also believe that some palm-readers are not successful at translating these vibes or perhaps they are having a “bad” day in doing so.

Regardless, from the conversation and my past experience with psychics (mostly in New York), I’ve formed a question in my head. It is not one of “which fortune-teller do I go to.” It is more about “do I want to know my future.” It’s been the question I have been asking myself ever since I’ve come in touch with palm-readers, card-layers and perhaps even astrology. I am not alone in seeking a meaning to life. My life. The obsessions with one’s path has been about as old as everything else in humankind. Some people are even so pre-occupied with knowing their future that they will pay thousands of dollars to go to a “celebrity” fortune teller. Or drop a high sum for their personalized astrology horoscope.

image credit goes to http://palmreadingexpert.wordpress.com/
image credit goes to http://palmreadingexpert.wordpress.com/

Knowing the future can take anxiety away, I get it. It might ease away the restless nights when one thinks about how life will develop and if everything will be okay. But do we really want to know how many children we will have, when we will marry and if our career will excel? The ups and downs we will be going through, the joys and pains we will experience in a life ahead of us?

It’s an old controversy I’ve been fighting for a long time. Every time I am going through a rough patch and imagine how things would be a year from now, I have to consciously halt myself. My life has changed immensely over the course of the past 5 years. Had I known with 21 that soon I’d be living in New York, writing and photographing away, would I have put as much effort into my life the way I had to so that I could get to this point? If I were to know that I’d be living in a different country in 5 years from now or be married and have children, would I be wondering every day of my life if this is the day things “changed”?
No, I would be living on borrowed time. In a rather sad way, too.

The truth with the future is: It’s complicated. Ways are intertwined in a way no one can comprehend by simply looking at it or reading one’s palm. The past, present, and future work in a unison, carrying over self-doubt, pre-conceived notions and confidence from past experience to present ideas and then making them happen in the future. Shaping one’s own future begins now and has already started in previous times more than we could imagine. Trying to overcome the fear of the uncertain by predicting one’s future is like missing out on the best part of a party: The unexpected. The dangerous undertone that underlies each adventure. The happiness you can feel when experiencing simple things. And living life in the present moment.

Returning to the fortune-teller in the beginning: She successfully displayed personality traits I had and hadn’t known of. But so far the future she outlined for me has not proven to be true (the cut-off for a certain life event was in June, which is almost over). The future is displayed in an on-going, ever-changing flux. To predict it accurately is nearly impossible. I therefore do not hold it against her abilities that some things were true and some were not. But I’ve also decided to quit this ‘nonsense’ and actively create my future the way I want it to be. To the best of my capabilities.

image credit goes to http://russianmind.com/content/russians-and-future
image credit goes to http://russianmind.com/content/russians-and-future

The Annual Mermaid Parade: Colors, Costumes, and Chaos

mermaid parade 2013 - 11

Coney Island is already a pretty eventful spot by itself. The beach area hosts the Annual Hotdog Eating Contest on 4th of July, America’s biggest holiday. The Hotdog contest originated at the one and only Nathan’s and to date draws thousands of physical visitors to Coney in addition to millions of live viewers in front of the TV. Aside from it having a fantastic amusement park with more and more major attractions added each year, it is also home to the oldest wooden roller coaster in the US: the famous Cyclone. I once made the “mistake” of paying $8 for a ride that lasted 1 ½ minutes (beware, I heard they upped the price to $9 now) and came tumbling out of my cart soon after. I can see how some people complain about back pain after but it was certainly worth the experience and I can only recommend you trying it out if you are in the area.

