Abstract : Germany

Abstract: The Art of Design sat in my queue for a few days because I was worried it might suck.
But I really wanted it to be awesome.
           Typically, I do other things with the tv on. But, I couldn’t look away – the graphics were so expressive, it was continuously pulling me in. Christoph Niemann’s subtle but hilarious micro-expressions, Camera angles, Explore inducing music – and then these awesome little marker drawings. It was all so fascinating to me, several times I caught myself smiling so hard it made me laugh.
Christoph is so incredibly articulate – He managed to put to words many of the things I feel so often.
            “We can’t just make a film about you at your desk the whole day.” Was one of the funniest things said in the episode. THE funniest thing was when he talked about picturing himself sitting in starbucks by the window, and how he imagined it would be the most inspirational place to work – but it wasn’t. It was the most impossible place to work. The things he says after being aware that his vision of himself as an artist and the reality of it are so very painfully accurate.
            Anyone that knows me, knows I love Germany more than any place on earth (though, Barcelona is a close second). My school didn’t offer German, so I tried to teach myself. I bought a “Learn German” kit with cassette, mini dictionary, and pocket dictionary.  I carried the pocket dictionary to school with me so I could study on my breaks – I cried when I left it in my pocket and accidentally washed it. My classmates teased me for loving Germany so much – “Commy Holly” they called me. That didn’t really bother me since I didn’t know what Communism meant. Plus, I didn’t feel like I needed their approval to love Germany and was always kind of ‘different’. I asked one of my favorite teachers what it communism was, she laughed and told me the other kids were stupid (paraphrasing) for thinking Germany was a Communist country.
I’ve always loved how the German language sounds and how I feel when I speak in it. I was living in Germany when they won the World Cup in 2012 and I could feel the national pride swell. I remember driving behind some sort of construction vehicle with a small German flag at the top of it’s antennae, it was impossible to hold back happy tears. (I don’t even watch/care about soccer.)
            The first time I came to Germany in 2001, I looked everywhere for a souvenir German flag, a German t-shirt, anything with the German flag on it and only found that kindof thing at the airport. When I asked my friends I was visiting where I could find German flags and such, they looked at me wide eyed and surprised. Then told me since WWII, they didn’t feel like they could show their pride. “If we show pride in our country, the countries around us might think – ‘Oh no, Germany is rising up again, so we have to stay low.'” At 15 years old, that was heartbreaking.
As an American, I can go to any gas station in any state in any town and probably find something patriotic. We take our pride for granted.
            I felt at home in Germany. It’s truly the only geographical place I can say I Feel that way towards. In the documentary, Christoph talks about that same feeling of being at home in New York and about ‘owning’ a place no one you know has been before. Unlike Christoph who says he was immersed in American culture growing up in Germany (with the presence of the military, there are quite a few “mini Americas” there), I grew up in Texas but never felt like I “belonged” there. The first time I went to Germany was with my parents – also the first time for me to fly – and my mom and I distinctly remember the feeling of getting off the plane. Everything seemed so much fresher, we could breathe better. I stayed behind for a few weeks to travel and I remember getting on the plane to leave… looking out the window, feeling like I was leaving my heart behind, trying to swallow the lump in my throat and breathe into the emptiness in my chest.
            When I got back, no one was teasing me about Germany. The whole attitude had changed because I had done something with my dream. It was no longer “Why would you want to go there???” But instead they just sat back and were more like, “…huh.” and slight embarrassment. I could tell they were curious – the look on their faces gave away that feeling of wanting to know more about something, but knowing so little that you don’t even know what questions to ask.
            I visited Germany 2 more times while in highschool. In 2011, my husband received orders to Germany and we lived there for 4 years. It was absolutely incredible and terrifying. Living in Germany was the biggest thing I had ever dared to dream – and there I was living it. After 2 years, I soaked up as much German culture as I could (which is difficult when you live close to a military base). I had mastered the art of blending in, anywhere I went the natives assumed I was German – and I could usually pull it off as long as I didn’t get too involved in conversation. I so happy every morning to look out the window and seeing the German flag flying over my landlord’s car port.  I knew that struggle to have pride again.
            By year 4, I knew the time was coming to an end as my husband’s tour was ending. I felt like I had been on a 4 year sabbatical to live my dream, reveal in it, and thrive in it which was more than I could ever ask for. And increasingly had the feeling of, “What do I do now? I’ve accomplished my biggest dream and I’m still alive. I guess I need to dream bigger.”
When I came back, I had more appreciation for being a ‘spoiled American’ and felt more patriotic than ever. Living in Germany somehow made me feel more connected to everything I know. I’m sure I’ll visit again someday – but until then, I have sowed away in my “mental Get-away” box memories of beautiful tree trails, castles, and the best bread in the world.
            I got a lot out of that episode and it sparked so many feelings – I’m still absorbing all of the things about design and life he talked about. If every episode is like this, it’s probably going to take me 3 months to watch the whole series. ;D

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