Magister dixit

“She took all things of life for hers to choose from and apportion, as though she were continually picking out presents for herself from an inexhaustible counter.”

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

*Photo by John Reynolds


A series of unfortunate events

 We all know those days in which bad news seem to pile up, happy plans crumble and Murphy's law acts relentlessly over you. Yesterday was one of those days. The recount of the events:

- 07:00 - 

I finally decided to stop being a lazy ass and start jogging in the mornings. Ambitious as I am in almost every  freaking aspect of my life, I stablished a 3 km route that I cover in 17 minutes. The first two days I managed to do that surprisingly well, specially for someone who is a regular smoker (although not a heavy one) and hadn't done any real workout in year and half (and over three years if you don't count month-long stints as "real workout"). 

I attributed my physical condition to my fucking Spartan-like genes (thanks, Dad!); then, on the third time,  my body most probably thought something like "What is this? I thought the other time was an emergency so I played along, but you are seriously planning to do this in a daily basis whithout any proper conditioning? Seriously? Hell, no!". Long story short, after 15 minutes I ended up with severe cramps in my lower abdomen, light headed and afterwards threw up on a nearby bush. Glamourous.

- 10:00 - 

As I was signing up to use some equipment in the lab, one of my labmates greeted me with a letter from the Institute's administration, that states (in BIG, red letters) that I have not paid for the month of june in my previous temporary accommodation and that I should pay immediately. The bill is for 195 euros. "This is ridiculous, I already paid for that like a month ago!" So I went and retrieved my deposit receipts in order to scan them and send them with some kind of "Ha-ha!" note to the administration, when I realised the horror: In the payment for the month of june, I missed a "0" at the end of the bank account number. Then I panicked thinking that I sent money to the wrong account number, so this money was probably already gone. It was not like that: turns out that the bank detected the missmatch and returned my transfer one day after I did it, and I never noticed. So somewhere along the way I spent them. Oh. Now I am 195 euros short on my budget. 


The guy that is supposed to be my scientific sideckick in the lab is very distant. Our schedules coincide only rarely, and after a few tests I've verified that, unless I start conversation with him, he would never speak to me. Which is strange, given that at the beginning we used to have lunch together and have nice little chats, but somehow we grew apart. He is extremely self centered (yes! that coming from me, just imagine) and he is (or at least, says he is) busy all-the-fucking time. Very seldom, I go to him and ask him for things, and today was one of those days. I needed some cells to use in my experiment, and asked him for them. "Why don't you make your own?" I told him that I was making some, but needed even more cells for this experiment. Then, the cherry on top of the cake: "I can give some to you, but not now, because I am stressed". Yes, he did say that. Sometimes he can be a real man-bitch.

He made a faint smile and almost by reflex I smiled back. Then I started my daily work while I brooded over my anger. I don't take this kind of crap from nobody, not even from my boyfriend, so why should I take it from him? I'm not going to wait until he is in the mood to provide his minimal help. From now on, I will do everything myself, even if it takes longer due to my inexperience.


I realise that the cells I intended to use for tomorrow's experiment are all dead. This will put my experiment back for one week. Great.


Get an e-mail from my mother, telling me that my pet rabbit is very sick and she needs to be taken for examination. I feel so bad to be this far away and unable to do anything about it.


At this point, I finally decide to go home before a fucking anvil falls down on me...


A pot of tea and a good book was the best medicine for this kind of day. Moon Palace: a blend of green teas from India, Japan and Ceylon with a vanilla-citrus natural aroma. Soothing to the senses and the spirit...

Emilie Autumn, you gothic nymph, die Teufelsgeigerin... how much wisdom can be found in your words.




Signs of life

Ticked off my reading list, at last... this plunge into the mind of Esther Greenwood (and, for that, Plath herself) during her time in the bell jar brings back sour memories from the first months of my 25th year in this planet. Where is that elusive point of no return, when you finally slip away? What makes the differences between dim hope and bottomless despair? If untreated, depression can become a terminal illness.

The genius of Waters. Such an inspiration seeing him at 67, gray hair and wrinkles, showing the same passion for his music as he had at 36.

One of my latest adquisitions is this flower shaped tea strainer. So beautifully unneeded, like all the items from the shop it came from. The cat is a timer.