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Coney and its neighborhood have been struck by the fatal Sandy, like so many other parts in Brooklyn and Queens close to the ocean. It went through its own process of rebuilding and -construction. As I have been fervidly following its Facebook tweed, I have seen the great progress it made from November 2012 until May 2013, when it re-opened its shining gates to yet another wild season. Every year, Luna Park is scheduled to open fully on Memorial Day Weekend and to close around the Hollow’s Eve weekend. Aside from its many attractions, a significant parade has been an important part of Coney’s repertoire for the past 31 years: The one and only Mermaid Parade!

mermaid parade 2013 - 10

Now what exactly is this Parade about? It is held during the month of June, specifically around the weekend of June 21, as it symbolizes the beginning of summer. While at first I thought it was a Lesbian/Gay Parade aimed towards expanding Brooklyn’s repertoire to a fancy version of it, I did further research and found I was very wrong in this initial impression. The Mermaid Parade has three purposes, stated on its homepage: “It brings mythology to life for local residents who live on streets named Mermaid and Neptune ; it creates self-esteem in a district that is often disregarded as “entertainment”; and it lets artistic New Yorkers find self-expression in public.” Yes, you do see some gay floats and groups dance around in the crowd. But then you also have families dressing up with their children, floats of political statements driving through the crowd and drunken bystanders peeling out of their octopus costumes.

mermaid parade 2013 - 2

For whatever reason, I didn’t find out about the Mermaid Parade until I had already lived here for 2 years. By pure coincidence, I had gotten off the train on a Saturday afternoon in June 2012 and immediately fell into a great chaos of loud obnoxious screaming drunken masses of people. Now, don’t’ get me wrong, Coney has the reputation of being always drunken and partly ghetto when it comes to its people. After all, the projects are right next to the amusement park. Way back in the 20s and 30ies it must have been a pretty beach but with Moses’ Housing Project, things drastically changed in the 60ies and 70ies. Such is New York, and mostly Brooklyn, all of this makes out its initial sketchy appeal with a flavor of exoticism mixed under it.

mermaid parade 2013 - 5 car mermaids

But in the past few years, Coney has developed into one of the hottest tourist sightseeing spots and uppedy white people bring their kids here occasionally. However, this year it was very extreme and Sandy might have played a part in all of this. Through a humongous Kickstarter Campaign, the parade was able to initiate $100,000 in funds and donations, therefore still partaking. The final decision was made at the end of May and everyone was thrilled!

My friend donated to the Kickstarter Campaign and received this scribbled piece of paper in exchange....
My friend donated to the Kickstarter Campaign and received this scribbled piece of paper in exchange….

So the Parade seemed exactly what you would think of it with about a month’s time to prepare: Chaotic, sometimes long-stretched, and mostly not very original in costumes. Sure, you had some really great groups, you had an awesome local trumpet band, and you had creative floats. But during some intervals you had random families walk through the scene, holding children who were dressed up in a green blob as Mermaids and waving at the crowd. Not.very.original.at.all.

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mermaid parade 2013 - 8

Overall, I was glad to have seen the parade for the first time in full. It generated a huge crowd towards Coney during that weekend and that’s exactly what this area needed (bring in the money, hey!). However, after one hour of blinking into the blinding sun and looking at a few boring groups in the parade, my friends kinda had enough and went to a bar close to the subway station. Our luck that it wasn’t as overcrowded as after the parade. We only had to wait one hour for the food (does not include ordering, which took 30 minutes).

mermaid parade 2013 - 1

Another group of friends joined us and was keen on checking out the boardwalk. The parade stretches from the main street all the way around and comes back over the boardwalk so I already predicted us getting stuck at some point. True enough, we couldn’t even cross the main street to get to our beloved Nathan’s, as police only let us do so in 15-minute-intervals. Once we were there, we saw how long the line was to order a petty hotdog (more than one hour!). My friends were not thrilled by this idea and wanted to check out the food options on the boardwalk. So we went through the entire amusement park, just to get stuck, literally, in a massive crowd of people on the boardwalk. No way we’d get food here, either.

All I see is PEOPLE!
All I see is PEOPLE!

Somehow we made it back to the bar, the entire excursion taking us over 1 hour, which normally wouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes. Just to give you an idea of how crowded it was. So the parade was over by then and friend group number 1 (number 2 had successfully vanished in the subway station) was fed, drunk, and ready to check out the beach. Which happened to be swamped by unhealthy corpses of party people (big surprise here). We were in the sand, packed like sardines in a can, while a few of my friends jumped into the water (they assured me it was only cold for the first 10 seconds or so) but were freezing once a high wind hit us on the beach.

Beach "fun"!
Beach “fun”!

