The jet lag hex is fairly serious this year—I still woke up in the middle of the night and was not able to go back to sleep until early morning. Hope springs eternal that I can beat this soon. We did still get up about 8:30 and had a light breakfast of yogurt, fruit and tea before a couple of friends of my mom’s, Wolfgang and Maya, came by to say hi and go for another walk with us. As always, I’m loving it that even people in their late 60s and 70s take it for granted that hanging out involves talking-while-moving, which is probably while I get so restless when it only involves talking-while-sitting-around! We walked through the botanical gardens again 9with more bees in blooming flowers; a favorite motif for Mark), and then across the “Westerberg,” a rural-seeming hill with fields (wheat, corn) and a farm right in the middle of town. We were trying to stop at a cafe on the way back to my mom’s, but because today is a holiday (religious/Christian: Feast of the Ascension, but in Germany it doubles as Father’s Day and is an excuse for young men to abscond from their families, go on a little outdoor trip, and drink a lot of beer). So eventually we decided to just return and have coffee at home. Mark, who again had to be on the periphery of the conversation today since everyone was speaking mostly German, got to show some of his photos, specifically of Kati and Kai but also of our place in Lincoln.
When Wolfgang and Maya left around noon, I got some more travel logistic sorted out, and Imke fixed us a lovely vegetable dish with rice; afterwards, we took a much-needed nap. When we got up, we had tea and a sweet bite with Imke and then went downtown to check out a major current event in town that I’d never heard of before: The German brass and wind ensembles (both symphonic and marching bands of all sorts) have a major national convention every year, with huge marching and soloist competitions, and hundreds of bands playing and competing, and this year, it’s happening right here, from today until the grand finale on Sunday. So there are currently 14,500 musicians in town, plus about 150,000 visitors are expected. This would normally not be my cup of tea (although Kai would love it all to pieces; this is HIS kind of music, apart from musical theater), but the fun part is that there are stages set up all over downtown with bands playing for free outdoors, and ticketed events in some of the concert halls. We just wandered in between the various stages and listened here or there as we got curious. A there were lots of food vendors, including a double-decker bus converted into a cafe that was kind of fun. A big ensemble played a Queen medley on the plaza in front of the cathedral, and a charming Dutch symphonic band played Quincey Jones’s “Austin Powers” theme, which was highly entertaining and made us all shout for encores. Eventually, we made our way back home and I fixed us a salad to go with our bread and cheese for dinner. After some postprandial computing, all three of us actually decided to go out to a nearby bar/concert venue where there were a couple of blues bands playing. Mark had his first German beer, or rather three sampler-size craft beers (a flight? Here it’s called a beer board, but they all tasted and looked the same to me), and I had a ginger-lemon lemonade that tasted like Pellegrino with a hint of ginger ale. Walking home, Mark noticed the nice nighttime lighting of the former city gate that is part of almost all the walks we take, the so-called Heger Tor.
My friend Andrea called this afternoon, and we immediately started talking art. She is probably the single-most important person when it comes to my interest in art and my understanding of contemporary art until I started to take art history classes last year. I had her tagged as a visual arts genius the day we met on the first day of first grade, and I wasn’t wrong. She has a graphic design degree but really ended up doing much more conceptual avant-garde art for her M.F.A. project 25 years ago, and has been working on cool art and photography ever since. We didn’t have much time to talk today, but enough to speculate about why people keep coming back to the same style of art, and what role nostalgia plays in one’s taste and how it develops or not. We were into fairly abstract and “grownup” art earlier than most (late teenage, casting aside our childish taste in Impressionism and surrealism a la Dali and Magritte for Dadaism, expressionism, and contemporary art) and agreed that attending the big German art show, the Documenta, in high school was a formative experience. Then we had to talk logistics and postpone our conversation about art until we visit her and her husband after Italy. But I can’t wait to run some of my ideas by her, especially since I know that she will challenge some of them and make sure I keep the big picture in mind.