The Slow Typist

This is the first post I have ever written using my phone. Well, I’m writing it now.
The reasons for this are plentiful: for once, I love my laptop and I love tying away on it. Also, I am excruciatingly slow when I type on my phone and it requires my undivided attention. If I want to send someone a message while I’m walking somewhere, I have to stop so I don’t fall over or walk into a street lamp.
Another issue is that I message and type in more than one language and although my autocorrect is in English, I have it set so that it remembers words I use. This slows down the process even more as I can’t rely on my phone to autocorrect “im” to “I’m” because it knows the word “im” from my German correspondence (it means “in”).
So why am I changing my ways all the sudden? Well, I have recently come to rely on my phone more and more as my Internet is constantly down and I have grown to love it. So here we go. I’ve just taken this relationship a step further.

B x

The Tinder Bases

I have never understood ‘the base system’. Firstly, that is surely connected to the fact that I have no idea how baseball works (I assume it is related to baseball…), but it is also because I, when I finally felt I did not risk being uncool by asking people what they meant when they said “Taylor and I went third base” (see what I did there – gender-neutral name!), people started explaining the base system to me, but somehow, their answers differed quite a bit.

Also, I never really saw the need for it. We live in the age of over-sharing and if someone really wants me to know what they did with Taylor, they might as well go ahead and tell me in plain old English (or German or Spanish or Danish). The other issue I have with that whole idea is that, let’s be honest, there is no set order for all these shenanigans. I mean, really. (Once we’re on the topic – isn’t it way more intimate to put someone else’s parts in my mouth that in my lady hole? I mean, my lady parts are somewhere down there, but my mouth is in my face! Near my eyes and my nose and my brains!)

So, anyway, sometimes I do notice when things tend to occur in a sequence, and it makes me very happy. Spotting patterns is a major past time of mine, so you’ll understand my excitement.

And now let’s get on to my discovery (or invention – that’s always the question, isn’t it?): There is a pattern to people’s interactions on Tinder, that infamous dating/hooking up app.

Here in Germany things are always a bit late. Blockbusters, for example, and fashion, and also pretty much everything else (when my friends from the UK came visiting they said they felt like they had been transported back into the 80s, because of the way some people dress and the colourful, cheap advertising). Here, Tinder is still quite a new thing. It started dawning on people about half a year ago and is still being discovered. Therefore, it is always a hot conversation topic. From these conversations (and, yes, also from my own experience), I deducted the Tinder Base System:

1st Base: Messaging On Tinder – You’ve been swiping, you have been matched and have now started a dialogue. Yet, it is still very, very informal. All you know about that other person is their (supposed) name, their (supposed) age and some pictures that don’t really hold up as airtight evidence. On the other hand, if they get creepy or annoying or whatever, you can unmatch them in a second, and don’t have to worry about them ever again.

2nd Base: Messaging On Whatsapp – You’re still messaging! This is a new level though, because you have passed the first hurdle and exchanged numbers. This, of course, is another tiny commitment, because you (and they also) have now invited them into a part of your actual real-world life (after all you use the same app for messaging friends, family, colleagues). And, other than when you give someone your number in a bar, chances are they are actually going to message you (seeing as they have already done so). The downside, on the other hand, is that they now have your number – your actual real life number – and if they turn out to be too attached/potential mass murderers/just not your type, even if you block them on Whatsapp they can now text and/or call you.

3rd Base: Speaking On The Phone – This is an optional step and often left out. If someone wants to speak to you on the phone before meeting you in person, they probably (unless phone sex is involved) see Tinder as a dating rather than a hooking up app.

Home Run: The Meet-up – Depending your intention and their intention this might be a romantic date in a cafe or any sort of copulation in any sort of place (or both). In any case, the app has done its job: It has connected two people who otherwise probably wouldn’t have met.

What do you think of it? Invention or discovery?

B x

Guilty

Neglecting your blog feels a bit like neglecting your child. It gives you the impression of being a bad human being. And frankly, if you neglect your child that does kind of make you a bad person. And yes, I’m a grown woman I should know that no one really cares if I don’t blog for a while, and even if they did, neglecting a blog does not automatically make you a bad person (although, if you neglect both your blog and your child, you’re still a bad person in the grand scheme of things, sorry).

