Work Hard, Play Hard

I am addicted. Others might succumb to heroine or chocolate, but this is my weakness: it’s computer games. Now you might think I’m one of those nerds playing World of Warcraft 24/7, but to be fair, I’m a bit of a coward and quite jumpy, so thins is not for me. And although I might be addicted, I still get bored quite quickly (also I’m a bit of a pacifist, so no shooting, please!).

The story of my addiction goes back quite far. Still, it started unexpectedly: As a kid I loathed board games. I simply hated them. Also, I am very much not a competitive person (unlike my Dad and the majority of my friends). The game that triggered me was The Sims. The very first version. Oh, I loved it. Then came Sims 2 which was just not the same and by the time they published Sims 3, I wasn’t paying attention anymore. Like so often, sequels are a risk.

Then my story went on and while I was in middle school bad quality online-games took hold of me. Here, I was not in to win it, I was in to finish it. Just a few weeks ago some friends and I got caught up in a (seemingly) endless game of Penguin Diner. As we sobered up, serving meals to penguins became less and less enticing. But what can you do? You gotta finish that bloody game.

So why am I telling you all of this now? Because I have found a new game that caught my attention (and continues to do so). Strictly, it is not even a game, but everyone who has tried it will know that, really, it is: DUOLINGO. I love that site. And the added benefit: you learn things. No more feeling guilty after hours of playing. And still you get all the lovely play features: the wonderful sound effects, the level ups and the colourful graphics! Then, with the “streak” feature, you’re also compelled to do it EVERY DAY. Seriously, for a modern languages student like me this is the dream!

I’ll have to go no, gotta strengthen those skills!

B x

Blogosphere And Wills And Ways

As part of her happiness project Gretchen Rubin launched a blog. This was part of my inspiration to revitalize a blog I had started while without internet (who has an idea like that? Read it here) but not continued regularly – this blog. So now, as part of me mirroring that lady’s resolutions, it is time for me to use this as a pit stop and reflect upon how it is going.

Well, I guess, once you have you blog all set up, all you need to do is write, and, if you’re lucky, there’s people out there reading what you are writing. But, let me tell you, the first steps aren’t that easy when you’re new to the blogosphere (I hope people don’t actually use that as a word in real life), it is pretty confusing. What I have learned: The settings are your friends. Many problems get resolved if you just go through them once from beginning to end.

Apart from that, I am sort of having an odd start into daily blogging, because I started a week before I left uni for Christmas break and I knew I would not have time to write a blog post daily, yet I was not ready to fail my resolution to ‘blog daily’ every single day for over two weeks. So, what did I do? I though of some more or less things I could write about and then I wrote all of the posts in advance, scheduled them and left the blog to itself till I returned to Germany. Well, at least that was the plan. Turns out it’s not that easy to write fifteen blog posts in very little time especially when, like me, you have a tendency to write long elaborate sentences. So I am now halfway into Christmas break and I’ve managed to post daily, although I didn’t really have the time, and am now writing the last few posts so that I can finally lean back and fulfill my responsibilities towards my friends and family.

But, as they say in German ‘Wo ein Wille ist, ist auch ein Weg’ (where there’s a will, there is also a way), and I will manage to keep this one resolution. And I am also extremely blessed to have readers from four different continents (where are you, Africa?!), people who actually read what I write!!!! So, yes, going strong. And I intend to continue this streak.

B x

The Happiness Project

So I’ve had a bit of a low recently. Don’t exactly know why, but I guess I’m in a bit of a weird point in my life right now and I couldn’t really handle it.

Still can’t, to be honest. Right now I should be sitting in a seminar that I enjoy and that I learn a lot from yet I am here, at home in my room typing this. Everything seems to require so much energy. The reason I didn’t go to the seminar is that I didn’t do the homework and the preparation it required, but the reason I didn’t do those? I don’t know, I just couldn’t get myself to do it. This seems to be the case with everything lately. The horrible thing is that I know exactly what I need to do to feel better, but even if it’s just something like boiling the kettle and putting on some music I just can’t get myself to do it. And that is ridiculously annoying. Also because I find myself guilt-ridden for not doing anything all the time.

