Yearly archives: 2009

waste and want

A new book arrived in the mail today, courtesy of my mother: Waste and Want: A Social History of Trashb y Susan Strasser. I’m only on page 7, and it’s already the most exciting book I’ve read in months. Come to think of it, it’s the most exciting book since the last book I read about trash. You could say I’m obsessed. And I could say I am what I eat.
Strasser’s other books have left her something of an expert on the history of housework (A History of American Housework), and in discussing the shift in [...]

white noise

The weather report claims that right now it is somewhere between -3 and -18 degrees Celcius. The wood stove has been raging for several hours and my toes still feel frozen. I am still wearing two sweatshirts, a hat, a scarf, and fingerless gloves.
Even if my wagon was finished we would be packed in here together. To save wood. To keep warm. He watches a movie from the bed while I sit in a chair in front of the fire, barely a foot away from each other, to write to you about abandoned buildings and [...]

sneakin’: along the elbe

If abandoned buildings were food, East Germany would be the all-you-can-eat buffet, and Sundays would be the half-price special. See, despite restoration fees (people living in the west still send part of their tax money east to help fix shit up) and economic stimulus what- evers, East Germany still hasn’t transformed into the hyper-developed over- civilized beast that is the West. What this means is that there are abandoned buildings a plenty. And Sundays in Germany mean that everything is closed, leaving very few people out on the street to see you crawling under the fence outside [...]


Snow coats everything with a crumbly frosting. The drab winter-brown landscape looks magical again. But even the snow can’t right the construction site across the street because the construction site used to be home, and now it is Over Tilled Earth and Metal and Concrete and Four Ten Story Cranes and Loud Dusty Men in Hardhats.
The bitter cold pushes through the cracks in even the most well-insulated wagons. And in the wagons we never really insulated properly it is never really warm. From my seat in the kitchen I nod at every penniless writer of the [...]

fire, ice, fire

The wood stove is almost lit, and my hands smell like pine sap. Sitting on the floor in front of the stove I look as if I am praying. Hips resting atop folded feet, hands folded on black pants, head tilted as I listen to the crackling fire, waiting for it to tell me that it is time to add another handful of kindling.
Outside a thin column of smoke snakes up into the sky where it meets other bands of smoke in a wraith-like may pole around which our wagons dance. I shove another handful of wood [...]

elizabeth gilbert and the orm

The Orm is what Walter Moers calls the divine, possessed inspiration that comes over a writer when working on what will become a masterpiece. In this video—which I guarantee will interest any of my writer readers, and maybe a few others besides—Elizabeth Gilbert (who apparently wrote a best-selling book called Eat Pray Love, among other rather interesting things) talks about her relationship with the orm and re-assesses the way our culture understands creative genius.

goodbye hamster blues

My usual Saturday ritual involves walking through the flea market down the block and returning cans to the grocery store in exchange for juice and noodles. But today, revived from sickness by a fulfilling night of fancy cocktails and fancier dresses, today was lumberjack day.

Above: The country ghetto woodshed, built out of old pallets and metal siding, found in the trash. Pirate flag, found in the woods outside of Limburg.

Imagine if all the people who belong to gyms traded in their memberships for a wood stove and mighty lumberjack shoulders. I think that, in some small way, [...]

tiny fists of fury and die alle letzte dresksau

Over the years I’ve had a lot of nicknames, though few have stuck around for long—Pajama Girl, Tiny Fists of Fury, and Sweepstakes. Now the people who once called me those things live way across the sea, and the names have faded into memory.
These days I have two new nicknames. The first is die alle letzte Drecksau—which means something along the lines of the biggest, dirtiest pig of all time and which I earned with a remark about how I’ve eaten enough mold (accidentally of course) at this point in my life that it no longer affects my [...]


The phrase holy shit does not translate into German. If you try it people might not laugh at you because they’ve heard the phrase in English, but in German say “heilige Scheiße” and you just sound like an idiot. Then again, taken literally, “holy shit” is a ridiculous phrase that probably has a fascinating etymological story. But that is besides the point.
THE POINT, my friends, is that today Snowflake and I replaced the moldy support beam that I have been dreading/avoiding for months. Leeching onto someone else’s optimism about how easy something will be makes [...]