Well, anyway. I’m not making my point very clear. The good person/bad person debate is of no importance and I have no affiliation with child neglect, so don’t worry. Thing is, I started blogging almost two months ago because I thought it might make me happier. And it did. It still does. But at the same time, it has also added to my daily guilt. Where the voice only said ‘You should study for your exams!’ and ‘You should sleep less!’ and ‘Wash your hands!’ it now also adds ‘You should write a post’, it questions ‘When exactly was the last time you published something?’ and mocks me with ‘You can’t even blog!’.

This was not the plan! I did not plan to turn my “I could start a blog” into an “I should write a post”. I’m tired of the coulds and shoulds. To be fair, my plan was not too helpful. Of course it planned that blogging would make me happy and wholesome, but I had also promised to write a post a day, which, you know, is possible (and was a lot of fun), but also very demanding. Then, I didn’t do myself a favour in this regard by signing up to all sorts of Blogging University courses. Well, I kind of did. These courses are amazing. They motivate you, challenge you and, most of all, provide an opportunity to connect with loads of other people. I would wholeheartedly recommend them. But I was now faced with an additional daily assignment that guilt-trapped me.

Looking back, I should have done either or: Either following my own agenda or fully committing to the course. Okay, now switch the positive thinking on: The only thing worse than the shoulds and coulds are the should have dones, so rephrasing is needed. I have learned not to put too much on my plate because I have recognised that I am no good at dealing with guilt, so I will act accordingly in the future. There we go.

Now, of course, a new plan (a better plan!) is needed. I must warn you, it is in it’s early stages, but I can already disclose that it involves fewer posts (I know, but would you please try and keep the sobbing down), an editorial calendar and weekly feature(s)!

Hehe, my ‘L’ key is a bit moody so I kept typing ‘pan’ instead of ‘plan’. Such giggles.

Stay cosy

B x

I Blame You, You Blame Me

I want to go back to bed. I must be ill. There’s definitely cold sweat, definitely. Is it a fever? I just want to go back to bed. Slowly creep underneath the covers, noone has to notice, and just lie there in the warm and safe envelope that is my bed. I have a special bond with my bed. Even though the bed changes, sometimes night after night, it always seems to be the same bed. My bed is where I’m home, no matter where I actually am. Sometimes it fails me, my bed. It fails to protect me from that person in the hostel room whose snores are drilling into my skull. It fails to muffle the sounds of my friend and her boyfriend making out next to me.

Somehow, my bed has also become my enemy. It is like I’ve betrayed it. I have to resist its constant almost magnetic pull and I hate it for the strength this requires. Strength I need for other things. I also curse it for being so possessive. Why can’t it just be happy with having me in its arms during the dark of the night? I’d like to spend the day without it, I need some space. There’s nothing to it. The chairs I sit on, the streets I walk, the things I lean on, they’ve got nothing on you, dear. We’re just friends. Yet, its jealousy ruins my relationship with the chairs, the streets, the things. And I, annoyed and exhausted and resentful, deny you my company when it gets dark. At two or three in the morning we make up reluctantly, because we rely on each other, we need each other. And when the sun rises, the whole ordeal begins anew.

Why, why can’t we escape this truly vicious cycle? We are slowly ruining each other, day after day, as the anger and the contempt grow ever and evermore. Of course, I blame you, and you blame me, and there is a nice symmetry to this. But we can’t go on. Maybe we need a break. But we can’t break, can we? You follow me wherever I go, wherever I sleep. You are home. And I’m still happy when I’m with you. Our nightly reunions are such a relief and pleasure that sometimes I think, maybe it’s worth it, maybe all the drama is worth it, just for that moment of unity.

But it’s not, is it. My unhealthy relationship with my bed poisons my waking hours. It makes me hate myself and sleep through what could have been my life. It is my own version of meth. It fills me with regret and resentment and brings me sadness and frustration. I will never get away from it, it will be there, no matter where I sleep, on heavenly futons, dirty sheets and disappointing roll mats. But maybe we should just be friends.

B x

Success And Failure And Everything In Between

Over the last month or so I have failed continouously, a little bit every day. No doubt, I have done so every day of my life from my early attempts at legible speech and coherent motion as a small child to what could be considered a ‘normal’ day in 2014. This seems to be one of my inherent faults. I will continue to fail, every single day of my life. This means I will have to be careful not to write every day off as a failure, simply because I failed.