To be fair, I have been doing some things. They range from actions as small (but essential) as doing laundry and cleaning the bathroom to more grand (okay, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration) activities like writing (and sending off) Christmas cards to all my friends and family and signing up for driving lessons. And I am writing this.

So, the reason I am writing this is probably something you have all experienced, being human: I want to be happy. Or at least satisfied, inspired, driven and/or encouraged. Who doesn’t. Spending my days wallowing over the things I don’t while I simultaneously neglect the things I should be doing is an awful waste of my time. And it’s not only that these are things I should do, these are things I really want to do. Ugh, it’s annoying.

Anyways, that’s that, I will take action now. It also coincides with yet another important statement: I’d like to out my self as a major fan of self-help books. At the same time I despise them. It is amazing how self-help books only ever tell you thing you already know. Yet, they manage to present these universal truths or lies in such a way that they suddenly seem more clear, more innovative, more inspiring and easier to achieve. Amazing. Become who you want to be in ten easy steps. Easy. 250 pages and voila, there you are. I must admit, I totally fall for that. My latest discovery in this field is a book called “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s been around quite a while now, there have been sequels and accompanying merchandise and all that. It is one of those autobiographies re-purposed as a self-help inspiration. Of course, how much you enjoy reading these and to what extend the do or don’t inspire you is entirely up to what kind of person the writer is and what kind of person you are. Well, the writer is an Upper East side wife, writer and mother of two in her thirties and I am not even in my twenties, have some considerable commitment issues and live in a student dorm in Germany. Couldn’t be more different. Especially because she is the kind of person to have every minute of her day planned out with reading groups, gym classes, dinner parties and of course the hobby-dobby-do, an array of leisure activities. Yet, I like that her book comes undisguised and some of what she says and does makes sense to me too.

One thing she does is list and refer to things she learned as an adult. I can do that too:

It is okay to just like parts of a book and not the whole thing. The eating part of “Eat, Pray, Love”, for example, was really entertaining, while I found the rest to be sentimental bullshit. And that’s completely fine.

Clearly, I don’t give any shits about the months she spent working on her marriage and her parenting skills. I couldn’t be less thrilled about those. And I intensely dislike the her tone and general world view, but that lady struck a nerve with me when she mentioned a realization about how we will only ever be us. I will only ever like the things I like. I will only ever take the path that I take. With every decision we kill lots and lots of possibilities (and give birth to lots and lots of new ones, but that’s irrelevant in this context). I’ve been aware of this for quite a while (what did I tell you, self-help books never tell you anything new) and it has been a considerable source of my Weltschmerz (isn’t the German language resourceful).

Apart from this one realization the other thing I like is how this woman does things. Her way of trying to find happiness is not to meditate or find herself or whatever, but she just does things. Little things. And God knows, it is time for me to also do things.

So yeah, I’m going to become an expert on second-language acquisition, I’ll do all the small things that need to be done (eating, sleeping, showering, …) without making a fuss, I’ll finally get a grip on this whole blogging thing and whatever else springs to mind. Get ready to hear from me soon.

B x

P.S. Today I found that I can see cruise ships going up and down the fjord from my window! I was just sitting here and noticed a massive building moving behind the other buildings until I realized it was a cruise ship! How awesome is that!!

Here you can find out everything about Gretchen Rubin, her Happiness Project and the sequels and prequels. Also has some downloads that might or might not be helpful to you.


18th October 2014

So, few days later, here I am on my first visit home. The Tuesday outing was more or less successful, thanks to three gin tonics, two mojitos, two beer and endless cigarettes. Turns out my suspicions about the people I went with were outright right (mildly racist, mildly homophobic, and, surprise surprise, more than mildly sexist). But drinks were comparably cheap, the music was bad but not too bad and with a bit of courage it was easy to meet new people.

