OverThinking.

I overheard a conversation between two women the other day. One was at a bar with her coworkers the night before and they all got a little relaxed after some drinks that followed a rather exhausting business meeting. The woman said she felt good, she was relaxed, laughing, happy and outgoing. Especially after her second and third drink. Everybody laughed at her jokes and the way she danced with another coworker after her fourth drink. Dancing the night away, f****** awesome. Then she came back home and went to bed. The alcohol wore off and she realized that she kissed this particular coworker (who she secretly had a crush on for several weeks now) wondering if this was okay. If she maybe was too drunk, too loud, to annoying or what the others may have thought about her dancing her “ass off” to ABBA’s Dancing Queen while pretending her empty wine glass is a microphone. “Creepy, no”, she asked her friend. “I feel like killing myself now. What does everybody else think now?” 

The other woman just nodded in silence and told her that “this guy will most likely never call you again. Maybe if you are really lucky!” This made me realize again how unimportant it is what others think. Who the hell cares. I know I should not have too many thoughts for too long  (just a couple of seconds really) about any (weird) interaction I have had with another human being. Thinking about some strange noises I made, too much alcohol I drank or [insert anything here]. I laugh about it, shrug, cringe and move on. It is in the past. Nothing I can do about it now anymore. To think about it longer than a couple of seconds is too much. I know that life can be painful and cruel sometimes so I won’t make it worse by overanalyzing things or replaying certain scenarios over and over in my mind. Other weird things will happen for sure so I stop worrying (German Angst) and move on to the next inevitable situation. No need to put my head down, curl up in fetal position and weep for hours or days. 

Of course, this is not a free-of-jail card to misbehave inappropriately and just don’t think about it anymore. If I did something totally crazy I of course apologize. This post addresses more the little weird annoying behaviours but not insane rudeness. 

I have one more example that proves that I don’t even have to overthink what other people’s reactions are. Tonight I spent a great evening with my family and certain people looked at me weird and talked when I danced or about what I wore. Do I care that I am not dressed all in white or dressed in expensive brands and pretend I am someone I am actually not? Nope! This most certainly does not make me cringe, think about how I look or what I wear for one second. I do not have to apologize, feel embarrassed or weird. Most likely, people like this will gossip about everyone and everything anyway so who cares. It’s not my problem. I am free. I am me. I am doing my thing. And I am happy the way I am. 

WordCrime.

The Forensic Linguistic Conference in Porto was fantastic and I just got reminded again that the words we speak every day are so important indeed. Also, the proposal for my Masters project is due tomorrow. It seems I changed, rewrote, reviewed, added and edited this thing about a million times and I cannot wait to send it tomorrow to have it off my plate. 

I had a recurring thought that popped up at the conference that I will address.  There were some excellent presentations of projects, dissertations and research and it mattered so much how the words presenters used shaped their attitudes and perceptions. And mine. It made me realize that using big, fancy words can sometimes confuse more than explain, especially whenever the presenter did not know what they were even talking about. The review and comments some presenters received were hurtful, created pain, sadness but also joy and happiness.  I can make the presenter feel good or bad. I can destroy him completely, too. Or like in the recent Michelle Carter case, make people kill themselves via text messages by encouraging suicide.  All with one simple things. Words. Or is it rather the case that words alone cannot kill? 

To get back to my initial thought from the conference: I am analyzing suicide notes for addressivity and am wondering if words can kill, which words can be used to save a person’s life? There is one particular suicide I tried to prevent when I was a police officer. I spoke for approximately two hours to a suicidal woman who stood on her balcony on the 9th floor of an apartment building. Two hours! I thought about grabbing her and pulling her back to change her mind and make her live but there was no way I could get close enough. After a while she looked at me and thanked me for “the nice talk” but she “has to do this now and I need to stop manipulating her by trying to change her plan”. And she jumped. My police chief told me to never look into the eyes of a person who commits suicide in front of me “because it is the eyes you will remember”. Also, to avoid looking at the person too closely after. Well, as a police officer, one really doesn’t have the option. I looked. And her eyes are still with me to this day re-appearing in my dreams here and there. I never dealt with this problem properly until a couple of months ago. Could I have used different words and saved her? 

