Things That Still Happen When You Are an Adult (But Are Easier to Deal with Now)

Tripping in public.

During a conversation things are coming out of your mouth that make you feel surprised as you hear them. Cue the (equally) strange behaviour and (somewhat offensive) departure of the other party. OK, so we obviously can’t be weird together, and I will laugh about it later. Because I am an adult.

It’s easier to steer your emotions now. As a result it is easier to have outbursts about things that aren’t really worth having an outburst about, like people shaking off their wet umbrellas directly in the vicinity of your new shoes or the delivery guy leaving your package with a neighbor who’s never home when you are.

Not knowing what to do and knowing that you will need to do something to know.

Unflattering or plain bad outfit choices. Most times it’s just overthinking, though. Or creativity. Don’t be hard on yourself, just reconsider the whole neon is back thing.

Objects breaking. You’re an adult, you can hopefully buy another one or throw a dinner party.

Own it!

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About Apologies

I was chatting to a guy friend about a party I had been to. At the back of my mind a vague tense expectation was building up. And sure enough, like a few times before, in response to my story, he asked a joking question with a reference to my heritage. “You’re at it again with your jokes!” I exploded. “What, not good?” he asked, clearly surprised, but with a twinkle. “Listen, I know you don’t mean anything by it, but these aren’t funny to me anymore, OK?” “OK, OK.”

I was both fuming and concentrating on not taking the experience home with me. Maybe I had tried one too many times to laugh it off, politely say I didn’t share the joke, answer seriously, change the subject or turn the joke back on him. Coming up with tactics was becoming a little tiring. As it happens in these cases, there came a point when my cup was simply full and it overflowed.

For some reason I was expecting a verbal apology the next time we met or some kind of use of the word ‘sorry’. I actually imagined short speeches or messages in my mind that would start with “I thought about what I said/ my behaviour/ those silly jokes” etc. I imagined myself listening and saying elegantly, but firmly, “I appreciate you saying that. Just don’t do it again.” But nothing of the kind happened.

Instead, there was the usual friendly hello when we ran in to each other soon after, and over the course of a workday a message with a link to a funny, well-made video about an artist I like, with the simple “For you” accompanying it. Only someone who remembered what I talked about would have sent me that.

I think that was the apology, in another way than I expected. No sarcasm, no undertones, just cheerful reaching out. And there have been no more jokes of the kind that I asked not to make.

The whole episode got me thinking about men and women’s perceptions and executions of apologies. I’ve so far had a lifelong and deep relationship with saying sorry. It’s something I used to do a little too much. I also say thank you a lot, so maybe I was just British in my past life. Over the years I’ve gotten a handle on the over-apologizing, limiting myself to doing it for real if I have to, with a controlled sprinkling of the politeness sorries and the worrywart sorries. The latter thankfully happens among people who know me well.

Verbalizing a sincere apology for something that I feel needs to be addressed is for me a brave thing to do. It shows that the person cares about your feelings and wants you to know about it. Also, openly acknowledging you did wrong is mature.

Be that as it may, in life you sometimes look for things a little longer, because they happen differently than the trajectory you mapped out. And I’ve noticed that most of my girlfriends and I felt the need to apologize to each other in words (whether spoken or written) after unexpected miscommunications, near fights or more sarcasm than usual. “I didn’t mean to sound like I was putting you down and I’m worried I did”, “That was a really silly thing to say, I don’t know what got it to me”, “I hope I wasn’t too abrupt”. I don’t think I would have stayed angry, when the incidents producing these apologies had to do with me, but I always appreciate the gesture.

With guys, though, the occasional frustration from me would lead to them metaphorically hiding with their tails between their legs as if they had just gotten a “Bad dog!” shouted at them. Then one of two things would happen. Either we would cross paths and I would say hi, and they would say hi back with visible relief. Or they would make a friendly overture, not addressing the thing that had gotten me mad in the first place, but not repeating the offence. And the latter is what makes all the difference, really.

Onece I myself apologized to a colleague at one of my first internships. We had worked well together for a long time. During a meeting I was irritated by something he said to me and before I thought about it, I shot back with what I later felt to be an unnecessarily sarcastic statement. When I told him this the next day, he said, “I don’t feel like you spoke out of turn, and in any case I respect you and your opinion too much for that.” I was both surprised and touched. He acted on his words all through the remainder of my internship.

Of course apologies and their reception are closely connected to the magnitude of the situations that cause them. Sometimes you do have to actually say sorry. The type of relationship you have with a person is also a prominent contributing factor regarding apologies. If someone is continuing to hurt you without anything changing, regardless of whether they apologize for it or not, you might think about whether you want this person in your life.

But actions do sometimes speak louder than words. So regarding the everyday bumps and bruises, I’ll take the ‘sorry’ and the hug from a girlfriend, and laugh over the perfectly chosen funny video from the guy.

 

Hamburg Parks: Planten un Blomen

New York has its ‘green lungs’ in Central Park. Hamburg has its ‘green heart’ in Planten un Blomen. The park’s history dates back to the 17th century, though at that time there was no park, but defensive walls surrounding the former center of the city. Since then the grounds have become a beautiful retreat easily reachable within the city, a mecca for those who love to take walks and discover another place for sitting down with a book underneath a tree. Or just wander around, enjoying one of these views.

