– photographs and messages from inside the Sausurrean Bar –

Category: sometimes I write about my travels

Archive for the ‘sometimes I write about my travels’ Category

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

DC reporting in, #4: The Kluge Center

As you can see from the photos work notesis progressing apace, though I am still finding my way around the main Library of Congress catalog (to say nothing of all the digital collections one has access to through the LoC!). I am however – already – really apprechiative of the fact that I can browse the catalog, order books, and then have them turn up right at my cubicle entrance 1-2 days later. There are sooo many books in the LoC, and being able to work with them in this way is a great opportunity.

Today we had a two hour in-depth introduction into the different ways that one can utilize the catalog, which has proven really useful – I will have to re-do some of my searches though, to make sure that nothing has slipped through my ‘net’. The introduction was supposed to be last Thursday (which turned out to be a snow day) and thus had to be rescheduled, and though it might be a little annoying that some searches need to be redone we all (the five newbies) agreed that having had the extra days of working with the catalog on one’s own lead to us being able to ask much more detailed questions, as we had all discovered some odd results etc already, or knew of things that we thought ought to be in the LoC but somehow could not manage to find (and, sure enough, at least in my case, it’s here indeed)*.

So, what precisely is this place that I am working in? Let me quote from the website:

ShelvesThe John W. Kluge Center brings together scholars and researchers from around the world to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources, and to interact with policymakers and the public.

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress is an ideal place to foster this mutually enriching relationship between scholars and political leaders. The Kluge Center presents a new opportunity to attract to Washington the best available minds in the scholarly world, facilitate their access to the Library’s remarkable collection of the world’s knowledge, and engage them in conversation with the U.S. Congress and other public figures.


You can find out more about the Kluge Center right here.

* It being the 1952-54 issues of Collier’s.

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

DC reporting in, #3: Snow Day

So, Thursday was indeed a snow day. And it did, indeed, snow – about 5 inches / 15 cm over the course of the day. I spent the day inside, catching up on some reading and work (and also napping, as I still wasn’t quite over my jetlag – or maybe just plain tired). But, Friday dawned bright and sunny, and the Library of Congress was open again (with an optional 2 hour late arrival period for staff members), and here are some photos of the snow-day-aftermath.

7th Street SE

7th Street SE (my street) in the snow


Independence Avenue (the road that leads from 7th Street straight down to the Library of Congress)

It’s not the busiest of streets, and it does make for a nice 10-15 minute walk in the mornings and evenings … which will get even better once it’s a little warmer, I think (and then probably less so once the heat and the mosquitoes arrive…). We’ll see!

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

DC reporting in, #2: Cubicularitis

my cubicle

Today has been my third day at the Library of Congress. As you can see from the photo above I am now (and for the coming seven months) the proud inhabitant of a cubicle (my first ever!), namely cubicle “Kluge 21.” Lots of shelf space, walls one can pin things to, artificial lighting and nice cubicle mates will be my companions for the spring and summer. I’ve spent the last two days (Monday was taken up with getting a cublicle assigned, an account set up, etc) ordering books from the library catalogue and getting a feeling for what is here – I did some of this work before arriving, of course, but now that one can actually order all the books it’s different (my shelves are no longer this empty). And I’ve been out with fellow (Klugians? Klugianists? Klugees?) researchers twice already, which is nice. Lots of interesting conversations, tips about DC live, and just general good times. There might be plans for more of that in the future. :-)

Tomorrow, though, might be a snow day, as DC will apparently collect/receive between 8-12 inches of snow in the next 24 hours. It’s raining right now, so we’ll see what happens. (I don’t want it to be a snow day. I want to go look at all the books that arrived literally 5 minutes before I left. And we’ve got a tour of the National Archives planned, as well. But, as typed, we’ll see…).

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

DC reporting in, #1the house, it is white!

