Parrots and Hipsterhood

In my opinion we should not try and describe everything with words. At university especially the scholars tend to ruin great works of literature and pieces of art by interpreting and analyzing them. On the other hand, we normal people often only recognize such great works only if they have been loaded with meaning and cultural significance.

So, yes, today’s shared item is by one of the great artists that we recognize as sch immediately, and no, I probably would not know this painting if it wasn’t as widely known. But it feeling something close to guilt about liking something that many others also like is one of those absurdities of modern day pop culture and although I know that it has affected my behaviour so much that it scares me (the other day I found myself justifying myself for liking a song that they have been playing on the radio frequently for the past year…), I will break with this today just for once and declare what my favourite painting is without having to explain myself or making excuses.

This is it (I love especially the cheeky cigarette): Frida Kahlo’s ‘Yo Y Mis Pericos’

What is your favourite painting or “guilty” pleasure?

B x

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Christmas, Poetry And A Teary Me

Many of you will be celebrating Christmas today or will at least be enjoying the holiday and the free time that comes with it. And as I really don’t want you guys sitting in front of the screen all day (read! eat! spend time with your family! maybe even sing?), this will be my shortest post to date (well, we’ll see about that…).

It also contains my present to you! A poem! YAY (at least this should be your reaction)! I know that people have very different opinions on poetry, but I think it’s like music: you’ll like some, some not, and it is entirely up to you what kind of role it plays in your life. For example, although I do appreciate it, personally I do not read poetry on a regular basis because it makes me feel melancholy and often it makes me cry. Not in a bad way, but it does include tears rolling down my cheeks. Which is a tiny bit annoying, especially if you’re on the bus or in a cafe. But whenever I feel melancholy anyways and I seek the sensation of drops of salty water crisscrossing my face, I grab a book and read some poems (Spanish poetry especially cracks me up, can’t say why).

I stumbled upon this poem randomly (it was featured as the Guardian poem of the week, you can read more about it here) and I liked it. Also it didn’t make me feel too teary.

Louise Glück

A Work of Fiction

As I turned over the last page, after many nights, a wave of sorrow envel-
oped me. Where had they all gone, these people who had seemed so real?
To distract myself, I walked out into the night; instinctively, I lit a cigarette.
In the dark, the cigarette glowed, like a fire lit by a survivor. But who would
see this light, this small dot among the infinite stars? I stood a while in the
dark, the cigarette glowing and growing small, each breath patiently de-
stroying me. How small it was, how brief. Brief, brief, but inside me now,
which the stars could never be.

Hope you like it too, and Merry Christmas and all that!

B x

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire…

So, here we go: Appropriate to the time of the year and the music currently playing on the radio, I’ve chosen to share with you some festive tunes, that can serve you as an alternative to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” on a loop during the next few days. This is the best Christmas album I have come across so far and it is excellent. You know how you have to be in a certain kind of state to enjoy the Sinatra Christmas classics and the new auto-tuned, dolled up versions they play on the radio get old pretty quickly (plus, they all sound the same!), this album is the answer.

It is such a nice, laid back, but still merry collection of some of the best classic tunes: They do a smashing cover of Madonna’s “Santa Baby”, and have included everything from “Baby It’s Cold Outside” to “Silent Night”. My personal favourite is track number seven, but please, please listen for yourself and make up your own mind.

You can download the whole album here, and another great thing is that there is no set price!! This means you can literally pay what ever you think is appropriate and if you’re too broke (or too stingy, no judgement..), just put “0”. Hint hint: This also makes a great present.

Wild Child – Christmas Mixtape, Volume 1

 

Mirroring Resolutions, Things I Like And Blogging Over Christmas

My Happiness Project is only about a week old, and yet somehow I have managed to fail every one of my resolutions at least once. I’ve completed the circle yesterday when I broke my promise to blog daily by – you’ve guessed it – not blogging. Oh well. This was pretty much predictable. It’s not like this hurts anyone. But if you’ve thought that I can be distracted from my ambitions this quickly, you’re wrong: I’ll make all of this work somehow.

A major helper is an aspect of wordpress.com that I only discovered today (I’m new, okay, cut me some slag!): Scheduling posts. This simple feature will go a long way for me trying to keep my promises to myself. I can simply write posts in advance. Especially at this time of year this is extremely useful: Now that I’m at home over Christmas, I don’t have the time to write daily and it will probably be that way until the 6th or 7th of January, when I return to university.

So what I have thought of was this: For this time, I will have two feature categories supplying you with posts. The first one is related to my Happiness Project.  As you might know from this post, I have come up with seven aims of my own. However, as I was reading Rubin’s book, I constantly felt that I should make a not, that I might be missing something essential, like the resolutions that could bring me happiness were just slipping through my fingers (like the ABBA song but in a different context). So I’ve gone back through her aims and resolutions (there are so many!) and I’ve chosen seven that also make sense for me to adapt. Of course, that means that I now have 14 resolutions to think about and keep track of, so I’ll have to make a new track sheet… Which I’ll do right after writing this post, I promise.