Shopping saturday. Göttingen.

Recently, I came across Webstagram, a web interface for your Instagram account that allows you to share your picture timeline via web, and not only through your smartphone/iPod. The system lets other users comment, share and also search for photos with specific tags and keywords. I might give it a try...

See you soon! And enjoy the last day of summer... I know I will.



Moving abroad is much more than a new apartment and a new subway card. It’s a total change, a shift of what seems important, a questioning of priorities and this series of small shocks that you can’t really talk about when they come because there’s no perspective. You don’t yet understand them.

I've just read that in this blog. Describes the exact feeling in such a transparent way.

Nevertheless, I have to say that I found an oasis in my new white walled, IKEA furnished appartment. I finally got a flat for myself to rent (WITHOUT sharing, so no annoying roomates to deal with), and I'm loving it. It's such a curious feeling, to feel in your own space, to be able to close the door and know that you can do pretty much whatever the fuck you want. That you can come here at night and truly relax; that you can slowly shape this place to match your taste and indulge your quirks. To be able to go out and walk around, and know this is your neighbourghood. I feel like I finally live in Berlin.

 My new fortress is in Wedding, which I know it's not as hip as Kreuzberg or Neukölln, but it is quiet and cheap and close to my work, as well as the city (from here I can get almost everywhere within 20-40 minutes) and I'm absolutely content with that, at least for now. Also, my sorroundings are quite nice to look at, and I have basically everything within walking distance. As a bonus point, one girl at a party told us the other day that some people -like her boyfriend- are talking about how the inexorable gentrification is pushing the scene out of the aforementioned hip districts, and all the cool indie people is moving here; as a consequence, soon Wedding will be "the new place to be". However, she immediately added that these people have been saying that for the last three or four years, so I would not hold my breath...

I guess I shall wait for it (like I have a choice, ahaha), if it ever happens.




Sysiphos, or the future of clubbing.

... continues from this post.

After basically outhipstering everyone by having Abkhazian for dinner, we headed to Kreuzberg with the intention to spend the night drinking and chatting at Golgatha, but on our way there, a better plan came out: one of my (few) german friends called me and told me that there was this cool party at this really cool place called Sysiphos in Friedrichshain, so we decided to meet there.

Turned out the place was in the middle of nowhere. The nearest train station was like 2 km away, and no tram was running after 11:30 p.m., so we had to walk. These really looked like the city's ripped backsides, unkempt, lonely and dirty. When we finally got there, an assorted crowd of hipsters, glittered electro fans, yukis and cool kids was already gathering outside the venue. Lights, music and fire filtered through the doors, soothing our tired and anxious mood. And I was definitely mollified when, one day after my 26th birthday, the bouncer asked me for an ID to let me in.

Inside it was like an urban warehouse-style wonderland. A few people were hanging out inside what it seemed like a hybrid between a circus cage and a vintage train wagon; a small, beach-like space faced the illuminated bar. Everywhere, rickety furniture and shoddy improvised seats and tents lodged the drinking and smoking attendees. A couple of installations marked the way to the dancefloor, inside the warehouse. It was beautiful: lights and intense neon colors contrasting with the deep darkness, between industrial columns and old walls, while the people there danced energically. We joined them and danced non-stop for about an hour.

I like dancing to Electro, but is just not my kind of music; it gets repetitive to me very fast, and more sooner than later I get tired of the rhythm because I feel like I've been dancing to the same song for half an hour. But it was quite fun, it was my first real dance in a long time. One thing that is also liberating about dance clubs here in Germany, is that you can really let go and never feel like you are making a fool of yourself (more on that later, let's just say that my boyfriend can't dance, but most German people make him look like John Travolta on the dance floor).

I didn't get to take any pictures, but if you are curious, apparently this is what it looks like in broad daylight:

(Pictures by Claudio from iheartberlin, and Stylons)
I have to say, by night it looks more... magical.

Around 3:00 we decided to leave, and one of my friends told me: "Stay, we will party until the trains start running again at 6, party until it's bright!" Which to our ears sounded quite like a Syshiphean task at the moment, being burned out from the day before. Besides, the way back home was about 90 minutes long (yes, my temporary accommodation was that far away), so we said goodbye and left.