After another hour of lying around in a rave-like atmosphere we had enough of the fact that sand was being kicked in our faces every five seconds minutes and went off to the boardwalk. It was here that my foot hit a fatal plank, which tore my sole apart wounded it painfully. After dripping water on it, I decided it would be best to just go home and treat it under more normal conditions and with rubbing alcohol. My friends stayed and I am sure they had a drunkenly fun time…

So, in conclusion, the Mermaid Parade can be great fun and a once-in-lifetime experience. It’s worth taking tons of meaningless colorful pictures. Be aware of loose planks on the boardwalk. And make sure you get your 12-hour-sleep thereafter!

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mermaid parade 2013 - 9

How the Barclays Center Changed Park Slope

The Barclays Center during sunset
The Barclays Center during sunset

Since I moved to New York, many things have changed. Some restaurants closed down which were blooming 3 years ago. Areas have become gentrified and the so-called-hood of Bushwick slowly turned into Hipster-area. Change is natural and in a city as big as New York, it happens on a much faster scale than anywhere else in the world. This is something I’ve always known and always come to love. But sometimes I just wish that things wouldn’t change as rapidly, especially in the area I am currently living at.

I moved into my new apartment about a year ago. When I moved here, the Barclays Center (described by wiki as “a multi-purposed indoor area”) was still under its way of being built up. It was a hideous line of construction running across the entire beginning section of Flatbush Avenue. For the 2 years since I came here until last year, all I could do is first ignore it and then wonder what on earth was going on when walking past it. A little research on my part and stories from an old New Yorker revealed a more than hideous story behind the (almost a) decade-long project the city had going on: Initially purchased in 2004 with the intention to build a Brooklyn-centered stadium for the NETS (who are not even from New York but New Jersey) it had been halted several times during its construction. Local residents, caring citizens, and larger groups of demonstrators made sure to extend the project with protests revolving around “eminent domain.” Eminent domain refers to a private property being taken for public use by state.

8 Barclays Center Brooklyn at night

You can see many examples of eminent domain throughout New York, especially in Brooklyn. Take a large part of the Williamsburg waterfront, for example. Take all those hideous condos blocking the neighbors’ view towards Manhattan and disfiguring the Brooklyn skyline. Not to mention the large project going on in Greenpoint right now, which includes further condo building and gentrifying of a neighborhood that once used to be traditional Polish. You might ask yourselves what condos have to do with public use (and you are not alone in this opinion). Bloomberg decided it would do the neighborhood good to have some high-income housing available so that the tax money can be used for poorer neighborhoods.
The city has systematically kicked out residents who were in ownership of their smaller apartments for decades, leaving them to decide where to move next. How does the government get out of it? There are a few ways but the most popular one is to claim that they will let a certain percentage of socially disadvantaged people live in these new housing “projects.” Which coincidentally never happens once the millionaires decide to buy it all up.

6 Barclays Center Brooklyn at night

Back to the Barclays Center: The neighborhood was clearly upset about what was going on and had regular protest a few times a month. I once saw one when walking home from the subway station: A smallish group with signs in their hands who were furiously trying to get in the way of a bulldozer. What used to be projects and buildings owned by private people, has been reduced to rubble within a few months only. Century-old townhouses and projects which were once homes for Brooklynites – demolished in a relatively short time frame.

Well, as you can tell, protesting hasn’t helped much other than increasing public awareness and getting a news channel out here once in a while. So the Barclays was doomed to open at what must have been the end of September. The glorious Jay-Z performed on its opening night and several weeks thereafter. The Nets prepared for a good season. The subway ads were covered in pictures of young basketball players and their infamous quotes.

10 Barclays Center Brooklyn close up

I once ran into a group of New Jersey people who were all dressed in white and drunkenly stumbling around the neighborhood, looking for a bar. They answered my curious question on their dress code by pointing out that there was an “all-white” house party going on in the Barclays, which they had been looking forward to for months. I wished to never see such a sight again… Oh how wrong I was! Not only did a new bar open up last August right across the street from where I live (the one and only KBH).
We also have a regular influx of Long Islanders, New Jerseyians, and other tourists overpopulating our area on random days of the week. My once favorite go-to-bistro has increased its prizes steadily ever since the monstrosity opened up. Bars and restaurants have switched their waiters for better customer service, which I approve of, but it’s seriously no fun to enjoy chips and guac if you have a screaming group of drunk Long Island chicks sitting next to you.

