So Busy

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days

When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Stressed Out by 21 Pilots

During one of my jobs I had to sit down with a colleague to discuss a project we had been working on together. I had made careful notes in preparation for our meeting, while handling other tasks and calculating how much longer I would have to work that day to make up for having to leave earlier later in the week. At the same time I might have made a to-do-list for my after-work grocery shopping and worried about a friend who was not doing well.

As I I walked together with my co-worker to our conference room and politely asked how he was doing, he replied with a frustrated sigh, “Oh, it’s been crazy, I’ve just been so busy, just this constant load of things to do. I’m so stressed, I barely have any time.” He looked disgusted, as if someone was personally inconveniencing him. OK, the fact that I already knew him to be not the most reliable colleague and disregarding of efforts made by others contributed to the lightning-speed reaction in my head. What I thought was, Buddy, I’ve been here twice as long as you, and you think I’m NOT busy? Or anyone else?

Maybe it’s all in the wording. Maybe we react stronger to those who repeat something like the above, while not asking us how we are doing. Maybe both my natural state of positivity and my desire to maintain it drives me to say, I need to finish some things first, but I could get back to you * insert suggestion here *.

I have seen this time and time again, both in the workplace and outside of it, people who visibly do not trouble themselves or rush to exhibit involvement, committment, dedication, discipline, who cancel plans at a moment’s notice or simply don’t show up. They are surprisingly eloquent and clear as soon as they start talking about being “stressed”, while those at their desks rarely do. Why? Simple! One group has time to talk and the other doesn’t.

We all feel stressed or tired, we all share about it. We’re all busy most of the time. Sometimes you do have a hard day and end up talking only about your own experience. But the way it seems to work normally is saying, Wow, I’m just so wiped out from today, thanks for understanding, or I did this and that and now this, I just want to put my feet up, have a nice evening. Because the truth is, most of us are regularly stressed, tired or busy. There are rare exceptions, but I can’t think of any. It’s just the way life is, and the broader issue is how to deal with it and make sure you’re alright in the process.

I also think it’s pretty galling for people with less experience and a poor track record, in any context, to confidently tell someone on the opposite end of the spectrum about the tough time they are having. . .dealing with a sudden busy day, especially when half of what they are supposed to do ends up not being done. Again.

Whenever these encounters happen, I always come back to the same passage in one of Mindy Kaling’s books.

“. . . I do not think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation, in public anyway. No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out. Going on and on in detail about how stressed out I am isn’t conversation. It’ll never lead anywhere. No one is going to say, “Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.I don’t believe anyone will ever give me a cake just like that, so I will simply bake my own.

As soon as I stop being so damn busy.


Sunday Diaries: Brunch Time

McDonald’s in Italy now has a Nutella burger on their menu. That was the first thing I saw in my Instagram feed when I scrolled through it on my phone as usual on Sunday mornings. I just want to ask, why go pay for something you can make just as easily at home, probably spend less money on and which simply seems…weird? I mean, a burger is not something I will always make myself, so I might go somewhere for it, but spreading Nutella on bread has not gone up astronomically in terms of levels of difficulty, I hope, unless I missed something. But hey, marketing, competition, whatever works and if it does make someone happy.

I spread some (non burger patty thick) Nutella on a warm, crisp bread bun myself today and it was deeply satisfying. Due to watching Crazy, Stupid, Love (and some of it was indeed stupid, though some was love because of Steve Carell and Julianne Moore) until late last night, getting up occured somewhat later and I did not have time for what I term as the breakfast before breakfast – eating a bite before getting to your late breakfast or brunch date so you won’t faint on the way. But then a glass of juice must be included and since the café wasn’t far away, I figured I’d manage. It is Sunday in Hamburg, and those who aren’t still asleep after a Saturday night out are most likely making their way to a brunch.

The cafébar Gloria is located in a beautiful street in Hamburg called Bellealliancestraße. Cosy, residential, inviting and with multicolored buildings following each other, it makes for a nice pre-brunch walk in these fresh winter temperatures. The Gloria is red, easy to find and hard to miss. With 20 years of existence behind it, it’s clearly a favorite neighborhood meeting point and I’m excited to try the brunch buffet with my friend. And what a buffet it is. Roughly 15 euro with a glass of champagne or orange juice included for all you can eat – fresh bread, small croissants, fruit, various cheese, butter, jam, potato salad, cooked red beets (Russian roots seal of approval), smoked salmon, just to name a few choices, and very prettily arranged. Almost floor-length windows let in the sunlight of this clear, cold morning, and the atmosphere is relaxed, welcoming, as I listen to the snippets of conversation around me in French, German and English and dig in to my food. The staff is quick, attentive and smiling without seeming stressed. As I lean back and sip my fresh peppermint tea, I think again about how much I enjoy being part of a morning crowd like this, and that I will have to come back, because there is no room for the homemade cheesecake that my friend warmly recommended.

One once again idyllic walk around the glistening Alster river later, and I make lunch for the next day at work, only to discover that I had forgotten to defrost the meat I needed for the dish. But the internet saved me with this trick that actually worked!

One could have made a Nutella burger, but I’ll leave that to the pros.



10 Obvious, but Productive Things to Do while there is no WiFi

So obviously it’s winter and I’ve been reading quite a lot, though I do that generally. Make that regularly. No, wait, all the time! My reading speed and output (number of finished books) also increases dramatically if I have no internet. I morph from a bookworm to a book-dragon. I burn, baby, burn.

I recently came home one evening to discover that my Wi-Fi wasn’t working at all. Anywhere or on anything. The horror. I had to actually phone people.

While waiting for the problem to be fixed, I came up with lots of ideas on how to fill the time (I’m not someone who doesn’t know what to do otherwise, I do have a life outside of watching YouTube, for God’s sake!).


  1. The aforementioned reading. If you have a list of books you wanted to read, use it. If a book has been lying around on your nightstand like a neglected sandwich, open it. It will not smell and you will experience a sense of achievement, even if you’ll get to read a few pages before the internet switches back on. No, seriously, reading is important and an experience all on its own, regardless of the internet.
  2. Get rid of old, unnecessary things, like the weird present you got at last year’s Secret Santa (or Schrottwichteln in German. Schrott means crap).
  3. Take out the trash – there’s always trash.
  4. Do one household activity you strongly dislike and be reconfirmed regarding your dislike of said activity.
  5. Stream something. Oh… OK. Pop in a DVD. Do you own DVDs?
  6. Inscribe and sign birthday cards with creative messages of your own unique invention.
  7. Cook! Eat! Food!
  8. Get a colouring book.
  9. Get some air. Outside of the internetless air of your apartment.
  10. Talk to the real people in your life. They will understand your pain.




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!