Ultimately, the flaw is in the semantics. I was simply taught it wrong (or I learned it wrong…): The conjunction that joins the words “success” and “failure” is not an “either, or”, it is an “and”. They coexist. They might even live in some sort of symbiotic dependence. Although this might seem like a petty detail, it is not. Don’t we all strive to be successful? Depending on our understanding of “success”, we have two very different goals. One, where “success” implies the absence of failure, is virtually impossible to attain and tends to be temporary. The meaning that I’d prefer still needs some defining. Maybe “successful” could mean that our successes are more frequent or meaningful than our failures. I’d like that very much. It would make a much better life goal.

Now, despite my trailing off into my beloved semantics, there are of course other flaws in my strive for success than just the meaning of words. When joined a new school to complete the last two years of my education before university, my dad used to mock the ‘school spirit’ that senior members of the ‘Sixth Form Management Team’ tried to inflict upon us, desinterested and distracted sixteen-year olds, during endless assemblies. My dad (who received a weekly Sixth Form newsletter) and I who had grown accustomed to the German school system (where the school and its employees seemed similarly desinterested as the students themselves, and such attempts would have been both unthinkable and reidiculous), where baffled by these attempts, however ineffective they might have been.

The reason why we, my dear reader, have strayed yet again to the land of anecdotes is this: What my dad enjoyed mocking most was the schools motto (there was also a mission statement of several pages and what I believe to have been the school’s internal equivalent of the ten commandments). And, yes, I will finally return to my actual topic of success and failure now.

“Every Student The Best They Can Be”

That was it. Pretentious and belitteling at the same time, but in the context of my school the intended meaning becomes clear quite quickly. It was a large school in a rural setting that taught students from age 12 to 19, some of which would go on to read mathematics at Cambridge and others who would become hair dressers or traffic wardens or stay-at-home mums (or dads). I don’t mean to judge any of these life choices, I’m just trying to illustrate my schools broad academic spectrum.

But when you are sitting in an assembly that is boring you to death and you have the time to ponder over the multiple meanings of this motto, you have the time to realise that this is similarly impossible as being “successful” in the conservative way is. I will never be the best version of myself and if I continuously tried to I would fail over and over again. There will always be more things I could to and things I could do better and all of that. But in the end, cursing the things I am not or did not do will make me neither more successful (in all the possible ways) nor happier.

I can warmly recommend doing a happiness project just for the sake of having these tiny realisations, as you put your ticks and crosses on your resolutions chart night after night and celebrate the successes and, depending on your mood at the time, either shrug off or contemplate your failures.

B x

Reading And Sleeping And All That

Finally (FINALLY!) my internet works again. I shift from thinking “the regular internet-free time enforced upon me is an opportunity – no more distraction”, to being like “why, WHY do I have to live in a building where the internet regularly just stops functioning for days or weeks on end???!”. Probably, it has been both.

It stopped working last Saturday, in the morning. In the time from Saturday evening and Wednesday I have read four books. My usual average is a book a week (which I struggle to keep up with). So that is definitely a point for the “we should live without internet”, others supporting this view are the amount of time I wasted on Netflix (none), Facebook (none) or reading up on some obscure things that are of no importance or relevance to me (none).

There are, however, of course also some downsides to being offline. Making something as simple as a bank transfer suddenly becomes a considerable task (using the internet at the library, which is painfully slow, for something as sensitive as online banking always makes me a bit queasy, hackers and all that). Looking up the bus times is impossible (Maybe I should also add that I had already used up my monthly mobile internet allowance before Saturday… oops!), contacting someone ends up being a lot less casual (ugh, I hate talking on the phone!), and it does majorly inhibit the work I have to do for university. For example, I use Duolingo to help me learn my languages, and with it’s complex graphics and sound effects, it was impossible to use it over the library internet.

When it comes to entertainment and information, as well, I really only have books and the internet to rely upon: no TV, no newspaper, no nothing. And the gravest flaw when it comes to reading as entertainment and pastime, for me, is that I so easily fall asleep when doing it. And I don’t just sleep for, you know, 20 minutes or an hour: I wake up after four to six hours, completely disorientated with my contact lenses burning in my eyes. Not very nice.

In this particular case, additionally, the temporary absence of internet connection from my life meant that I was not able to blog (sorry, dear reader!). As an integrated part of our ever-reflecting society (I read Eat Pray Love at the tender age of thirteen), this stimulated my brain – was my life better/worse without me blogging every day? Well, it was certainly different. Not only because the reading and sleeping and all that, but while I did not miss blogging as such, I did notice some changes in my daily life. The days seemed to pass quicker. I was rushing from place to place, and fell into bed exhausted in the evening. And while I ticked off my resolutions chart every night, I did not think about happiness once. Not once. Although I’m meant to be in the midst of a happiness project. Scary.