So, here’s my first update from DC, on my second morning here! I got here safely and my landlady and housemate for the next seven months was kind enough to pick me up from the airport, which meant that I did not have to lug all my luggage around using various modes of transportation, for which I was and am grateful! After letting me unpack she also took me to the shops, which means that I am now stocked up on some of the basic grocery essentials (like rike, tea, emergency cans of re-heatable things, …) without having to carry them all on my back.

judges and juriesYesterday I did a combination of errands and orientation – I now have a US SIM card for my phone (with 1 GB of data, unlimited texting and calls in the US and also unlimited texting and calls to Germany), am in the process of opening up a bank account, and also know my way around a little bit. I think I spent almost two hours in the T-Mobile store in total (what with me deciding to add on mobile phones in Germany for another $5/month and the plan not going through properly the first time), but it all got sorted out (I think) (bonus point of ‘lets see if texts work’ was that it lead to a nice text and phone conversation with K & S! Thanks for ‘guinea-pigging’ it for me! :-)). I did not carry my big camera around with me yesterday (as there were some things I wanted to buy and me thus using the backpack rather than the camera bag), so all the photos you can see here were taken with my mobile phone only (still, the big three are all here, so there’s that, right?). The weather is beautiful, but cold. Windchill! Brr.  under the dome

The public sad news is of course that Leonard Nimoy has died, which feels a lot more close and personal to me (and a lot of people I know, as I’ve read) than it maybe objectively is (in the sense of how much one reciprocially knows about one another). This reminds me of the strange relationship we have to people who play characters we like (which I’ve read a lot of things about, over the course of my studies), and yet also, and far more, the personal interactions I was lucky to have with him. Due to various reasons I think I got to spend almost 3 hours talking one-on-one to him during different moments in time, and I remember him as someone reserved, kind and soft spoken, who had a lot of interesting and intelligent things to say about poetry, prose, and music (we did not talk about Star Trek. You can read what he thought about Spock and Trek etc in so many places … so, you know … also once you start talking poetry it just takes you places, conversationally).

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

All my bags are packed

packed bags
In these bags (well, two suitcases and one bag) are most all of the things that I thought worthwhile carrying over the pond with me for 7 months. About half of the volume of the checkered bag is taken up by my warm winter coat, which I’ve dithered about taking, but have decided to include after all. It’s been quite … chilly … in DC recently, and although it’s been getting warmer you never know if that trend is going to last. So, the coat is coming with me.

My plan is to blog for you all about my time and adventures in DC at least once a week – there might be photos more frequently than that, and as I get around to editing older photos those will show up as well, but I definitely want to actually ‘word at you’ at least once per week.

So, for the time being: all of my grading is done (it took a good chunk out of the weekend and the last two days), either emailed to Flensburg already or in the process of being physically mailed there (BA/MA thesis evaluations need to be signed, so…), my bags are packed, the laptop is backed up, the I-devices are charging, I’ve got an audio book to read tomorrow and am going to acquire the ARC of Dragon in Exile so that I’ve got something to read as well, plus I carry a physical copy of Tom Buhrow’s Gebrauchsanweisung für Washington (~ ‘Instruction Manual for DC‘) for when batteries run low … got some money, some plastic money, my passport, visa, … so, yeah, I think I’m ready. Read you on the flipside!

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

The Waiting Game

The Waiting Game

I called this photo the waiting game, and that’s a game I’m also playing right now. Term is winding down and we’re in the “the days before all the exams come in” lull, which is usually a time for the tidying up of offices and loose ends etc. This year, for obvious reasons, times ten.

Today I went to the post office and filled out the forwarding form for my mail, and when I go shopping or ponder what to eat I’m in the territory where one needs to ask oneself every time “am I going to finish this before leaving”?

Like: if I open another bottle of wine, will I drink enough of it before I leave Flensburg? (Which actually tells you more about how little wine I drink at home than about my prospective departure date). I’ve run out of hot mustard, and am not going to open up another glass of it, as 80% of it would then go to waste. I’m also going to run out of cereal, most varieties of tea, … really soon now. And will need to eat a lot of rice in the coming days.

On that note: I’m so so so glad that I decided NOT to give up my flat. Just thinking that I could be spending these days frantically packing boxes and moving things into storage … no no no no no. This is much better. Maybe a little more expensive (and also maybe not, as taking things out would cost money, storage would cost money, moving into a holiday flat after returning would cost money, getting a new flat would… etc), but also a million times less stressful. Flat things are also all sorted out and taken care of, and I can leave knowing that both the flat and my things will be in good hands. Which is a relief.

I’m using the occasion of not-being-here for 7+ months to do some general sorting out of stuff, so there’s a trip to the local civic amenity center on my prospective schedule for Monday morning. I decided against touching the clothing I no longer wear at the back of the closet, though – they’re going to keep until October, and I’m busy enough without also creating a clothing avalanche in my bedroom. So paper and medication and stuff like that goes, trousers that no longer quite fit stay (they also might fit again when I return, depending on how many peanut butter cups I eat).

