Sunday Diaries

It’s logical that most of these will probably start with what I was thinking about after I woke up, since lying in bed on a Sunday morning is a luxury I like to enjoy when I have it. A bit of daydreaming, a bit of music, a bit of reading, getting the brain whirring if the spirit so moves you, before you can’t deny that you do have to get up and eat, for breakfast is also a beautiful and wonderful thing.

So I don’t grab, but normally, even gently reach for my phone (dropping it once was enough), that handy purveyor of things entertaining, and scroll a bit on YouTube. Grace Helbig’s review of this year’s celebrity Halloween costumes got me sniggering and put me in a slightly sarcastic state of mind, which lead to typing in some words in the YouTube search bar that had been simmering at the back of said mind. These words were benching dating. This new word for age-old behaviour has apparently been setting both the dating world and the internet ablaze for quite some time now, unfortunately, and we are never too old nor too uncreative to find a label that might take at least some of the sting off those “What the hell?” moments.

One of the first videos that popped up was this snippet from The View upoloaded in June of this year. “Well, it’s kind of poopy, but what are you gonna do,” host Whoopi Goldberg says matter-of-factly. “It’s poopy,” she continues, “Well, I think it’s just a ball of **** to do that to somebody.” I’m neither a fan nor an expert on this particular show, but as usual Whoopi confirmed my hope that as long as I came across this video, she would be the one to say what needed to be said.

Scrolling through a few other videos and remembering the numerous articles I had read on the subject in the past few days, it was both strange to seemingly re-identify a known problem, narrowing down the more general “not calling/ texting/ writing/ dating back” actions somewhat to a description that fit a repeating MO, and saddening to see just how easy it is to set someone on the path of emotional turmoil. Was there a little bit of relief involved at finding some kind of words that seemed to box in what so many were going through? I’m not sure. Whichever way you spin it and however you try to categorize it, it still boils down to mistreatment and disappointment. Both facts of life.

But that was enough for now of letting benching occupy my thoughts on a day as precious as Sunday, so well-scrambled eggs on sliced tomato and bell pepper, with a bit of cheese, as well as toast with jam, followed my musings, nourishing ideas for a possible future blog post.

It’s very easy to give in to staying at home on a Sunday that is a bit grey and automatically makes you think it must be cold out there, but my determination to combat these yearnings today won over. The world is your oyster if you have the right shoes on and cover yourself where you can get cold. Or, in this case, my trusty Alster river walk was once again my oyster. A not new, but re-confirmed piece of wisdom: going outside, moving, breathing, looking, thinking, listening to music, observing, taking pictures and feeling what must only be creative adrenaline of your very own is most often the right decision. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were still plenty of autumn colors to snap and fill my Instagram with, and no matter how many times I have been here, the area just keeps surprising me. Venturing in to the side streets you see along the way is a good way to branch out, and I think how much there is still left of this city to discover. It’s a comforting thought. Damp, dark, sometimes moss-covered tree trunks frame turn-of-the-century villas and yellow leaves flutter against the almost white sky.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This local blend of urban, historic and nature provides a lot of joy for kindred souls I spot along the way, silently strolling along with headphones on, like me, giving each other a glance sometimes and what I like to think is a small, secret smile of acknowledgement. Walking to the soundtrack of your choosing is a film-esque experience right there, especially for a person with a quickly romantic imagination, and spotting a house that immediately makes you think of Pemberley (even if it does look different, but I can’t travel to England right this second, so let’s make the best of the already wonderful things we have) makes you tingle.

Bumping in to a friend out on her jog was a pleasant surprise. After some chatting I watch her run on with light, energetic movements, and feel suddenly happy, hopeful that we, or at least those I know, are all doing something today that is making us content, peaceful and just what we want to be in this moment.

And why would anyone want to know or read all of this, you might ask? Well, isn’t that the reason why we blog?

Advertisements

How to be a Cool Wedding Guest

DO

  1. Remember that the bride is the most beautiful, fantastic, breath-taking creature you will see at a wedding. Period. Be sure to get a good look at her as she enters and to tell her later just how beautiful, fantastic, breath-taking she is. It’s a truth universally acknowledged.
  2. Take a look at the groom’s face as his beautiful, fantastic, breath-taking bride approaches.
  3. Be in the moment and enjoy all the carefully prepared parts of the festivities. Sniff the flower arrangements, admire the church or the city hall, compliment friends or even women you don’t know on outfits you admire (but not in a creepy way) and smile around.
  4. Say yes when the married couple asks you to join in opening the dance floor.
  5. Be sure to convey heartfelt thanks to them for the lovely occasion that’s filling your heart and for taking such good care of their guests, whether in person or in a message. An enormous amount of work goes in to preparing a wedding, and a large part of it rests on the bride and groom’s shoulders.