That’s that. But if you’re a careful reader you’ll recall that I was talking about two new categories, and indeed I was. The second one is remotely connected to the idea of Christmas. I am not religious, but I love Christmas. What I like most is the idea of sharing. You share your precious time with the other members of your family, no matter how annoying they might be. You share presents of course, and loads of food. This is also the time of year when many people that are otherwise absorbed in their own worries remember to share with those who aren’t as lucky as they are. I don’t have a lot of money to give to charities and I don’t cook very well, but giving presents is a passion of mine. I love to share things that I love. And this is going to be the second category: Me sharing things with you, whoever you might be.

There we are: Enjoy the posts, Merry Christmas, and I’ll return to live-blogging at the beginning of the next year!

B x

Death by Exercise

Today I did an incredibly stupid thing. I went to the gym to do an aerobics class. That is the worst decision I made since signing that gym membership (which easily classifies as the worst choice of the year 2014).

Let me tell you why: I despise exercise, and aerobics is the worst possible kind. I hate everything about it. I hate the sweating, the way you are on constantly on display and the horrible pump up music. Oh, and why do there have to be mirrors everywhere? Apart from this general dislike, I am also astonishingly bad at it. My coordination is a disaster in itself.  Even with that walking on one spot that they always do in the beginning I get confused, but as soon as I’m meant to do this with my legs in that direction and that with my arms in this direction, I am completely and utterly lost. Sports in general just tend to make me less attractive: I sweat like crazy and my face, neck and chest adopt a colour that can only be described as ‘cholesterol magenta’ (not my word, science’s – okay, I may not have the copyright for both these last phrases). Not to forget, I also feel physically sick as a result of exercising. These delightful side effects, in case you were wondering, aren’t just a brief sensation. They (the sweat, the magenta, the sickness)just remain calmly in place for the next two to three hours after exercising. How is it possible that half an hour of aerobics leaves me in a worse shape than six shots of tequila?? It is literally my personal incarnation of hell (not sure this metaphor holds up in its full religious context) .

And though I am generally aware of this, I sometimes feel guilt creeping in. For having paid the gym membership without ever going. And for not being one of those people who enjoy movement in general. I would really really like to be someone like that. I’d join a beach volleyball team, I’d go for a run three times a week in fancy running gear, my ponytail swinging from side to side (also, I’d ace games like beer pong and flunky ball*). Anyway, I’m really not that kind of person. I most likely never will be. Also, why should I spend time doing something that makes me feel this miserable? Realizing this gave me the courage to just walk out of there (after dutifully putting back the stepper, the mat, and the various weights and thanking the overly enthusiastic but super lovely instructor, of course). I still feel a tiny bit miserable though. For once, the three hours that my body requires to make my complexions go from the colour of an overripe strawberry to a general face tone aren’t over, and also I know that the desire to be “one of those people” will probably return at least twice annually in the next few years. Who knows, maybe one of those times I’ll realise that Pilates totally is my thing and all this trying will finally be rewarded. Even if not, at least I don’t have to feel guilty about not trying for the time being.

Please, if you have had any related experiences or feelings, do share that in the comments. I could really need some kindred spirits.

B x

*very popular drinking game in Germany, major bonding experience at any festival. Click here to read very amusingly (and accurately) illustrated instructions on how to play it by an American studying in Germany

Good lecturers, bad lecturers…

So, yes, it’s been a while. The internet has been mostly working for the past month, and it seems I am way more compelled to contribute to this blog when forcibly offline.

Anyways, it’s time for an update. Looking back, it seems funny how excited I was for courses to start. I signed up for the whole lot of lectures and seminars and vowed to go to all tutorials as well. For the first two weeks I did it. Attended every event on my self-enforced timetable.

Things are a bit different today. I dropped out of all of my lectures and most of my seminars. And, believe it or not, this is a good thing. Why would I attend a boring lecture if I don’t want to? Clearly, my chances of learning something are inversely proportional to how much I dread getting up in the morning. But there are some seminars left over. Also a very good thing.

My beginners’ Danish course, for example, is a delight. Yes, there are the irregular words, there’s the pronunciation that continues to puzzle me. But it is heaps of fun and very rewarding. As always, this is largely due to my Danish teacher, who is amazing. It is refreshing how personally engaged she is and how proud our progress makes her. And I myself love that after only two months of learning the language I was able to watch a film entirely in Danish (also organised by that lovely teacher, outside of our lessons, in her own free time) and I managed to follow the plot!

The other seminars I still go to include academic writing, an introduction into Spanish Literature (although these are both quite dull, but academic writing might actually prove useful someday and if I dropped out of Spanish Lit, I would have dropped out of Spanish entirely…), an introduction to Scandinavian Medieval Studies and a presentation skills workshop.

That last one is the other delight of my week. It is the only seminar I have in English and it’s very much an interactive course. We are only five participants, which makes it really cozy and personal and the teacher is a lovely lady that provides biscuits and tea and coffee. Yet again, she is probably the cause that I find this workshop as enjoyable as I do. With a background in acting and teaching English she’s just lovely and cares for each and every one of us.

Well, that’s enough from me for now, I have some festive spirit to generate (I find writing cards, buying presents, mulled wine and Frank Sinatra very helpful in getting me in the right Christmas mood) and a risotto to cook (yes, that phase isn’t over yet).

B x