Woman Abroad, Berlin: Leaving the U.S. to Write, Explore and Eat
Landing in Berlin, jet lagged af, crawling out of the cab, the first thing I noticed were the cobblestone streets. Arabic signs peppered the German cityscape. Graffiti splashed every wall with pink, canary and, my personal favorite, silver. The air was literally freezing cold. I’d left my native melty-warm California, passed through the magical night sky above Iceland, spied the neon green dancing lights in the glittering blackness, slept a bit when a saintly Japanese woman finally told the college-bros two rows behind us to shut the eff up, and arrived on the other side of the planet in less than 24 hours. My body was heavy, but my imagination soared.
After being greeted by my Berliner “work wife” and close friend, Camalo, with a big hug, she led us on a short walk down the canal to Cocolo for bowls of delicious, authentic Ramen. The hot soup brought us to life. Something about a homemade noodle is heaven to me. Scientists should study their healing nature. Anyway, after that we slept for like two weeks and then we got to work.
I should specify, “we” is my boyfriend Calvin and I. He is a filmmaker and I write.
One of the first people we met here was a lovely woman, a modern dance teacher, with a daughter named Minze (Mint). After the obligatory pleasantries she got right to the point, “Why on earth would you move from San Francisco to Berlin?!” We had said we were from the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in Danville, actually, and had lived in Santa Cruz, Berkeley and Oakland, while Calvin was born and raised in Oakland, spent time in Santa Barbara and Hollywood, and we lived in LA’s Koreatown together before moving to Berlin.
But yes, that was the big question:
Why did we move?
The easy answer is Camalo and I wrote a book together, a children’s book teaching girls (especially, but boys too) how to honor and explore their imagination, cultivate curiosity, and go into the world with empathy and big ideas.
The singularity of our idea lies in the narrative then providing practical lessons around bringing those ideas to life, in reality. Our tagline is, Want to teach your daughter how to actually make her dreams come true? It’s about being confident, playing by your own rules, being an individual, and becoming self-sufficient. It’s about a new age of entrepreneurship especially for people who have been marginalized or left out in the past.
As we see it, it’s pretty impossible to celebrate your individuality and unique spirit when you are stuck in a work culture with a bunch of stone-age expectations, time-tables, dress-codes, and hierarchies… ya feel me? So we wrote this book about a little girl named Entrepreneur who ventures into the world with wonder in her eyes, a gigantic imagination, and a big loving heart, to learn, and then to make stuff happen.
We’d been skyping and emailing at all crazy hours of the day and night across timezones, but for our big launch, we wanted to be together, get super focused and make a big bang.
Full disclosure: my co-author Camalo also happens to be my boyfriend Calvin’s sister. She has two adorable and inspired children who we both fell in love with after they came to stay with us in California last summer. Taking a big leap into this project and moving closer to family, was kind of a no-brainer, albeit a huge risk. It was one of those moments where your heart speaks and you just gotta listen.
The nuanced answer to why we moved is a bit more, well… nuanced.
We both had been feeling a sense of ennui mixed with veins of anger and despair for a long time — possibly, our whole lives — which had been amplified by a string of current events.
While from the outside, our lives in California seemed to gleam with a stylish and rose-colored charm, we each had a darkness of our own to reckon with, a hidden set of anxieties inextricably entangled in the culture and landscape of our so-called motherland.
More on this at a later time, perhaps. I’ll just say that we knew it was time to go, to break-free, to leave almost everything behind and begin again.
Our journey is one of self-discovery, re-imagining, and re-establishment on our own terms. My goal is to write as much as possible, to launch our book project in a big way, and to continue to study and hone my craft.
I discovered Steem, Bitcoin, and Dash while building our platform around the book which champions financial literacy for girls. We found the future of these currencies, detached from old institutions of control and industry, to be a hopeful and exciting piece of the puzzle for young people seeking to become self-sufficient in an evolving socio-economic landscape.
My dream is to promote the idea that anyone can make a living doing things they care about, exploring realms they find intriguing, and inventing creative solutions to multidimensional issues we all face.
I envision a mass exodus from the production, sales, and consumption of shit-we-don’t-need, and an arrival at a larger sense of shared purpose and healing. That’s what I’m after.
So here I am leading by example and sharing my stories. I aim to post about personal discoveries, travel adventures, entrepreneurship, art, literature, and film. More, I am increasingly interested in all things homemade, good food, and learning to love more fully everyday. Feel free to follow me if any of this lights your fire. I really love the idea of this new kind of space and am excited to see where it takes us all.
Ciào for now.
All photographs were taken by Calvin Gaskin or me.