I sometimes feel transformed back into Manhattan, most likely the Lower East Side. In a way, the Barclays Center can be described as the Times Square of Brooklyn: it’s becoming more and more of a “landmark” attracting all the wrong people. Nowadays I always freak out when I hear German in my neighborhood. I used to be curious how these tourists heard about Park Slope but now I just sneer at them and try to be as rude as possible. “Perhaps that will get them out eventually,” was my initial thought. It doesn’t seem like it.

An obnoxious amount of people in front of Brooklyn's Times Square
An obnoxious amount of people in front of Brooklyn’s Times Square

Now, in addition to the added stream of strangers in the neighborhood, the Barclays Center also happens to look quite hideous. If it at least had a classic appearance or a great architecture, I might be able to ignore all the tumult going on in the area. But no, it sticks out like a sore thumb in the crowd of appealing town houses. Its steel roof looks quite unfinished and a blinking hole in between makes it appear like an out of space invention. I’m sure it’s meant to be great modern architecture but so far I haven’t heard of anyone that it looks like art.

Well, what can I say? Rents have already looped up to a sky-rocketing price. What used to be affordable has now turned into one of the biggest real estate markets in town. I just hope I’ll be able to survive here for a little longer, because on normal weekdays, this neighborhood really ROCKS. And an added treat is the better customer service at Target, which was always one of the least friendly stores in town. Now if I could only remember to get off at “Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center” which used to be called “Pacific Street” when taking the subway… Phewww!

The dubious hole
The dubious hole

10 Barclays Center Brooklyn close up

[For more pictures, go to The Barclays Center in Brooklyn (night view).]

Spending My Birthday in DC

birthday picture in front of the white house in june

Two weeks ago I spent my 26th birthday in a fine city I’ve come to experience before. The one and only DC had only been worthy of one trip so far, back in 2011, where I had a humongous blast staying in a hostel and committing to a sightseeing-marathon. So for the most important day of the year, I already knew I wanted to get away from this city. I couldn’t be bothered with the hectic bustle’n’hustle of Nueva York but wanted to simply do something culturally appealing. A day trip to DC seemed like the right fit and so it was.

After spending some excruciating five hours on the Chinatown bus (read more on this bus here), we were finally dropped off in the midst of, well, Chinatown, of course. Now Chinatown in DC is a bit different than anywhere else in NY. It appears to be pretty much in the middle of town and very close to all sightseeing attractions, such as the White House, the National Mall, and the quazillion amounts of Memorials. So what could my first stop possibly be after a nerve-wrecking bus ride on my birthday? You named it! McDonalds! Yes, I know, perhaps not the first choice in culinary experiences. I also managed to snag two slices of pizza at We, the Pizza in the evening hours, which didn’t add to an elevated experience in gourmet foods.

Turkish protest in front of the White House
Turkish protest in front of the White House

However, I was here for the culture. And culture I got to see plenty! First, of course an obligatory stop at the White House. Always fun to watch the famous brick walls and wondering what might be going on inside. And as in two years ago, another protest was held outside of the gates. This time it had to do with Gezi-Park and the inhuman conditions going on in Istanbul. A nice crowd of Turkish protestors had gathered together, with a heap of onlookers and picture-takers.

Then off to the next stop on my personalized birthday tour: The World War II Memorial and its sparkling fountain! Not without forking over 2 dollars for a small bottle of water at most likely one of the only ice cream vendors lurking around the National Mall. I know, you guys can charge that much because everyone was suffering under a heat stroke, but seriously?

Yes, as you might have figured, it was hot. If not hotter as hot. Albeit not as humid as in New York. Which didn’t make sense to me, especially after my roommate later proclaimed that DC was built on swampland (new information learned each day). Perhaps Manhattan cages the heat in between its skyscrapers. However, the National Mall in DC does not have a lot of shadow because of the lack of trees. So just keep that in mind if you’re going on a trip in the summer.