But I will not dwell. The internet is back (for now) and I will be able to blog every day, reflect the hell out of my tiny insignificant life. Yay!

B x

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away – If Only!

So, strictly I have already broken my resolution to blog daily, but hey, my day hasn’t ended yet, I’m still awake! Although I could easily go on about myself and my little failures for hours and hours on end, today, we have a specific topic. And, no, I haven’t even looked at today’s Blogging101 assignment, but the again, if I had, there wouldn’t be anything to catch up on during the weekend…

May I introduce today’s topic (*drum roll*): doctors! Not the PhD kind of doctors like in the Big Bang Theory but the ones in the white coats: GPs, dentists, orthopedics, orthodontists, surgeons, radiologists, gynecologists, urologists (while we’re at it),… All of those. The idea came to me (surprise!) while I was in the doctor’s waiting room this morning. I have a lot to say about doctors. Well, less about doctors, but about going to the doctor’s, which I intensely dislike.

Let me start at the beginning. If you want or need to go to see a doctor, you have to make an appointment. Not so many years ago, I used to be terrified of speaking on the phone. Answering the phone was bad, but calling someone or somewhere was way worse. While my social skills have improved drastically since then, calling to make a doctor’s appointment is still one of those few occasions that I am not entirely comfortable with. Firstly, they often let you hold the line for ages and then when you finally get through to them, you speak to some brash assistant nurse. Then you have to coordinate schedules, which is always a bit stressful (I just made a doctor’s appointment three hours before an important exam…, huge mistake! I’ll have to cancel that one and get a new one, another phone call!). And they might suddenly ask you loads of things which you are meant to have on hand, like the name of your insurance and I always get terrified of getting something as easy as my own birthday wrong when put on the spot like that.

Assuming you have your appointment now, the trouble isn’t over, it has just begun. If you want to see a specialist, for example, be prepared to wait three months for that 10-minute appointment. But let’s not dwell on this minor detail, after all, there is a ton of social awkwardness awaiting you when you arrive for that appointment that we haven’t even mentioned yet. You enter the practice and there it is: level one, the counter that you’re meant to register at. Usually, the assistant nurse secretary person is either talking to another patient or talking on the phone or altogether absent. If you’re particularly blessed there will also be a little ‘wait here’ line like at the post office or the airport. If there’s no one there, what do you do? Do you stay awkwardly behind the line? Or do you intrude? If there is someone there and that someone is talking on the phone or to another patient, even if you stay behind the line it will be impossible for you to not listen to their conversation. You know that and they know that and it makes us all so very very uncomfortable.

Of course, making it to the waiting room (level 2) now seems like a major relief and magazines often save you from awkward stares. The absolute silence that is so often characteristic of these situations makes taking your coat off or grabbing a magazine a huge event though and you will be guaranteed some disapproving looks. And is it just me, or is anyone also afraid that they might not hear their name properly when the assistant nurse person calls your name? Longest I have waited at a doctor’s was four hours! But then, in comparison, longest I have waited in a hospital was seven hours, so not too bad then.

Say you do hear your name properly then you make it to level 3, where you are assigned to a consultation room (sometimes there is also an intermediate level where they make you sit in another waiting area before pointing to a consultation room). Here, the wait continues. And you can’t even use the time and concentrate on your reading because chances are a doctor and/or a nurse will pop in and look for something, take something from the room or type something into a computer (again you can’t help to read what they’re writing!). Ideally, when you reach level 4 you have made it: You are talking to a doctor and he/she will help you.

Of course now you might have difficulties describing your concerns, or you might wish you had worn more conservative underwear or whatever, but the long wait and the difficulties that you have mastered on your way here have made you brave and strong and you can deal with these problems now. Congratulations! You’ve made it. Get well soon.

Unlucky of course if you have not made it quite yet and the doctor wants to take a sample, a swab, get an x-ray, a CAT scan or an MRI or whatever else might spring to mind. Then you can prepare to do the whole ordeal again, maybe repeatedly even. Good luck!

Another side effect of these long processes is naturally that whatever the doctor tells you when you made it to level 4 feels like a victory at first, you’re just happy to be able to talk to a goddamn doctor, no matter how serious and shattering the diagnosis might be.

Hallelujah to that!

B x

(Soz to be such a downer today…)