So I’m both busy preparing and working … and yet also biding my time, and it’s all a bit strange.

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

The sky in Latvia in April was very very intensely blue, wasn’t it?

I should be asleep (it’s 11pm already), but I’ve spent the last 3 hours digging through endless paperwork (it’s all sorted now, though, so yay) that I needed to look at before Thursday, and as tomorrow will be a “leave at 7:30am, return around 10:00pm” day it had to be done, well, today – still some bits missing, but I hope that’s simply because they’re in my office at the EUF. And now I am waiting for a sync to finish (8 mins to go) and so am using those 8 min to post here.

I don’t have very much to relate, however, as things are mostly a random assortment of business and things. Between classes, project lit papers, book reviews, a presentation I am giving next week, a paper I need to finish, and the Really Long List of things that I need to do so that I can go abroad for 8 months there’s not much time for catching ones’ breath or thinking long an winding thoughts – or writing long and winding postings. I really want to write up why I think that Coming Home is an unfortunately weak book, and yet why I am glad for that even though I am annoyed by it, but that will have to wait for another week or two (or ten, or … maybe never get done at all).

As it is, I get to spend my days talking about poetry and prose and narrative situations and drama (session 2 on The Crucible tomorrow; today’s IntroLit session was all “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “A Sudden Story” re-writes) and history and culture and … it’s a good term, classes wise (and in general).

And, uh, yes, I might have ordered the “complete text of Walden” litograph. It’s going to go on one of my office walls, and hopefully going to be awesome. (But, c’mon, it’s Walden :-). Their “Collected Works of Emerson” graphic is v.amusing, but I resisted! (“I am a transparent eyeball!” (Yes, I know, eyeball.)))

My ‘normal’ to do list stands at 44 items, my (separate) DC one at 59 (down from 114). Eeek.

AAAND my sync is done.
À bientôt!

Monday, October 27th, 2014

DC, baby!

So I really should be re-writing and critically assessing my conclusion on this article whose deadline is on Friday, but as I am not fond of writing or embellishing or … conclusions (they are my weakest link, writing wise, and well I know it) I am playing hooky from doing that (though I will do it today, I will I will) for a bit to update my blog here instead. My To-Do list tells me that this is one of (by now 103) things I need to get done within this specific category before February, so I do get to cross something off of my To Do list once I post this. Which is nice. This will not be news for people who have talked to me recently or who read my most recent FB update, but I wanted to put it on my blog and thus in the open-open, as well.

It took me a while to get to this point, but now that things are squared away with work (Thank You, Europa-Uni FL!) and thus official, I can tell you all that I applied for a Kluge Fellowship last year, was awarded said Fellowship earlier this year, and thus will be researching, writing, and working in the Library of Congress in Washington DC for most of next year!

I need to be at the LoC on March 2nd, and I need to be back in Flensburg for the winter term (late Oct/early Nov), which gives me – and you – the cornerstones for my prospective stay in the US. I am REALLY excited, somewhat nervous, and, as I stated above, suddenly in possession of an entirely new To Do List. It’s growing longer rather than shorter at this stage – everything I cross off also usually gives birth to two or three new bullet points that need to be added.

I’ve been to the States, but never been to DC (and I’ve never really *lived* in one place in the States for any length of time – conferences, conventions, and holidays are all different kettle of fish from this), and, you know, should you live there, or know someone who lives there, or used to live there or … I’m totally interested in aquiring local knowledge and getting in touch with local people to hang out/geek out with!

(OK, now back to that conclusion…).

Thursday, August 14th, 2014



After a somewhat choppy second flight, I have made it safely to London (see photo of the rain we flew into above). Have managed to register, drop postcard postbox off, and run into lovely people whom I then had yummy Mexican food with. :-)

Programming starts (for me) with a social event tomorrow morning, an academics mix-and-mingle before the academic track kicks off. I have brought the ipad mini and its keyboard, which have served me well at two conferences already, and expect to be taking plenty of notes (not only for myself, but also for the conference report I shall be writing for a German academic journal). So, better catch some sleep now … I have a feeling it’s going to be a long five days!

