Larger than Life

In the past week, I’ve experienced things that I think I’d only be able to have here in this city.

First off, I cut my hair. I finally did it after being such an insecure coward. “My cheeks are so big!” “My face shape doesn’t work for short hair!” But whatever. Stine cut off around 5 inches off my hair last week using Nicola’s spray bottle and scissors, and well, I’ve never been happier with my hair. Happy customer, obvs!

There’s a liberating feeling of having short hair. I feel like I’ve been hiding from the world with my long locks since I was a teenager. I always felt like it was a security blanket of sorts and now it was finally time to let it go. Also: as an adult, anything that gets me to save money (using lesser shampoo) and time (showering faster in the mornings) is always a yes in my dictionary.

This whole “larger than life” thing seems to be something I’ve been dwelling on for a while now. Nicola and I were walking along Tiergarten and I couldn’t believe how Berlin could have a garden this big right smack in the middle of the city. I also still can’t believe that it takes quite a journey to get from point A to point B—that’s how huge Berlin is. The streets are wide, the city itself is spacious (as I’m told, it’s because Berlin has been bombed several times), and the history is still evident in most districts. 

Last weekend, I went to the Buchstabenmuseum and apart from being in awe of seeing vintage type, what fascinated me more was realizing these were HUGE. Like, bigger than me (for scale: I’m only 64 inches tall). I’ve always visualized letters as tiny and tangible—especially since I work on paper and the computer. But seeing them in life-size actually made me feel small (in a good way).

I also finally got some film cameras! I bought a Yashica Super (SLR) and this Canon one (point and shoot) as well as some expired film. Of course, I am halfway through my first roll as we speak.

I went out with friends and one of them asked me, “Abbey, so, is Berlin a big city for you? I mean, I would imagine Manila would be bigger.” I responded with a shrug and said, “Berlin is huge. The fact that I can take proper public transport from end to end already fascinates me so much.” Sad to think of it that way, but such is life. At this point, I lowkey am wishing I could just stay behind and never go home (just kidding, #touristvisa problems).

But anyway, to sum things up, life’s been good.  It’s Thursday at 19:38 as I sum this up because I forgot my Apple pencil at the studio, so I am stuck with my phone for tonight’s commute. It’s been really warm and humid, very Manila-like. But the nights are the best—especially walking on empty streets past midnight.

(one last photo before I left)

This week was quite unproductive at the studio, since I had just moved to a new one. Also: watch below for a vlog of a day in the life of my residency featuring my first studio space.

So, I now have a huge wall to myself! It’s overwhelming. Earlier today we had an oil painting class and I painted a photo I took from Brera (Italy) last May. It was a weird process working on it—I am so used to drawing that painting became such a stranger to me. I also used impressionist colors—very Monet. I’m calling myself Claudine Monet from now on (Claudine is my second name).

I love these colors, tbh

I bought stuff for printmaking but decided to put it off first and maybe work on some oils. My new studiomate Cas lent me her oil painting tools and we stretched a canvas earlier, so I’m definitely looking forward to that. And I have a huge sheet of watercolor paper up for days that I’ve been ignoring…so maybe I’ll be on full-on painting mode tomorrow.

It’s funny, because most of these attempts to try new mediums come from colleagues who tell me to keep getting out of my comfort zone. Am I really that much of a coward? Apparently, I am. And I’m afraid that’s hindering me to see potentially greater things about myself, I now realize.

It’s going to be a busy weekend—some friends are in town and I will be out and about to visit my friends here as well. My best friend arrives on Monday. Did I also mention I have been eating vegetables now and running twice a week? Wow, who is she.

Everything seems to be going good, I’m quite in disbelief this is real life. I need to believe. It’s for the best.

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