When we finally got to my place, it was already bright.

One must imagine Sisyphus happy.



Happy birthday to me, or how to survive your first birthday abroad...

Me: One day I'll look back at this picture and say: Look, kids! This was on my 26th birthday!
Boyfriend: Why! And your kids will say "Mom, can't believe how slim you were!"

(ha-ha. I hate you.)

That's right. Last week it was my birthday. In all honesty, I wasn't expecting anything at all, given the fact that I've been far, far away from the people who actually care about me (most of them being in Mexico), and also being the new kid on the lab, the likelihood of someone knowing the date of my birthday (and doing something about it) is somewhere between improbable and impossible.

Surprisingly, it turned out to be one of the best birthdays I've had to date. Dear boyfriend and I decided to celebrate it in Berlin, because of what it represents to me: one of the biggest achievements of my life, the beginning of a new and exciting adventure, and a most needed reminder that I can do anything I set my mind to. I managed to come here through a incredibly intense process where I had to be smart, trust my abilities and play better than anyone else, and really put myself out there (you know, "Lose yourself" Eminem-style and all that); in the end, I nailed it. So, there's a nice background for celebration.

One of my labmates is the sweetest and kindest girl ever (a sort of Miwako from Parakiss), she coached me in the very beginning when I had no idea of how the work of the lab was done, and also helped me a lot to finally get a flat for myself. After stating my date of birth on the lease agreement for the flat, she realised it was that very same day (yes! Coincidentally, I finally got an apartment to rent as a birthday present), and in a matter of two hours, she managed to produce a birthday card signed by all the people in the lab and a piece of cake, which she left at my place for me to find:

Isn't that lovely?
  At lunch time I received a call from two of my good friends from Mexico, who now live in Lisboa. It was completely unexpected, we had a really funny chat, and it really moved me that they still care so much, even though we are quite far away now. I felt very lucky to have friends like them. Around 5 in the afternoon, the boyfriend was finally here, and we headed to make the first toast of the day with -what else- Schlängenbiss, at Hops & Barley's (remember this post?). After that, we headed to La Pulquería, as I craved for a (real!) mexican meal after being tortured on a daily basis with the creamy-fattening-insipid and overall bland food served at the Clinic's cafeteria (more on that later). I had a glorious Sopa Azteca, and Tacos de Bistec with salsa. The boyfriend? Enchiladas de Mole served in a rather elegant way (unseen in Mexico, where taste is all that matters):

We finished the night in a Shisha Bar in Friedrichshain (I forgot what the name was), where we relaxed alternating refreshing drinks with the smooth, watermelon-flavored smoke. 

The next day, I also had lots of birthday messages on facebook, beating my personal mark on birthday wishes received so far. My family also sent good wishes via e-mail, since I cannot skype with them yet. Dear boyfriend and I went to a fancy salon to get much needed haircuts. The stylist who cut my hair (he was called Konstantinos, because you know, stylists can never have names like Chuck or Gabe) did it with german millimetric precision: countless iterations of measuring, trimming and texturing. The cut took over two hours to be finished, but the result was flawless. It is the same style as I had before (long with long layers), but improved to a whole new level, and it makes the colored bits in my hair stand out.

Since we were in the neighbourghood, we decided to try a highly unknown cuisine: Abkhazian. The restaurant was called "Bei Violetta", and I, being such a fan of Xavier Velasco's "Diablo Guardián", just knew it was meant to be. The food was really good and interesting; similar to greek food, but with an unfamiliar twist that makes it unique: walnut sauce, little sacs made of pasta-like cooked dough with a delicious meat filling, fresh mashed kidney beans salad with a touch of pomegranate. The Georgian wines (he had red, I had white) that accompanied the meal were superb. The company of the owner's son, who joined us after the meat for a chat, was delightful. He even spoke a few words of spanish (damn us and our non-existent german speaking skills).

[to be continued...]


Our time is running out...

- * -

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say...

- * -



Postcards from the Future

It's been a while since my last post in The Passenger's Diaries, a.k.a. "The Blog that Nobody Reads".

Rather than pitying this poor and lonely forgotten piece of writing, I prefer to look at it as a crystal hidden in the stone waiting to be discovered: the triumph in the occurrence of beauty against mathematical improbability...