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

This gift I bring you in my arms

This gift I bring you in my arms

So I am back from Latvia and Estonia where I had a really good time and a great EASLCE conference, and I think I might also have taken some good photographs, but basically when looking at my schedule I don’t really see any open time slots when I might actually get to go look through the photographs I took to select some to post here. Basically it’s all pretty much work-work-work until, oh, the end of July? Oral exams and block seminar this week and weekend, a deadline for the revisions on an article, and of course DFDF is coming up, which is creating a lot of work at the moment, and then I am giving a paper in Bochum, and then in Würzburg two weeks after that, and BA theses are coming in and need reading and grading, and there are the weekly classes of course, and … EEK! And given that I still haven’t managed to get through the photos I took on Lanzarote in January, erm, maybe photos from Latvia and Estonia will follow some time in … August? Certainly in album form, I might go in and pick out the odd one or two before them, as I have been with my photos from Lanzarote. It’s so much easier to decide which photos to post when I’ve only had an hour or so out in the local woods to shoot a couple, the richness of motives and possibilities lurking on my SD cards after this multi-day photo-intensive trip is actually quite overwhelming.

But yeah, A+++, would go/do again!

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Misty Morning, Bayeux, France

Misty Morning, BayeuxI have a lot of photos to look at and sort, and every evening just before I get to my hotel/motel/B&B/thingybob room of the day I think “today I’ll do it!” – and every evening, as soon as I sit down in my hotel room and switch on my computer I do look at the photos of the day … and then my energy leaves me and I don’t do anything else except download them onto my small external hard drive for backup storage. So, hmm, more photos from my trip will probably show up in the coming weeks and months, but all hopes of chronology are to be abandoned. So, today, a photo from this morning – with a title that totally plays on The Pogues’ “Misty Morning, Albert Bridge”.

(Photo selection totally helped by the fact that I did not take many photos today – spent most of the day in places where photography was not allowed – and didn’t buy *anything* in the Bayeux Tapestry Museum, even though I had totally allocated a maximum spending limit to myself, in preparation for the possible danger of lots of enticing things. And then … nothing. I mean, lots of things, but 90% of them were gaudy T-Shirts and mugs and rulers and magnets and mugs and … that simply said “I was in Bayeux” and had one of the riders from the Tapestry on them. [The rest were super expensive pillow cases]. Which: I really don’t need. A DVD with a film on it that simply starts at one end of the tapestry and slooowly moves to the other, narrating what one sees and stuff about the tapestry’s history was something I would totally have bought [to then donate to the Uni Library]. But the only DVD they had was a cheesy animated version of the tapestry. Which … not so much. [Most dangerous gift shop I have been in thus remains, by a long shot, the Lewis & Clark trail shop in Oregon. They admittedly had tacky things, too, but also lots of interesting history books and interesting high quality merchandise. {Bayeux shop: books on Norman/English/whatever history: sell them!}]. [And the D-Day museum shop was no better – instead of the Tapestry guy they had the names of the landing sites on their things, but the same “I was in Bayeux” slogan. Books or info about D-Day … nope. {Which I wasn’t looking for, but some of the other visitors were a bit disappointed about. (And now to close a gazillion brackets).}.].).

And also, I think, to sleep. It’s almost 9pm, and thus totally time to sleep. :-) Lot’s to see & do tomorrow!

Friday, March 8th, 2013

On a hill, above Dischingen …

On a Hill, above Dischingen...

… sits Castle Taxis


It is owned by the von Thurn und Taxis family* and not open to visitors (which makes sense, I wouldn’t want to have strangers wandering my halls at odd hours either [never mind that my flat does not *have* any halls]).

Alas, the road signs totally don’t say that it’s not open to visitors, they’re the “this way to interesting things!” kind of road signs that point out attractions all over Germany, and so you really only find out (if you don’t look places up before you head there, but simply meander through the countryside and follow signs to places more or less at random [I didn’t even know there was a Castle Taxis, let alone in that precise location]) when you end up at then end of their driveway and there’s a sign saying ‘no entry’ instead of  one saying ‘visitor parking this way ->. Entry to grounds €5’. So, you know: Ooops. Also: Sorry.

And, to make everything more oops, wouldn’t you know, that driveway is totally where and when and how and why I (think I) encountered Gloria, the Princess of Thurn und Taxis – for as I was backing out of the (private) driveway (sorry!), a woman on a bicycle passed me and gave me a totally bemused/sceptical look, which I initially parsed as being sheer amazement at the fact that I own such a lovely and eye-catching and non-subtle blue toque**, but after googling her photograph I now think it was Gloria, PofT&T and it was more of a ‘what are you doing in our driveway? We’re expecting no deliveries, and anyway, your car is totally not a delivery van! Or is there surprise cake? But, wait … you’re not the baker, so of your kindness, strange woman with the blue toque, gerrofmydriveway!’ kind of look. Either way, I waved and she nodded and on I drove, down the hill and away. (The sign really is posted in a location where its kind of already too late.)

