The joke is, “What comes between fear and sex?”
…and the answer is:
How about, “What comes between vier und sechs?”
Aha! Die Antwort: Fünf.
Wird es jetzt sehr klar?
Ok, so this is a joke to be told, not written. But this is a blog.
So, what does this ‘joke’ have to do with a blog that is concerned with autism and siblings of autism? That’s a fair question. (Actually I think it’s funny and should be classified as a joke, without the ‘scare quotes’, but some may not agree.)
Growing up with an autistic older brother and a chaotic family dynamic wasn’t conducive to developing social skills. Let me refine that thought: Growing up in my family didn’t do much for me in the social skills department. I touched on this in a previous post. Without going into details, I got married in my mid-thirties, but started dating in earnest after my divorce. (Hey J__, still friends, right?)
Cutting to the chase
So I put this personal ad in New York Magazine. There is a lot more to the personal ad saga, but I won’t digress here.
Lo and behold, I got a reply from Hamburg, Germany! We corresponded for a little while and I prepared for my international blind date. I was preoccupied with journaling and photography at the time, so my preparations were all documented in a 9X12, hard covered book. I wrote down serial numbers, included photos of my lenses, the two 35mm camera bodies and two Polaroid cameras. The Polaroids were for pictures I could tape into my journal right away, without waiting for film development. I won’t tell you how many rolls of film I took with me, because it is just too embarrassing. Suffice it to say that I just came across a couple of unexposed rolls of that batch, yesterday.
Being in a foreign country, where everything was fresh and novel, put me in journaling heaven. I spent on average 1-2 hours a night, in my hotel, writing. I also had another book in which I recorded my dreams.
Oh yes, my date
M__ was really nice. We went to a lot of different places. We saw an opera in Berlin; art and history museums including an entire museum dedicated to Edvard Munch; the marzipan capital of the world (Lubek); a church where Buxtehude, J.S. Bach’s teacher, was the organist; Christmasschmuck (no kidding) in Bremen; and lots of interesting sights. Since this was a couple of years after the Berlin Wall fell, we took a tour bus through East Berlin and she showed me some of the landmarks that she remembered.
It was an interesting trip. M__ and I still send the occasional e-mail, but nothing romantic happened.
Book of Funf
This is a picture of my Book of Funf.
No longer a 9X12 journal, but a multi-layered, Polaroid-included, panoramic-laden, dream-overlaid document of my time overseas. Did I reveal any autistic traits in my journey? Aside from an obsessive compulsiveness to capture every moment, thought, picture and dream, I think not.
Great joke. Sounds like you had a great time in Germany with your date. Berlin has to be one of my favourite cities in the world (it was my favourite until Venice knocked it off the top place). I lived and worked there about five years after the wall came down, and it was an experience I shall always look back on with fondness. Thanks for sharing this, making me laugh, and allowing me a little digression of my own.
Thanks, Maria. I’m glad we like the same kind of funny stuff.
All in all, I liked Germany, but I had some mixed feelings. I would never have gone if I did not include a visit to one of the concentration camp sites. I traveled by myself to Munich and after I got off the train, I asked at an information booth how to get to the concentration camp at Dachau. The person looked at me in a weird kind of way and then told me where the concentration camp ‘museum’ was [or something to that effect]. Although I am not religious, I felt that it was important to pay my respects. M__ was kind enough to take me to a Jewish cemetery in Hamburg.
As with any place, I am sure that an extended stay would allow one to gain greater appreciation.
Thank you again for your comment (and your sense of humor).
You are a braver person than I. All the time I lived in Berlin and Germany in general (I was there three years, and lived in a number of places around the country) I could not bring myself to visit any of the concentration camp ‘museums’, or even Check-point Charlie at the Brandenburg Gate. The Holocaust is a subject that is painfully close to my heart, not just because I have Jewish heritage. I can’t even watch anything about it, it just destroys me. In fact it was on watching a documentary recently about it that prompted me to start up my blog ‘Diary of a Person Being Human’, but even then I couldn’t write about it.
It was certainly a sobering experience living in Berlin, knowing so much about its history (I have a particular interest in the history of WWI and WWII). Also because at the time, as I’m sure you found during your visit, much of what was east Berlin hadn’t changed since the war. I remember it being like stepping into a time warp; with all the pock-marks on walls of buildings from bullets and shrapnel. But out of all places that I’ve lived in both in Europe and Israel, Berlin is probably the only one where I felt the most safe (I grew up in SE London – not safe at all). Had it not been for my German boyfriend moving back home to Germany, I probably would not have visited either.
I love the photographs of your journal, full of notes, papers, stuff, memories 🙂
I’m the same way, in terms of reading Holocaust literature, a fear which I would like to overcome. There is a lot that can be learned about the human spirit (and human depravity) through that genre. Awareness of the dangers of political manipulation of the weak-minded followers is very much necessary today. In relation to my blog mission, it is the fair treatment of those unable to care for themselves. Even though there is so much more awareness today, there is a lot to be vigilant about. Everyone knows someone who needs help or who can’t fend for themselves. I believe there is strength in diversity: diversity of views, diversity of abilities and diversity of ideas.
Thanks for your thoughts, Maria.