I have also found out that my internetlessness is caused by an external problem (the student halls are cut off from the main server or something…) and am pretty much settled in. It will take me yet another week until I will be able to start my lectures and seminars, but hey ho. Only slight obstacle is a nation-wide general strike of train drivers that will put a hold to any attempt of me getting back to uni on Sunday. But hey ho, right?

So, back home also means back online. I have however, so far put off taking this blog viral. The writing itself is the easy part. So far, whenever I found the courage to think “Hey, I’ll start a blog”, I only ever got to the part where you set up all the technical stuff. Suddenly you’re faced with so many options and you have to make so many choices. What do I know what the header should look like? I just want to write a bloody blog. And what about this ridiculous “about me” section? What am I supposed to write there? Infinitely annoying, but I will pull myself together and do it. Now. So that you can actually read this stuff. Makes sense.

P.S. I’m doing my best, people. But again: What do I want my blog title to be?

As you might have noticed: here we are! I made it. So proud of myself. Make sure you read the previous posts so that all of this makes sense. Also, a precautionary “Soz” for any spelling or grammar mistakes.

B x

Online Generation, right?!

13th October 2014

Feeling the urgent desire to start a blog at  time when you have no access to the internet seems like one of those internal paradoxes that we all know. Like a longing for christmas time (*sings* mitstletoe and wine…) that overcomes us just as we are melting in the Spanish sun in mid-August.

During the next few posts (can you even call it that when you’re not actually posting it yet?) I’ll try and explain some of the motivations that may be the source of this sudden calling, but for now maybe a brief summary of my current situation will help you out. As I have previously stated, I am unfortunately offline for now. Not by choice, this must be clear. If you are one of those new-age hipsters, then maybe living without access to the web might be seen as a new way to “reconnect with nature”, and you’ll tell everyone about how freeing the experience has been before returning to your daily reading of GOOP and the like. No, not me. I like the internet. I really do. And the problem doesn’t seem to be the internet itself (but how do people even now, it’s not like you see a rainbow coming out of that pathetic little box on my wall), but rather theWiFi router (is that what it’s called?). Well, I don’t really know. My competence in this area is very limited, as you might have noticed.

Funny story actually, I came to prove my computer skills only about two or three weeks ago when I spilled a glass of coke (and a bit of rum) on my laptop. Clever me, I shut down the laptop, sacrificed a package of rice and left the laptop there for an extended period of time. Great reaction, right? I kept my calm and handled that situation like a motherfucker. Well, initial success confirmed me in this perception of myself (yes, thank you very much); to my very surprise and relief, Truman (and yes, I named my laptop) was up and running. All good and well if there hadn’t been that slight issue with the sound. After a while of me being relieved and Truman being up and running – specifically: showing me an episode of Finding Carter (yes, it’s trashy but, boy, such tension, such drama) -, the sound dropped. It was just gone. A bit later it was back. But it had changed. It was like in Zombieland where Jesse Eisenberg helps his supposedly injured hot neighbour from 7F or so (I’d look it up, but NO INTERNET) and he gets all excited and horny when suddely she turns into a zombie and hell brakes loose. Well, the sound made a similar transformation. From giving no sound (“supposedly injured”) to the voicing of high pitched screeching, screaming sounds (“hell brakes loose”). Again,shut down, keep calm, what next? I came to the conclusion that I’d have to do some open heart surgery. I gathered some tissues (why?!), a tiny little screwdriver and some snacks (soul food), and started unscrewing. All well so far, I finally left it at opening up the laptop, blowing into it a bit and then starting to resemble the whole lot. Here it was a bit tricky, it didn’t seem to close as well as it had opened, but I just screwed away (there might have been some mild force in use, I know, I know…). Again everything was fine (the sound was fixed, hurra!) until the recent rebellion of my router, when I said “fuck WiFi, I’m going LAN” and tried to put he cable into that little plug (naughty!). Didn’t work. How, yous ask? It seems a ricecorn from the aftermath of the rum-and-coke disaster got stuck somewhere inside of Truman and then disfigured my LAN box thingy when I rescrewed the whole thing. A bloody ricecorn. So, yeah.