* Inventors of the postal system. (Yes, yes, Silent Tristero is coming for us all. Don’t believe it! :-) )
** Which I do! It is shiny and warm and comfortable and non-scratchy and 100% made of natural ingredients such as dead dinosaurs and long-decayed forests and I bought it in Los Angeles in a surf shop because the wind was soooo cooold that day and I can totally walk through crowds of students unnoticed when I wear my less-flashy black one instead, as I have the only shiny blue toque on campus (and I am not afraid to wear it :-) )!

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The distance I travelled

Where I actually went (not every place is marked by a letter, but a good many are - and this is totally not the road I took through Alabama, but it would not let me put in the Talladega Forest - I went by backcountry roads, alllll the way down from Huntsville to Enterprise ... it took a while (think Huntsville - Gadsden - Auburn - Enterprise, rather than Montgomery and Birmingham)).

Since the question has popped up more than once: total distance travelled, according to the odometer readings upon pickup and return: 2’816 miles.


Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Back in Germany

I made it back safe and sound to Germany, if on a different flight than originally planned – I was booked on a Lufthansa flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt for Monday evening, local time, but when I got to the airport my flight was cancelled due to a strike that was planned for Frankfurt airport for Tuesday. So, no flying to Frankfurt. After about an hour of waiting, I was rebooked on two United Flights, first Atlanta-Chicago (ORD) and then Chicago-Frankfurt. The itiniary gave me 35 minutes in ORD to make the connection, which left me somewhat skeptical, what with ORD being huge and needing to change terminals and all … . But I was game – I have friends in the Chicago area and I figured the worst that could happen would be an overnight stay in the Windy City, with possible no-warning meetup with friends, dinner on me. Or something like that. So I took myself and my luggage over to the United check in area, and what do you know, turns out the computer only had me on a flight to Chicago, but the connection to Frankfurt was missing … because the flight from ORD to FRA was … also cancelled. I was ready to hie myself back to Lufthansa and that point and to let them assign me a hotel or something (rueing only that I had had no advance warning, and so returned my rental car already), but the nice lady at the United booth whom I had inquired about my missing international connection about said “oh, but there’s a Delta plane leaving for Frankfurt at 4pm … let me see if that one’s still going and if they have room!”

The answer to both was yes, and so I got rebooked on that one, and ended up leaving two hours earlier than planned, on a plane that was about 20% empty. So much for the Lufthansa lady’s “we’re trying everything to get you all home” – everything Star Alliance, maybe, but not everything – I know some people (hey, you make contacts when waiting around with other people for different flights for 1h+) who got stranded for 24 hours, or who got a connection via Newark (where they got stranded), or, like me, got assigned the Chicago flight, but then not rebooked to Delta. It makes sense from a airline-network-rivalry point of view, but also makes the “we’re doing everything” a heap of untruth … I mean, having three seats to myself was nice, but I’d gladly have had less room and the guy that wanted to get home for his daughter’s birthday along for the trip … ya know?

But, home I am, and home-home at that, as I am in Mannheim right now, and shall remain here until Sunday – it’s my dad’s job leaving-do tomorrow, and it looks to be a grand party!

I’ve also had the two one-way disposable underwater camera films developed, the above photo being one of the pictures from them – more to follow, but once I’m reunited with my scanner – this one is here courtesy of the camera in my telephone only.

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Savannah, GA

As you can see from the heading of the post, I am still in Savannah. There was so much left to see and do here that I didn’t get finished yesterday (and my tour ticket was valid for today as well) that I decided to spend the day here, after all, and to make my way to Atlanta tomorrow. This whole trip has been one where I was getting less milage done than I once thought, and somehow doing things later than I thought I’d do them – appologies to all that I met up with / thought to meet up with / did not manage to meet up with this time around. It’s been really good though, and since I did not have any firm itinerary, other than knowing when my flight was leaving and when I had to go back, no itinerary to be scrapped, and I just have to come back and see New Orleans and Charleston and the Smoky Mountains and Rock City etc some other time. The Georgia Guidestones are still firmly on the agenda for tomorrow, though, traffic and time permitting!