Checking in from Berlin

My name in graffiti on a mail box

I think that's my name as a graffiti tag, on some sort of electrical box on Sonnenallee in Neukölln.

OK, OK. I know that it’s been a while since I’ve checked in on here (since Grenada!) but here’s what I’ve been up to in the past month or so:

  • Travel to and from Grenada
  • Attempt to sell off most of my furniture and my car
  • Get my !@#$ing PhD diploma and attend Convocation with my parents
  • Pack my entire life into boxes, load it into a U-Haul truck while some guy yells at us about blocking the alleyway, and then drive it 8 hours to Canada
  • Store most of my crap at my parents’ place and try to shove the remaining articles into 3 pieces of luggage
  • Remind Canada’s bureaucracy of my continuing existence
  • Spend a week in Toronto seeing friends, visiting old haunts, and having meetings at my alma mater
  • Spend about 20 hours in 3 flights taking me from my hometown to Berlin-town. Screaming babies were a bonus feature
  • Eat roasted chicken from City Chicken (Neukölln) and get plastered on wine and Sekt before finally crashing on my friend’s floor
  • Make a deposit at my Hauptmieterin’s (sublessor) bank account and retrieve the keys to my apartment
  • Schlep my numerous bags to my new apartment and settle in
  • Begin the long process of announcing my presence to the German bureaucracy
  • Struggle endlessly to unlock my iPhone 4 so I can use a reasonably-priced German SIM card
  • Re-stock the kitchen
  • Oversee repairs to the bathroom of my new apartment, which seems to involve plaster and sweaty men (not the sexy kind)
  • Orchestrate and attend reunions with overlapping circles of friends (and attempt not to alienate anyone in the process)
  • Sleep, eventually.

And now I’m in Berlin.Hooray! I’m jiggly with glee over being here, although most of the jiggling will happen over the weekend, when I finally make a return to Berghain/Panorama Bar sometime Sunday morning. I wanted to go Friday night/Saturday morning to see Stacey Pullen perform (for 8 hours!), but I ended up taking a “disco nap”  that turned into 11 hours of slumber. Admittedly, I was still working against jetlag and hadn’t slept more than 6 hours since I had arrived. Now, I’m fresh as a daisy for Sunday morning Klubnacht at Berghain! I hear that Margaret Dygas is playing upstairs in Panorama Bar, so I have another wonderful DJ to look forward to.

I can already feel myself slipping back into Berlin mode, with the same sleep-schedule and diet and desires and affective landscape. I’m calmer and more laid back as soon as I get to Berlin, but I also want to hit the clubs every weekend and dance to amazing music non-stop. I’m more able to focus on my work, but I also feel like I’m on some sort of permanent vacation. I’m excited about the possibilities of my new post-doctoral project (more on this in the months to come), but I’m also set by an absurd set of time-based anxieties now that I’m here: I should be conducting interviews right now, no time to waste! Is my German good enough to conduct interviews yet? How will I improve it in time? How can I arrange interviews with the people I want to talk to? Quick, look up all your old fieldwork contacts and start asking them for connections now! How on earth will I get access to all the government bureaus that keep data on tourism and nightlife in Berlin? When will I have time to manage the applications for this year’s job market, which is starting NOW NOW NOW? When will I submit the articles for publication that I need to get a tenure-track job? When will I find time to revise my dissertation into a book proposal, knowing that editors despise unrevised dissertations? Aaaah!!

So yes, there’s a sense of excitement but also urgency but also pressure—despite the calm affect that Berlin always instills in me. I’m giving myself this weekend to party hard and mark my arrival to Berlin with appropriate fanfare. Come Monday, however, it’ll be time to address these nagging questions and plan for the year ahead. I’m here, I have a place to live, I have a stipend to live on, I have friends here to help me, I have new colleagues to learn from, and I have a city full of nightlife / day-life / daily life / liveliness.


  1. Very envious of your new life! Although luckily I get to sample some of it with you in just 6 days.

    FYI, when I (finally) rule the world, children under the age of 5 will not be allowed on aeroplanes, so travel will be nice then. Also, we’re going to abandon the 24 hour clock and switch to metric time.

    1. So excited about next weekend! I’m also bracing myself for a week of trying to convince Germany’s bureaucracy that I exist and deserve such luxuries as a bank account and address. In the meanwhile, I’m eating müsli and gorging myself on dairy products. Yay Germany!

  2. Hey Luis-Manuel, found your site through a link on Denise Dalphond’s blog schoolcraftwax. I’m doing a PhD at the moment in music composition, I also run a company with Rich Hawtin & John Acquaviva called Liine —

    Would love to have coffee and chat about your research some time. (maybe at the coffee & sandwich bar at Berghain haha, have you found that one yet?)

    Drop me a line: nick (at) liine (dot) net

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