Reflecting Pool
Reflecting Pool

Anyhow, the first day of June was a fine day for sticking my feet into the Reflecting Pool at the Memorial. Like dozens of other exhausted visitors, too. And here comes the tricky part: You can put your feet in and act respectful but you are not allowed to jump up and down, walk around in the water or even carry a bride through it for a good picture! One of those six Park Rangers swarming around the area made sure to warn us when we sunk our feet in the cooling water. And he didn’t make an exception for the young bride and her groom, who were ushered around by their photographer. As soon as they wanted to pose with their bridal party for what would have possibly been a superb memorable picture, he already came hurrying out of the shadows and intervened. Poor wedding couple! And they had been so good blinking into the blinding sun just moments before because their photographer had thought this to be a great shot!

Young Wedding Party at the World War II Memorial
Young Wedding Party at the World War II Memorial

After cooling off and facing the sweltering heat once again, I decided to bypass all the other memorials (the Lincoln for one) I had already seen the last time and went to the National Mall. My goal was to get a peek at a few museums I didn’t get the chance to see in 2011. I entered the Museum of National History (not without zipping and unzipping multiple bags for security) and made a round past the ancient Star-Spangled Banner. It had been sown together by multiple pieces of cloth during the war of 1812 and after the battle some soldiers had decided to cut themselves a share. Such as a star, which was missing in one corner.

air and space museum in dc

While this was an entertaining museum, the most time I did indeed spend in the Air and Space Museum just a walking distance down the road. From the history of the first man-built plane to great accomplishments in aeronautics – everything there was worth seeing.

My impression of DC’s museums so far? They are all for free, which is great. But they also tend to be a bit smaller than let’s say the Met in New York. At the same time, you have a diversity of different topics so close to each other and how could you possibly become bored of those choices? Definitely worth checking out!

The one and only Capitol
The one and only Capitol

My last stop on this spectacular tour was once again the Capitol. A few snapshots here and there and then I was over it. They have a beautiful garden you can walk. And on that particular evening there must have been a high school prom happening, as excited teenagers were posing in nice gowns and made-up appearances.

And finally, a drink at a bar in Capitol Hill with a dear friend I hadn’t seen in over a year. A nice momentum to end a birthday celebration. On our way back to Chinatown we ran into a bunch of people who were running a marathon. At 11 o’clock at night! Well, I guess craziness exists everywhere.

Luckily the bus ride back was relatively uneventful (except for an old Russian guy who loudly talked on his cell phone) and I was back in 3 ½ hours. A set record so far!

While I thought DC was already quite right for a visit back in March of ’11, this time around I was happy to have seen it during a warm summer month. Even though the cherry blossom weeks were over, other flowers had bloomed and it was gorgeous in a different sense. I also liked the fact that I was able to spend the entire day outside instead of having to warm up somewhere. I’m not sure how hot July and August get, but so far June has been the most perfect month!

[For more pictures on DC go to my Facebook page or
A Picture Every Day: A Trip to Washington DC and A Trip to Washington DC (Part 2)
]

To Summer – The Fun Season

summer in dumbo rain

There is something strangely reassuring about early morning sports. Be it running in the park or doing a boot camp class outdoors – it’s a great feeling to keep myself fit. Even better to do so in the wilderness of nature or next to the Manhattan skyline.

Summer is here! Rainy lately, but here nonetheless! So far I’ve completed three boot camp classes already within the past week. Yesterday we worked out in the rain; it really did feel like a military drill then. People were on their way to work and must have wondered what we were doing: A group of ten athletes just jumping up and down and lifting heavy stones over our heads…

I am also ready for the beach. Have been there a couple of times already during this season. It’s just not super-sunshiny weather wise. The water was freezing cold when I dipped my foot in it. I hope things become warmer eventually.

summer in gowanus brooklyn

I snapped this picture while strolling through Gowanus and Carrol Gardens the other day. Oh how peaceful the sun rays look in the evening of a sparkling summer day. I don’t know what to do come October but currently I want this weather to last forever!

People say spring is a new beginning. I believe every season brings a new attitude, a new idea, a new creation into mind. Especially since spring only exists for a few weeks out of the year here in New York. So I devote this post to summer and a new life. And new hopes and new opportunities. Hello from the Big Apple!