With the acquisition of my beautiful Violetta, a white iPhone 4, emerged the possibility of documenting each episode by taking quick snapshots of the scenes that compose each unexplored day. Instagram has become my new vice: Polaroids for the 21st century. Still I'd rather own the real thing...

Full speed, half blind. Train arriving on a Friday. Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

Lazy Sunday Morning.

Modern Fairytale.
Retro-clinician. This fine gentleman caught my attention as he was leaving Campus.

The Fitzgeralds of the Third World. Visual testimony of our hedonistic weekends.
Summer solstice.
Auf Wiedersehen...



A splash of color on grey

Oh my life is changing everyday
Every possible way
Though my dreams, it’s never quite as it seems
Never quite as it seems

 So far, life in Berlin has been saturated with ambivalent feelings and drastic contrast. Sometimes I feel on the verge of anxiety, a crushing feeling of loneliness, which can only be accurately portrayed by this clip of Misery Bear:

And then, one sunny but fresh afternoon I go out for drinks with my first girlfriend here (i.e. a girl who is also my friend) and have a great time talking about life and the sweet and sour adventures of living on your own, and how we -young adults- are all neotenic these days.

One day I feel completely incompetent, oblivious and underquialified regarding the theoretic background for my new project and the skills required to carry it out, and the other I find myself at a top-class conference, impressing a cool Russian guy with my diluted knowledge on Russian literature and films.

At the aforementioned conference, I got confirmation on my suspicion regarding the reason why I have succeeded so far on having a normal social life despite being esencially a loner, an often mediocre first impression and a socially awkward person. The quid is, I'm not one to look for friends, and it usually takes me a considerable amount of time to adapt to my classmates/colleagues (as most of the time I feel we have little in common); but, for whatever reason, people just tend to approach me. I sat by miself in a corner of the garden, or stood up drinking my tea, oblivious of the happenings around me, and then, lo and behold! Someone approaches and starts conversation with me.

It's like negative reciprocal of the Law Of Attraction: looks like I attract good things with a negative attitude. Take that, Rhonda Byrne.

In the past few weeks, and without making any effort, I managed to stumble upon and go out with a couple of very kind and interesting people who definitely have great friend potential (luckily, I got myself once again into one of this "What in earth did I do for this person to like me so much?" kind of situation). But luck can only get you so far. You cannot just sit in a corner looking dark and misterious and hope for a bunch of interesting people to come close and talk to you. Most of the time, it doesn't work that way. Specially when they are complete strangers.

I want my life here to bloom like it never did before: do the things I always wanted to do, meet the people I've always wanted to meet, visit the places I've always wanted to see. Get knowledge. Get experience. Get sophisticated.

Also, trying new things is good for your brain. And I always love a new challenge. Let's get started!




See the new moon rising...

Tonight, a blood moon will rise over Berlin.

You know what's funny? Watching tourists and their desperate efforts to try to get a picture of themselves and fit the entire Fernsehturm (TV Tower) as a background. Man, some of them get really creative, but in the end all of them realize is impossible and give in.

I salute you -live!- from Alexander Platz's Starbucks, at the very heart of the German capital, the Fernsehturm right above me. I'm not one to endorse monster chains of fast-food, and certainly not one that feels specially proud to sit here and consume their (bland) products (unlike my friend next to me, who's busy getting her picture taken next to the Starbucks sign because apparently she travelled all the way to Berlin to be photographed chilling at the same coffee-making monster corporation she can find at home- get real, lady).

I am here because I am still homeless, and that means no internet access (gasp!) either.  Which is one of the reasons for the very slow posting these days.

Still, there's many exciting things coming soon, starting tomorrow, with Roger Waters' "The Wall", the legendary show that I missed in Mexico, but now I have the opportunity to witness in the only city in the world were this stale metaphor adquires a most special feeling; coincidentally, the wall will be right there, standing next to us as we listen ecstatic to the magic chords. You cannot ask for more. Oh, no, wait, you can! I demand David Gilmour playing the solo for Comfortably Numb (pleaaaaaasseeeee... so not happening, but hope dies last, right?). I only hope we didn't get scammed by the guy who sold us the tickets, or there will be a small tragedy of Sophoclean proportions tomorrow.