DON’T

  1. Lose your cool if something is unclear or temporarily goes wrong.
  2. Forget to say hello or something nice to the best man and maid of honour.
  3. Diss or criticize. It’s not your place to do so, it’s uncalled for and it’s plain rude. It won’t be appreciated by anyone even if something is not up to your standards. I went to a wedding a few years ago and was surprised to hear a group of people at the next table heatedly axing the reception arrangements. Just no!
  4. Freak out if your pantyhose rips, there’s a huge bruise on the back of your leg and your dress is cocktail length, you lose your lipstick etc. Everyone will be looking at the bride!
  5. Underestimate the combination of comfortable in addition to pretty when picking your shoes.

A cool wedding guest (suitably sized) clutch or small handbag includes:

A packet of tissues

A packet of cleaning swipes

Band-Aids

Hairpins

Rubber bands

A pocket mirror

Lip-balm, tinted if you like

Gum

Enough cash for a cab to take you back home

A credit or ATM card

A fully charged phone

All set!

Confessions of a Clueless Football Viewer, Part 3

A few years ago, and I can’t remember whether it was the Euro or World Cup, the German national team suddenly caught my eye. Something just clicked. Alongside a few more seasoned star players like Bastian Schweinsteiger (nothing can beat him) or Lukas Podolski (that impish grin) a new line-up of talented footballers, each already boasting his own successful career, was making their mark for Germany. The other intriguing point was that this new team included players with international roots who all worked hard and worked well, driven by the obvious iron-willed discipline of national trainer Joachim Löw. The diversity of the team was actively stressed by Germany, and I must say I am convinced. Modern, fresh, talented and almost always impressive whenever they entered the pitch, this was the team that made me realize clueless viewing didn’t exclude passionate viewing.

But all these feelings paled in comparison to what I experienced when I saw Manuel Neuer, Germany’s keeper, make his first save. Sure, the team is great, and it’s exciting to see them in action. But Manuel Neuer… well, let’s simply say I just can’t even.

And so this past Sunday arrived, with Germany playing its first Euro 2016 match against Ukraine. There he was, my hero, looking fresh as a daisy and clearly raring to go, his new appointment as team captain almost visibly bouncing of his still clean uniform. Within minutes his razor-sharp reflexes were demonstrated as he made a breath-taking, clean-cut save for Germany, and I could hear not only the German supporters in the stadium, but also the whole internet going wild. “A world-class act!” the German commentator was practically shouting. Let’s just watch this again, and again.

He can reach anything, jump anywhere and if we have him, everything will be alright, because he just wants to play.

And not to forget Jerome Boateng’s incredible defence (because no keeper is an island, at least not forever). If the internet was screaming after Neuer’s first save, it was in uncontrollable hysterics after this one.

If my hero did need some help, it couldn’t have been done any other way than how Jerome Boateng did it. World-class deserves world-class in return. And maybe Neuer would have made it on his own, but hey, what are teammates for?

Last, but not least, of the many truly cool moments this clueless viewer was impressed by along with everyone else wathcing, two words: Bastian Schweinsteiger. The midfielder replaced Mario Götze and did what the latter could not in a matter of minutes.

A special triumph in view of his injuries and uncertainty surrounding his participation in the Euro 2016.

While still clueless, I’m pretty sure this is what good football looks like.

 

 

 

Confessions of a Clueless Football Viewer, Part 2

This football, I like it, another! To rephrase Thor a little bit.

England and Russia played against each other on Saturday and having Russian roots I thought, hey, why not. No clue about the Russian national football team, no prior research, not even a glimmer of a name, and my knowledge level about England’s team wasn’t much better – the only player I recognized was Wayne Rooney, and all I could come up with additionally was the oft-repeated comparison on his facial similarity with a certain beloved animated character. Oh, well, I never said I could do much.

Thus with basically an absense of feelings except curiousity on how this whole game would go I sat down to watch the match taking place in Marseille. I did predict the colours of the Russian team’s uniform’s correctly. Yay. Of course they were going to be red, vot do you mean.

