Washington, D.C. is where I was born. My hometown. A most beautiful city. Warm from April through October. Hot and sticky in the summer. Lush, aromatic gardens, permeated by the song of the cicadas all night. People have this special walk in DC, an elegant, gliding thing. It’s funny to hear my brother Larry say that Washington has become a “harder” place since we were kids, and that he is dreaming of moving to Savannah, because coming here from Munich for me means sliding into a lower gear and settling down into a more relaxed, friendly attitude. But that’s the outside view, of course, the habitus. Wearing your inner stress connected to deadlines and pressure and “I have to… I have to…” like a cloak is just not cool. But my German friends and students misread Americans as covering something up. When I hear “overflächlich” – superficial – out of the mouth of Germans it makes me so mad.
You see, when I come here the subtext of everyday life in Germany, complaining, what the Germans call “Jammern”, is switched off. Life is harder in the US, you know, and you have to get on with it. Jammering won’t get you anything. Get things done and then go on and have a good time.
I think this might have been a note to myself.