 On june 21, the streets will be soaked in musical bliss, as the Fête de la Musique hits the town (well, every town, actually). For me it's a great oportunity to grasp a little of the vibrant musical scene in this city, still awaiting to be discovered. I need to either choose wisely, or wander like a nomad until I find something I like, but definitely looking forward to it!

Additionally, there's parties and festivals every weekend, so there's plenty to choose from. This weekend the 48 Stunden Neukölln Festival calls my name. Next weekend there's Exberliner's 9th Anniversary Party at Monster Ronson's, which I may attend...

Anyway, here I am when I should be looking at flats to rent, hmmm... time to go!



Weekend out, part II


A walk through Friedrichshain

Sunny parks and people sitting on the grass while charging batteries. Also, assorted shops offering interesting and fun clothes and accessories, scattered through a stylishly relaxed, inspiring, and friendly neighborhood. 

Small Coffee Shops with cozy spaces and outside benches where you can drink your Chai Latte, or eat simple but well presented tasty food, while having good conversation and looking at the other characters roaming the street in their cool and effortless attires.

I love how in Berlin you can go out for a little shopping adventure and always find a treasure or two. It’s like you only need to say: “I need a cool ___add any noun here___, and it materializes before your eyes! (and no, I'm not "manifesting" stuff with the power of my good wishes, you goddamn new wave hippies...).

Boat spotting! Spree river

A great (and cheap!) way to waste a weekend afternoon (although time that you enjoy wasting  is never wasted time): Get a cold beer, cigarettes and a snack, and take a short walk from the Warshawer Strasse U-bahn station; steer clear those hordes of silly tourists trying to get their passport stamped at Checkpoint Charlie while competing to see who gets an ethylic coma first (or gets lucky with the busty and over-tanned tourist mate of the bus), and walk behind The Wall (yes, of course, THE Wall). 

Then, join the dozens of people sunbathing like Iguanas thawing after the long frigid winter. The view of the Spree from there is one of my favorite landscapes in the city. You also get to see a few hilarious/extravangant things as well. The boyfriend and I saluted the people on the boats by waving our arms like muppets, but none of them returned the courtesy. They were all acting like they were too cool for it, or maybe they just were boring. Or maybe they just were being german (drumroll… zing!).

Oranienburger Strasse


For a drastic change of scene, we took a couple of trains to get to Oranienburger Strasse. Altough very touristy, it feels so incredible alive and colorful, the collective spirit cheers you up and gives you momentum. The smell from the many different meals impregnate the air as you walk, and the Tacheles stands, old and damaged, but proud, before us. Today, there’s a street party aiming to collect funds for legal aid, in order to try and save the alternative ground. A capitalist pig asks for your money:

 As the sunlight faded away and the city lights turned brighter, we headed to BarCelona, were we had a splendid meal. Seafood is the highlight of the menu, and for once it was refreshing to be able to order in Spanish! "Ostia! Traedme mis camarones, tío!" (Well, actually we don’t speak Spanish-spanish, but you get the idea).

Our drink? A rubi red Rioja, the perfect companion for an aromatic paella. It was one of those “I can’t believe this is happening, it’s just like my dreams, I’m so lucky to be here right now!” kind of moment, one of the many that I have had since that sweet and sour moment, one month ago, in which I planted my feet on Berlin, knowing this time it would be for good…





But now the dreams and waking screams
That everlast the night
So build a wall
Behind it crawl
And hide until it's light...

And, all of the sudden, that familiar sting. I feel it starting to unlfold in the back of my head, and even though I try to resist it, it’s still there. I don’t want to go back to that mental space again. But it’s there, developing with the gentle hum of anxiety: depression.

It starts like a little spark, a little voice in your head that suddenly pops up in your mind and says: “Why do you even bother?”. Those days when you just cannot make it out of the bed, because there is absolutely no motivation to get up. Or worse: waking up and wishing you haven’t. I know that kind of pain. I knew it well for several months, during those harsh hopeless days of fall, when basically my life could be summed up by this Metallica video:

(Minus the sex, so it was even sadder…)

I try to keep telling myself that I've only been here for one month, and nobody would expect me to start producing real data by now or being fully adapted to life here. But what if they are? Someone told me that it seems like I am not struggling with the lab work at all. And yes, I've tried my best to not complain and be independent and cheerful despite how I really feel. But what if they think that I am ready to carry out a project? I also feel that my reasoning and deductive skills are not being so bright these days.

