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I am interested in paradoxes, contradictions, people, culture, and being human. I write and translate DE-EN | MFA student Non-Fiction. www.bettinahindes.com

Tough but worth it! Why the German language can be so fun

Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

Compound Words

Germans are known for having a word for everything. This is not only due to the observant and intelligent culture of the German-speaking world, but the ingeniousness of German grammar. You can play mix n’ match with nouns, adjectives, verbs, and prepositions to create neologisms all day long! Combining words to make new, longer ones with more complex meanings can be fun, and there’s a unique satisfaction to mastering the trick.

In German, these compound words, which can get very long, are known as Mammutwörter — mammoth words. …


A year of adventures in Berlin — from dates to public transportation snafus

Between Gesundbrunnen and Schönhauseralle Sbahn Berlin

December

On my way to see a lover, I must walk past the fenced-in Christmas tree business near the Landsberger Allee S-Bahn station. It covers almost a square kilometer with over one hundred pine trees on display, pointing towards the overcast skies. What looks like one thousand more are stacked neatly in their plastic sheaths, like missiles in a depot. Waiting to be deployed to a family for Christmas in this city of angels. These same trees discarded like last month’s Tinder hookup will be piled high on…


Observations on a Baseball Game from a Non-sporty American

Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash

Section 214, seat number 5 at the Kaufman Stadium, Kansas City in July for a game between the Kansas Royals versus the Baltimore Orioles.

We are sitting in the second to last row from the top. I smell hot dogs and beer. Immediately the sweating begins. My butt is sweating on this plastic seat and sticking to it. Everyone around me is sweating too, they are ostensibly here of their own free will. People begin clapping in unison at specific times to recorded musical ditties. I am surrounded by white people. …


On Breakdowns and Books

Photo of Penn Ave in Pittsburgh on an overcast day with mural of black bride in white dress on old brick building
Penn Ave in Pittsburgh Photo by Author

In the autumn of 2017, I fell into myself. Humbly returning to my center with a flag of defeat dragging behind me like a party streamer after a summer storm. Collapse was inevitable. I had sought myself — and a home — all over the globe and in others for far too long. I became acutely aware of how much of myself I had pinned to the scaffolding of others as it came crumbling down. I sat for days in a borrowed meditation chair; I held a book in my hands again. …


How I learned that my writing skills are in high demand for digital content.

Pink sticky notes with different phrases from UX design and writing, hand holding sticky in foreground with phrase
UX Writing is more than just card sorting

What is UX Writing?

If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “What?” when I told them I was taking a course in UX writing and they gave me that look, well, I’d have a good chunk of change by now.

For the past five months, I have been participating in the UX Writing Hub’s online course founded by tech entrepreneur Yuval Keshtcher. This course teaches the fine art of micro-copy for apps and websites and shows by example and through practical exercises what the industry will eventually come to call UX writing.

This job is still called many other things like…


Berlin Unicorns

Unicorn-Teddy-Bear Tree in northern Berlin

I miss the gypsies feeding their children ice-cream and Coke Cola in the subway. The traditional, pink, flowery scarves covering half their round dark heads, and their dangly golden earrings add color to Berlin’s dreary winters. I could learn a lot from these women. Roma is what they are called now. They don’t give a flying hoot about what anyone outside of their clan thinks. With their 5“ slip-on wedge heels and chartreuse socks, long velvet-red skirts, huge fuzzy white tops with thousands of glittery tassels and rhinestones under contrasting vests.

They say that in Berlin you can wear anything…


Lived Through This

Finding my voice as a woman and veteran

Closeup silhouette of a female soldier.
Photo: Alina Linnik/EyeEm/Getty Images

When I was 25, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. During basic training, I wrote “It is a privilege to be oneself” in my journal. I scribbled those words under incredible physical and emotional distress, stripped of all indicators and standards of selfhood. Face-down in the muddy soil of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, I decided to kill myself. Interestingly, it was another woman — my female drill sergeant — who contributed to my decision that death was preferable to failure.

Her verbal abuse for my lack of manliness made me hate my attempt to be both female and a soldier…


Reflections on Enlisted Life on the Presidio

Photo by Kevin Wolf on Unsplash

Something happens when the full moon approaches and the fog from the Monterey Bay comes rolling in off the water, past the herds of deer and seagulls dropping scat on freshly polished cars, mocking the pride and joy of eager young Privates and Marine Corporals … the late-night madness comes floating in with that fog, oozing down from the full moon like some unhinging sound-effect, making the tears in our soul-fabric rip a little further, the chasms bore a little deeper into our psyche.

Something happens on the Presidio of Monterey where bouts with alcoholism, drug abuse, broken families, meth…


A poem about what matters in a pandemic

What Is Essential?

What actually matters in a pandemic?

Photo by Sabrina Heinkeon Unsplash

Some things are not:

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp…

Memes galore

All cling like creeping ivy to the battered tree of me

Gradually strangling what little free space is left in my soul

The life blood of my attention drained away

But I can’t remember a time without them

Like those hairy vines with their shiny three-pronged leaves signaling danger:

— if you try to extract this one you will regret it later

— welts and blisters bubbling in remorse

Our dysfunctional digital lives make identification…


Mondays in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Rudaki statue in Rudaki Park, Dushanbe -Photo by author

A reflection on my language study in Central Asia’s smallest country

The capital city of Tajikistan, the poorest of the former Soviet Republics is Dushanbe. It actually means Monday, and received its name because it grew from a village that hosted a weekly Monday bazaar, becoming the capital in 1929. There is still a lot of village left in this capital city though! I spent nine months living there in 2010–2011 while studying Persian and although things have modernized even more since then, I’m told there are certain experiences that remain the same.

The Tajiki language is a dialect of Persian, having been the northern region of the once great and…

Bettina Hindes

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