Thursday, April 27, 2017

No Grammar, No Cry

The scene is a basement of a derelict building. I'm in a dimly lit room with a dozen others. I’m wearing a white T-shirt with the caption NO GRAMMAR, NO CRY. We are sitting in a circle on some creaky old chairs. It's a familiar scene. No one wants to break the silence. It’s my turn to step out on a podium to speak. All eyes are on me. I freeze up for a brief moment (which actually feels like forever). 
I take a deep breath, clear my throat and say, “Hi, my name is Maria. And I'm a grammar junkie.” I pause to look around the room. I see folding tables and stale donuts on a plastic tray.

“Hi Maria,” the others say in unison. Everyone is here. It’s the regular weekly meeting of the group called Grammarholic Anonymous. I take another deep breath before I start my tale about my recent struggle.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Grammar Rules

I love the ocean. It’s seemingly endless and can be unpredictable.

I love grammar. A wise man told me once that grammar doesn’t exist. That I found disheartening. I wish he'd said, "We do not know if grammar exists or not, but it seems reasonable to assume that it does."

Grammar is almost like a living thing; mysterious and messy for its own sake. Sometimes, there are no rules. (Plus no freedom in how to use the non-existent rules.) Other times, it fully contradicts its own rules. No one knows why, it’s just the way it is. 

Grammar is a repeating offender in making rules fly out the window. And no one can say: “Hey you, contradictory grammar rule, you don't make any sense," because it actually does. And everyone agrees on that. 

I love grammar. It’s so much more than all of its seemingly endless rules combined. And it can be unpredictable. Just like the ocean.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


I used to thrift on a regular basis and I’ve always had my preferred places to go. As my favorite store switched to a lower quality stock, I hardly visit it anymore. What I like about thrifting is that each item I see on the racks is one of a kind. And who could resist that? Besides, by buying second hand, I’ve been doing my part in saving energy and resources required to produce new items. It’s good to give a used item a second chance to prolong its lifespan. I was sure I’ve been doing the right thing.

And what about maintenance? I saw no difference for new items or old ones in this regard. When doing laundry, I save electricity using lower temperature settings. I also save on water by capturing and reusing gray water. I thought there wasn’t much else to do there until I bumped into guppyfriend and learned about microfiber pollution. With each washing cycle, microfibers are released into the environment. What guppyfriend came up with is a wash bag that wouldn’t let those tiny particles seep into the water to be discharged with gray water.

The more I thought about it, the more I started to see microfibers as a curse. I could only see 2 options as to how to avoid microfiber pollution: to use natural fibers only that do not harm our water ways as they break down or, to fundamentally change the way we wash our clothes and eliminate water from the process. And I kept thinking... "Would tiny particles coming from natural fibers make any difference for aquatic life? Should guppies be on a “natural fiber” diet?" Even if the technology exists for waterless washing machines, we are still a long way from implementing it. It seems that guppyfriend offers a simple solution to the problem. 

GUPPY FRIEND is a German startup from Berlin, founded by LANGBRETT

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Master of Her Craft

I entered the shop from the street and had a short conversation with the owner about her job. That’s what she told me: She was born with a needle in her hand and she has been sewing as far as she could remember. She never makes the same dress twice. Nor does she create the exact replica of a dress from a picture; her design would always be different in some detail.

I asked her if she made coats from scratch. She was 12 years old when she first cut a sewing pattern of a coat, she said with pride, but she can’t do it anymore because of her strained hand. I couldn’t blame her if she never wanted to make coats again. I once tried to take an old coat apart and the task proved to be too difficult.

It took her 3 years to complete her studies as a tailor and another 5 years of apprenticeship to become a master craftsman. She has more than 50 years experience designing and making garments. When I asked her about other family members possessing the same set of skills she gave a definite no. Not even her grandchildren would show any interest in sewing, she added.