In short, I am very worried of being in a situation in which people expect a lot from me and I won’t be able to deliver. I am working trying to figure things out but it’s still not clear. There are some things which I have no experience with at all, and are very hard to understand, and I hate feeling that I am working blindly, because I cannot plan experiments if I don’t know the details about how something is done, and good experiments need to be planned flawlessly.

Besides, the weight of being by yourself in an strange environment is heavier than expected. I had seriously underestimated the impact of moving out into a new country, leaving all behind. Is so hard to find your way in a stranger land and make it your home and create a new lifestyle from scratch. You feel terribly alone, frustrated and disappointed many times. This has given to me a whole new order of respect for those who are brave enough to make it. It is not trivial, it’s awfully scary. Add the fact that I have someone here for me, the boyfriend whom I love, and has helped me more than I would expect to kick-start my new life. I cannot imagine how harsh it should be to make it on your own.

Mama they try and break me...


First Weekend in Berlin

 And it all begins...

With the nice weather already blooming in Berlin, the Freiluftkino in Kreuzberg is a great option for a relaxing summer evening. Picture yourself in the middle of a grass field, in a lovely location, beer in hand, sitting on a deck chair with the sky as your rooftop, and on top of that, enjoying a great film! We catched “Exit Trough the Gift Shop”, the mockumentary by  world-famous street artist and prolific mastermind, Banksy. There were even fireworks! (Well, not actually in the cinema, but somewhere else close by).

By the way, I love how in their website, the people from Freiluftkino say that “only dogs in a leash will be admitted to the cinema”. Why in earth would you take your dog to the cinema is something that eludes me… but then again, we see dogs in the subway, at restaurants, stores and even in the bank (yes, in the fuckin’ bank). But the german dog thing is a subject in itself that shall be covered some other time.

 Photo by Skpy

After a evening walk through the buzzing environment of the neighborhood, we wanted to refresh our thirsty throats with some great quality home brewed beer. That would complete a wonderful evening and be the perfect catalyzer for good conversation. So we hopped into the subway to get to the Warschauer Strasse U-bahn station and then do a short walk to one of our favorite spots in Berlin: Hopes & Barley’s Pub.

From Cider to Dark beer, each kind of beer is tastier than the other. Also, it’s good for your health, since cloudy beer means live organisms that make your belly happy inhabit the beer that you are about to drink. Or at least that’s what a couple of german geeks told us one day, and I shall believe them (who am I to contradict them? I mean, they are german and all).

Everytime we go there there’s an all-german crowd (which I think is a good sign), which was kind of intimidating the first time we entered the place, until we realized that everyone there is really friendly and make you feel at home. My favorite drink? The Schlangenbiss (A.K.A. "Snakebite”): Half beer, half cider, with a touch of misterious liquor. Oh yeah. Make sure to try it if you ever go there. 

German beer, man. German beer and chocolate will be the end of me (well, at least of the slim version of me).

To be continued...


How it all started...

It was 2010 and the winter fell merciless upon the city. Snow every day, crackling cold pavement, neverending nights. Still, I fell in love with this city, went completely head over heels about it, and from that moment I knew I will do everything I could to come back. Now, here I am; and I'm hungry for more.

The Passenger's Diaries is my way of documenting all these new experiences. 

Why the name, you ask?

Well, you've probably heard this song:

That is the main piece of the soundtrack that starts playing inside my head everytime I grab my jacket and my bag and go out for a night in the city, just walking and watching and getting soaked on everything that is wonderful in this city of dreams that is Berlin. 

Iggy Pop composed the song and recorded it while him and Bowie were inseparable, back in the late 70's. From listening to it, you can get that rush of heading to the unknown, the excitement of the search for the out of the ordinary, and the complicity of two soulmates. Besides, if hearing that the stars were made for you tonight doesn't make you feel adventurous and excited about life, I don't know what will...

Iggy, I think now I've caught a glimpse of what you were talking about...