Archive for the ‘Guest Blog / Interviews’ Category

Interview – Leipziger Volkszeitung

Monday, October 20th, 2014

The following is a reprint of an interview that appeared in the Leipziger Volkszeitung Online (LVZ-Online) on October 6, 2014. Evelyn ter Vehn conducted the interview:

Von Berlin nach San Diego: J. Elke Ertle stellt ihre Geschichte in Leipzig vor. Leipzig. Sie stand auf der Westseite, als die Mauer in Berlin hochgezogen wurde. Trotzdem fuehlte sie sich aus vielen Gruenden eingegrenzt. Jutta Elke Ertle ist im Nachkriegs-Berlin aufgewachsen und wanderte spaeter nach Amerika aus. Im Rahmen der Lichtfest-Veranstaltungen kommt sie am Dienstag nach Leipzig und stellt ihr Buch “Walled-In” (Eingemauert) vor: Eine persoehnliche Reise in die Freiheit. LVZ-Online sprach mit der US-Autorin.

Ihre Kindheit war gepraegt vom Mauerbau-Erlebnis und dem Leben in einem geteilten Berlin. 1989 lebten Sie schon lange in Kalifornien. Wie haben Sie den Mauerfall erlebt?

Ich habe die Fernsehbilder gesehen, und ich fuehlte eine grosse Freude fuer alle, die diese Freiheit erlebten. Nie haette ich gedacht, dass es mit dem Mauerfall mal so schnell gehen koennte.

Was war der Ausloeser dafuer, ihre persoehnliche Berlin-Geschichte aufzuschreiben?

Mauern haben in meinem Leben eine besondere Bedeutung gehabt. Da gab es die Berliner Mauer, aber auch die elterlichen “Mauern”, die fuer mich als Teenager noch viel wichtiger waren. 1989 habe ich an all das wieder gedacht. Als ich in den Ruhestand ging, fing ich an, darueber zu schreiben. Und ploetzlich hatte ich 200 Seiten gefuellt.

Durch welche elterlichen Mauern haben Sie sich am staerksten eingeschraenkt gefuehlt?

Meine Eltern waren sehr gut  solange ich alle Regeln befolgte. Vor allem beim Thema Jungs waren sie aber viel strenger als die Eltern meiner Freundinnen. Andererseits hielten sie ein Studium nicht fuer wichtig, weil sie davon ausgingen, dass ich heiraten wuerde. Ich habe dann eine amerikanische Familie kennengelernt, in der es viel offener zuging. Da habe ich gewusst: Ich moechte das fuer mein Leben auch so hinkriegen, dass ich einmal fuer mich selbst entscheiden kann.

Sie sind dann tatsaechlich nach Amerika ausgewandert. Wie kam es dazu?

Eigentlich wollte ich nur ein Jahr nach San Diego, um meine Sprachkenntnisse zu vertiefen, vor allem aber wollte ich unabhaengiger werden. Aber mit einem Besuchervisum haette ich in den USA nicht arbeiten koennen, und ich musste mir alles selbst finanzieren. An meinem 21. Geburtstag bekam ich dann die Genehmigung fuer die Einwanderung.

Sie sind jetzt auf Lesereise in Deutschland. Was wollen Sie den Menschen mit auf den Weg geben?

Wenn jemand meine Freiheit einschraenken will, ohne die Berechtigung dazu zu haben, straeuben sich mir die Nackenhaare. Das Buch zeigt: Wenn man den Willen hat, etwas zu aendern, kann man auch viel schaffen.

„Walled-In. A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom“, 7. Oktober 2014, 19 Uhr, Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (Vortragsraum 2. Obergeschoss). Die Lesung wird vom US-Generalkonsulat Leipzig in Kooperation mit der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek veranstaltet. Das Grusswort haelt US-Generalkonsul Scott Riedmann. Die Veranstaltung findet auf Deutsch und Englisch statt, der Eintritt ist frei.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

Big Boys

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Big Boys is the title of a story that won “Best of Dime Stories” recognition at a recent San Diego Dime Stories reading – an open mic event at which authors present three-minute prose. Big Boys is a touching Big-Guy-Little-Guy story that closes with a provoking quote. Don Ryan is a painter as well. Visit him at Facebook to view some of his work.

BIG BOYS

by Don Ryan

Little boys know there are bigger boys. And that they are not a bigger boy. They are not as fast. They are not as strong. They must be deferential. Or assertive at their peril. That in time they will become bigger boys does not compensate. Even if they get bigger, the bigger boys will also get bigger and the little boys will just be bigger little boys.

We would meet on a grassless lot, strewn with pebbles and glass. A sand-lot. Our uniforms were our after-school street clothes. The game was football, tackle football. No two-hand touch, no flags to grab. The players were a mix of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.  Two captains were selected by vote-less affirmation.  They threw fingers, odds or evens, for first choice. The order of selection was usually an accurate reflection of how you could play.  Little guys were picked last. I was a little guy.

Plays were scratched in the dirt of the sandlot.  I never got an assignment to run with the ball, or to go out for a pass. I might be told as an afterthought: You stay in and block. I guess our quarterback got tired of repeating himself, telling me to stay in and block, so he told me to go deep for a pass. Of course the other team ignored me and I was five yards in back of the defenders when I looked around. Our quarterback was scrambling and couldn’t find anyone open to pass to. Except me.

What the hell, better an incomplete pass than a loss behind the line of scrimmage. So he let go with a heave of desperation in my direction.

The ball floated in the air like a Goodyear Blimp with laces. It slowed as it rose to its apogee, then accelerated as it arched down at me below. Never had I seen such a majestic flight, then or since. To my own disbelief, my arms cradled it in. I turned and raced to the goal line.

The defense was incredulous and outraged, stomping their feet, pointing their fingers and yelling at each other, and smacking their heads in disgust. I don’t remember how my team reacted. I do remember that after that when sides were picked, I was chosen sooner. And more passes came my way.

So what? There are more ways of becoming a big boy than having birthdays. Was an event that happened to an eight-year-old, so long ago, important? Someone has said:

Greatness, however brief,

Stays with one 

Forever.

Indeed. Decades later, I am still telling the story.

 

Dime Stories is a Meetup Group that learns or shares something http://www.meetup.com/DimeStories/. They meet on the second Friday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at San Diego Writer’s Ink at NTC at Liberty Station, 2730 Decatur Blvd., Barrack 16, Suite 204, San Diego, CA 92106.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

 

Interview with B. Jetton

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Q: What inspired you to write Walled-In?

A: We often take our freedom for granted, both our physical and our psychological freedom. I grew up with very little of both. In my memoir I try to take the reader on a trip into the realities of growing up in a divided city that is governed by other nations, of growing up behind the Berlin Wall, and of growing up with overprotective parents. In that environment, it is tough to develop independence and self-confidence.

 

Q: Do you think that the topics addressed in your book are universal issues?

A: Yes, I do. I think it is important that we teach our children to look at all sides of an issue before making decisions, to be responsible for and depend on themselves, and to try to discover and experiment. And most of all, we must allow them to make their own mistakes.

 

Q: You say you grew up behind not one, but two, insurmountable walls: the Berlin Wall and the one your parents erected. Which wall did you consider harder to scale?

A: As a teenager, I would have said the obstacles my parents created were far more difficult to overcome. Although time consuming and tedious, as West Berliners we had the ability to escape the Berlin Wall, but there was no running away from my parental walls.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com