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I Love a Print Dress Because…

It’s an immediate mood booster. Prints are fun and an easy way to add pep to an outfit choice, especially with a dress – slip it over your head and you’re done.

You can wear them both in the summer and in colder weather. Add a cardigan that picks up on one of the colours of your print (black and navy blue also work in most cases), some tights or leggings and voilà – no additional shopping required.

If you’re not sure about accessories, the aforementioned matching up or successfully contrasting with one of the colours of your print is a good solution, or simply stick with some minimalist earrings – the dress will do the rest.

So say yes to the dress and check out the styling example in this friendly video by one of ASOS’ stylists:

Or in this slightly older, but still current video by The Outnet.com (also good tips if you’re wearing the dress on a night out):

Eating in Hamburg: Café Strauss

Café Strauss was suggested by a friend. Off we went after work. Located not far from the Osterstraße, one of Hamburg’s oldest, liveliest and prettiest streets, it’s an immediately welcoming sight.

Despite being close to a street that’s one of the cities main traffic arteries with heavily frequented bus stops and subway stations, Café Strauss is surrounded by tranquility and green trees.

Walking through an arched entrance, you first cross a pleasantly spacious courtyard I would love to try out in the summertime. Tables were still standing there, shining in the autumnal downpour. That’s Hamburg for you – maybe we’ll have just one more warm day before winter.

However, inside was just as comfortable, with guests obviously enjoying themselves. Understated, but harmonious interior in dark red, wood, candles and coloured lamps.

I hadn’t thought much about the Café’s name, Strauss, but once there my friend pointed out the small drawings of ostriches next to some of the dishes listed. “Is that really ostrich meat?” I asked our friendly waitress a shade too loudly. “That is reall Straußenfleisch,” she replied calmly.

My friend was bold enough to order something with ostrich. I am too firmly anchored in my (for me) traditional meat preferences, but maybe next time.

However, my order proved to be immensely satisfying. A baked potato or Ofenkartoffel, piled with a very generous helping of smoked salmon and accompanied by the usual sour cream, and a light green salad. To drink – local apple cider (in a Guinness glass. Sure, why not).

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I’m not a food critic, but if it tastes good, doesn’t make my stomach feel heavy and is altogether and inspiring discovery, then the place gets a gold star.

Happily there was room for dessert, so as instructed I went in search of the cake display. “Those are the remains from today,” said one waiter somewhat dismissively. The various “remains” were enough to make up a whole multicoloured creation, and I selected this lovely slice of raspberry curd cake.

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I will come again, even if deciding about the ostrich will probably take a while. But the other cakes require testing.

Some of My Favourite Things

Besides “raindrops on roses”, of course.

Warm toast with anything you choose to put on it. It’s one of the fastest comfort foods I know, and it never fails to make me feel content. Having toast or sandwich bread in your cupboard is a sure-fire solution for those evenings when the supermarke is already closed. Toast makes scooping out the last contents of your Nutella jar more fun and the last slice of cheese goes from blah to bam. Also, toast with mayonnaise and tomato is one of the most fantastic things on Earth – something I got hooked on after reading Harriet the Spy (though I’m not sure her sandwiches included toast).

toasterAn apartment filled with sunlight.

Knowing that I still have enough left of an enjoyable book and still reading quickly to get to the end…and ready it again, because I love re-reading.

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There isn’t a question that Google hasn’t been asked and typing that makes me remember this sketch by CollegeHumor:

There’s a wonderful website called Visual Statements, which is an online haven for lovers of words, slogans, life truths and humour. They also have a shop where you can get STACKS of postcards with their statements, or cute ear studs with tiny print.

It’s the small joys.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Hermione Granger

I’m slightly late with this, but then what are belated birthday wishes for? And I join the Pottersphere in saying Happy Birthday to a heroine beloved by myself and many others – Hermione Granger!

September is proving to be a particularly enjoyable month for Potter fans, as J.K. Rowling has yet again tweeted about an important date in the life of a cherished Potter character. Hermione’s birthday was on September 19th.

I too am looking up my favourite gifs and Youtube videos of one of the smartest witches around. But in terms of my own tribute to Hermione I reminiscently turn to the books and remember why I like this character.

While Hermione’s smarts and intellectual abilities are justifiably admirable, she has a host of other qualities that make her very real to readers. Beneath her initial briskness she is a kind person, which is obvious from an early age. In her first year she is the only one to jump up and free Neville Longbottom from the full body-bind curse while the rest of the Gryffindors laugh (although later in the same book she herself puts it on Neville. Oh, well. Happens!)

She is an extremely hard worker and wants to get as much as possible out of her years at Hogwarts, without forgetting her values or trying to throw other people over. Hermione is constantly conscious of her fantastic opportunities and she invests her energy accordingly. Not without mishaps – see the Time Turner experiment in book three.

She shows her feelings, be it crying after Ron first called her a “nightmare” (which ultimately lead to him and Harry saving her from a mountain troll, and subsequently friendship and love for life), shouting at Ron after the Yule Ball or being visibly frustrated when Harry is suddenly and suspiciously better at a class than she is.

After both normal teenage experiences and the final, epic journey to destroy Lord Voldemort, it’s clear to see that Hermione’s inborn sense of loyalty, developed emotional maturity and courage blend together with her own unique intelligence.

Wingardium Leviosa, Hermione, and Happy Birthday!