I was just thinking this match was somewhat boring beyond the fact that my cluelessness already glaringly signifies the possibility of boredom, when suddenly England’s Eric Dier scored the first goal. Yes, goals are always sudden, that’s the thing that sets them apart, I know. The goal was half the fun, though, ultimately leading to the best part of the whole game as a screaming bunch of running players went nuts and failed to brake around this poor photographer.

He took it well, though. But Russia was not to be completely outdone, making jaws drop all over the stadium as they scored a (sudden) goal of their own during the three minutes after play. The look on Vasili Berezutski’s face as he demonstrated the usual victorious displays of emotion following his hit can only be described as “I AM BEAR.”

Despite the 1:1 tie, an amusing little summary of what is possibly one of the baselines of each national mentality emerges: England was “dejected”, according to multiple headlines in the media, while Russia acted like a winner.

It was impossible to ignore the staggering amount of violence taking place in the streets of Marseille as English and Russian football hooligans attacked each other in a seemingly endless frenzy of determined aggression. With widespread ugly incidents also taking place right in the stands of the stadium after the match ended, media, fans and locals alike are appalled. The acceleration level is dizzying and it is once again horrifying to see a sports environment or occasion abused purely for the purpose of destruction.

With the security concerns this year’s Euro brings, it is especially sad, and absolutely disgusting, to see this senseless violence happening, and one is particularly sorry for real fans who would never commit such a crime, not to mention the already overstretched law enforcement involved with keeping match locations safe and locals who must feel as if they are suddenly under siege in their own city.

 

Confessions of a Clueless Football Viewer, Part 1

The UEFA Euro 2016 has begun and after (somewhat unexpectedly) viewing a few of these in recent years, I can once again predict some of the things that are going to happen in the coming four weeks.

I will watch a few games and surprise myself anew that I actually do this, because if ever there was a person well versed in one-dimensional, non-technical sports viewing, it’s me. Fan accessories in the colours of the German flag, from wigs to flags to sunglasses to face paint, will spill from most of the supermarkets and drugstores one passes in town, and I will remember the paint stick a colleague made me throw away after a news report about a bad batch being produced.

Most of us will watch the matches with Germany, though we might forego Hamburg’s largest public viewing spot at the Heiligengeistfeld with its 50,000 football fans.

I will not be able to comment on any technical parts of the matches and keep silent as the tangle of both English and German football terms (Abseits! Torschuss!) becomes ever more confusing in my head.

It’s all good.

I found myself watching the opening match between France and Romania of my own accord, partly also because of the game taking place in the Saint-Denis district of Paris, with sad memories of the November 2015 terrorist attacks and subsequent raids in the area being expanded by current security concerns. There is no light-hearted viewing this year, as clueless as I may be sports-wise. But there is an ongoing wish to enjoy what this championship is supposed to be about – seeing the best at their game, international sportsmanship and excitement about a big event being followed all over Europe.

France won against Romania 2:1, with the host country’s team possibly being surprised by the agility of their opponent. With my notorious ability to get teams mixed up I was thankful the French players were wearing blue and the Romanian ones yellow. I always think while I watch and as my attention inevitably starts to wander that so many people are seeing so much more in the game than I am, that other viewers have football layers and I don’t, but this does nothing to dampen my enjoyment, or, better said, amusement.

But here’s a question. After seeing France’s Olivier Giroud in a better close-up after he scored the team’s first goal against Romania (kudos), I do have to wonder: isn’t a full beard even more uncomfortable during a match than long hair? Unless it absorbs all the sweat pouring down the footballer’s face?

giroudIs the hipster making his way in to football? I can just imagine the look a more experienced viewer would give me, a mixture of incredulity and mild disgust on his face, as he would say to me, but nicely, being a friend, “I wasn’t looking at his beard, I was watching him score the goal.”

And is it just me, or are there way more tattoo sleeves visible among players? Not that anyone can really beat Germany’s Marco Reus tattoing his own name and birth year on his arm. That’s the way!

I really do think I come up with queries that hardly anyone would consider otherwise.

Prom Memories

A recent dinner conversation included reminiscing about favourite teenage flicks from the 90s and early 2000s, most of which included – surprise, surprise – a (usually USA-based) prom (situation). And with prom season fast approaching, I went down memory lane.

I don’t know how many times I watched She’s All That as my own prom approached, on VHS – the nostalgia! This scene in particular enjoyed some rewinding:

Then there was this here whimsical thing – the first time I had heard Kirsten Dunst sing was in Get Over It.

