The Barbie Dream Haus

I got settled in Berlin around midnight and Skyped with my family for a little while to prove that I was not murdered or kidnapped. Apparently my grandmother was so thrilled being able to both see and talk to me, and on a hand-held tablet no less, that she couldn’t get to sleep that night. That’s not really a ringing endorsement considering she never sleeps, just “rests her eyes.” I on the other hand slipped into a coma for twelve hours. I had meant to wake up at 10 but apparently someone broke into my apartment that evening and turned off my alarm. Very disconcerting. No matter though because 2pm is a completely reasonable time to wake up in Berlin. I was afraid I’d missed the Turkish Market, one of the reasons I fell in love with Berlin in the first place, but I checked their website and they don’t even get rolling until 11:30. I love it, even the entrepreneurs are like, ‘yeah, noonish sounds good.’

The market is on a canal in the Kreuzberg area, which used to be cool but has been “discovered” and they’ll tell you it’s dead but that’s just to keep you from finding out it’s actually still cool. Tricky Berliners. The market is crowded as all hell and sells mainly fabric, produce, and delicious Turkish snacks. I went in with 7 euro, a little more than $9, and this was my bounty:


No way in hell could you get anywhere close to that at a market in New York. And yes, I bought 5 eggs, because even though they come in dozens at the supermarket, they’re sold by the 10-piece at the market. I’m sure there’s some charming legend about a Turkish prince behind this nonsensical business choice, but I haven’t looked into it.

Later that night I picked up Luke at Ostbanhof, he came to visit for a few days en route to France. Since it was basically Luke’s fault that my arm was in a sling, we spent Saturday doing things I wanted to do. Namely spending an hour trying on hiking backpacks and visiting the Barbie Dream House.

The sticker over the ad says "sexist crap shit"
The sticker over the ad says “sexist crap shit”

First of all, yes there is a life size Barbie Dream House in Berlin, and as you can imagine it looks like this:

IMG_0247 For some reason the anti-capitalist, critical consumer studies, former Barbie Dream House owner in me just needed to see it. It’s kind of stunning, this pink temple of consumerism and pseudo-femininity in a former socialist capital. We didn’t go in of course, because it costs money and we’re also just not that masochistic.

“Dear god,” as I stared at all the parents with their pink-clad children “I would never take my kids here.” Luke then informed that that was stupid and that kids should be allowed to like what they want. Which is true, and I thought back to my toddlerhood when I desperately needed a Barbie Dream House of my own. One Christmas when I was four or five my parents assembled the pastel monstrosity and hid it, then wrapped up the empty box so that they could have the schadenfreude pleasure of watching me be alternately elated and then devastated upon opening the box, “Santa forgot it…” And really, what kind of parent would I be if I denied my child the $100 in foreign-made pink plastic (or several hundred dollars in therapy bills)? Better to let her come to her own feminist conclusions later on in life.

The ironic part of all this is that the apartment I’m subletting is essentially my own private Barbie Dream House hell. There are pink chandeliers, plastic flowers and butterflies and cupcakes everywhere, and dozens and dozens of pairs of high heels that are about as ergonomic as the ones Barbie herself couldn’t stand in, with her massive tits and impossibly bent ankles.

IMG_0273I really can’t complain because it’s great having an entire apartment to myself, even if it’s a little far away from the trendier neighborhoods. The place is cheap and huge with lots of natural light and it’s removed from the frenzy of the center city. But my neighborhood, Wedding (pronounced Vedding), is a bit of a hike and kind of lame if you’re not a Turkish immigrant, so none of my friends want to come check out my amazing Barbie digs. Now I know what it must have felt like to live in Brooklyn in the ‘90s. 


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