And, of course, Miss Congeniality. Even if it didn’t contain a prom scene and was about adults, not teens, it was very funny and had plenty of scene-stealing moments from Sandra Bullock that were more than adaptable to the excited prom mindset.

My own prom wasn’t a glittering, disco-light-soaked affair like in the movies above, and a memorable musical number wasn’t included either. In fact, the best part was going up on stage during the official part and having my family watch me get my diploma, and then joyfully leaving to celebrate elsewhere after seeing that the dancefloor in the school canteen had quickly become a mass of drunk teenagers and parents. I think I was fortunate to have an inkling that this was not the gateway to the rest of my life, but that my life was already happening. Despite the mild disappointment of not dancing the night away in a haze of youthful laughter and confetti, I knew this was not the last party ever. So I just amped up the positivity and focused on the not unimportant event of graduating.

There will indeed be other parties – student parties, friend parties, wedding parties, summer parties, birthday parties, family parties, work parties, all of them different and educational in their own unique ways. The glories of adulthood and not being a minor will also ensure an independent and rounded partying experience. And psst, despite what some people may repeat to you, there is no age limit to this. Don’t listen to the party poopers.

 

 

When Blocked Creatively

When I think about this, I always remember a radio interview with J.K. Rowling from quite a few years back now. She describes staring at a blank piece of paper and not being able to write after the tabloid press had riffled through her past and published the results. She said she had a very strong compulsion to write, it was something over which she had very little control and which she wanted to do a lot. The words were simple, but the pain behind them was palpable. This was the real thing.

Of course, whatever is causing blockage or a drained feeling doesn’t have to be big in scope or a harrowing experience, nor does it deserve any less attention, regardless of what puts you on pause when you don’t want to be. But it does help to step back and examine, if it’s because of this and that, is it really as bad as I think, and is it worth not doing what I want to do because of it?

We all have different ways of dealing with this – here’s what helps me.

legally blonde

Sleep

This applies especially if you are trying to start or finish something in the evening and it just won’t come together. There may be a very simple explanation – you are tired! So go to bed. Chances are you will wake up early and refreshed the next morning, and as a result what you wanted to do will turn out faster and better than if you tried to force yourself the night before. Particularly if you are getting something done before you go to your day job. Of course, sometimes we have to grit our teeth and work a longer evening or even night on a creative endevour, because we don’t have a choice, for whatever reasons. But if you do, give yourself that break. And if you are inspired and on a roll, well, great!

Distance

This can be executed in many ways. Sometimes all you need is to get away from the laptop, sit down, close your eyes and breathe through your nose. Things become clearer and it’s easier to pinpoint what was causing the wobbliness. Getting some chores out of the way might also be helpful, even if you tend to procrastinate on those in the name of art (no, that’s never happened to me, pah!). It’s so much pleasanter to sit down to whatever you’re dying to do when the laundry is finished. Nobody cancelled the fact that you do not want to live in a hovel. And one of the easiest ways to get some distance is to go for a walk. A two-week trip to the Canary Islands might be pushing it a bit far, but hey, if it helps and you can swing it financially, why not. Anyway, do go outside.

Attention

For me this is simply listening to yourself and doing some tougher self-exploration if necessary. Something is bugging you or you feel frustration that is distracting you from the project at hand. What is it? What do you keep coming back to in your mind? Is it a bigger problem, or a smaller incident that happened earlier? Can you do anything about it? If yes, do you need or want to do that right now? If not, let go, at least for the time you wanted to allot to your project.

Exercise

Yup.

Communication

Write it out in a journal, meet up with a friend who understands, talk to your Grandma if she loves hearing about your progress, watch interviews on YouTube with writers, artists, performers you admire about how they work and deal with the hardships. You might hear something helpful.

Pep

Some positivity goes a long way. Take a break and do something that stimulates you and where you feel your best, whether it’s a favourite activity, a building you like to look at, listening to cheesy mood-boosting songs from your youth or reading a book in the park. These favourite things might also be the key to some inspirational ideas already.

Discipline

All of the above is good, but it all comes down to the fact that we have to buckle down and just do it if we want to accomplish something. That’s all there is to it. I read an article recently about showing as much commitment to your creative projects as to your day job, for those of us who are in that situation, and I completely agree. This doesn’t mean getting up as early during the weekend or spending an 8-hour day on things in addition to the five you already do, but if you want it, you have to make your own personal job of it. Nitty-gritty life wisdom I sincerely hope I can follow myself.

nikeOf course, we are all only human, after all. I like to remember this here saying from the great and powerful Internet: “If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Stay cool!”