In my professional life I dealt with way too many suicides. I know that it is always a pressure on me as well as on the families and friends of the suicidal person. In the case of my “balcony woman” I said everything I could think of, offered help, understanding, advice, support and maybe even love. “Life is worth living,” I said. I remember the words clearly. She looked at me and cried. My words just weren’t enough. Would she still be alive if a different police officer would have dealt with her? Coulda, woulda, shoulda! I will never find out regardless. 

She jumped from a balcony on the 9th floor. Not a beautiful picture as you can imagine and now the questions:  “Who is responsible? Is nobody responsible but the person herself? Do words really matter that much after all? Can words kill or can’t they? Can I simply resist or act differently even though words create and influence certain situations? Would the situation have been different if the “balcony woman” would have realized that I did not try to manipulate her but just save her life? 

I think that words alone do not have the power to kill. There is always more involved. It always makes me wonder what a person thinks just before they commit suicide. How hopeless, sad, angry, depressed or whatever else must they be to finally decide to take their own life? The “balcony woman” clearly did not see a different, new way. She decided that “it is time”. Later in a different police report I found out that her boyfriend left a couple of days before her suicide and sent her a goodbye-letter. 

Thoughts at the Restaurant.

“I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay 

I have listened to so many amazing research topics in the Forensic Linguistic field today that left me with this somewhat existential meltdown on the significance of my research. Uncertainty, why I am even doing what I am doing and, why other’s are working on topics that can be easily answered with a bit of common sense. I could answer some research questions because I am genuinely good at it; they are things that I have learned through experience in law enforcement. So are my goals to ambitious? Will someone else say the same thing I just mentioned about my research? I am kind of overwhelmed and bathe in a bit of doubt while I enjoy my Pastel de Nata and cup of coffee for dessert. My thesis supervisor tells me that “I am going to be okay if I want to go through with this”. But, I want to be great. I want this thesis to have significance and at the same time enjoy the journey of writing and all the shitty stuff that comes with it. 

Another problem I have is that I indeed have the motivation but whenever I think of my goals, I cannot help but question my thesis by thinking of all these hundreds and maybe thousands of people who are more qualified than I am. Who write better, clearer and are more precise. Maybe who have better skills since English is not my first language. So what happens next? I freak out even though people tell me all these supporting lines like: “this too shall pass”, “everything is gonna be alright” or “you still have so much time to work on the thesis”. How unhelpful it is in the situation but looking back, so true indeed. Having enough confidence in my work while being on this journey takes a lot of practice. For me, it is not something I hear and accept instantly. It has to sink in, like other life’s big lessons. And, for me to really learn is to live and experience new things even those some people warned me of those earlier. 

Anxiety aside, I reckon that I will have to go through the writings and research on my own. It will make me smarter, a better writer and more me. I just have to learn to take life’s occasional punches and get right back up. “Adriaaaaaaaan!” 

So in the end,  I have accepted I will be fine and I don’t have to make any major decisions about my future. I also don’t have to stress and worry about things that I cannot change right now. I actually realized today, that even though all this research seems like a competition, if I don’t want it to be, it is actually not. It is a challenge and personal growth and I allow to let myself dream along the way. New opportunities will emerge and twist and turns will appear when I least expect them. Also, new things that scare or excite me and throw me off my little seemingly secure path will appear. I don’t have to worry about them however if I cannot change them now. 

If one door opens, another one closes. I can choose a different path. One that takes me away from where I am at this point. This is a beautiful notion to keep in mind. Looking back at my life I am glad things happened the way they did, even though some events were very sad and full of stress or pain. An optimistic take on life is important to me. And even though I am usually pretty good at it, I know that there will be new crossroads and intersections life throws at me when I find myself standing right in the middle of it, wondering what way to choose or what to do next. I know I can plan things only to a certain degree but in the end it might not look as I expected it to be. It is in a way always a gamble with life. New mistakes will be made, I will mess up but it will be okay. Life is a learning process. Maybe I thought I love my new career and I end up hating it and have to quit. Who knows. The same approach goes for everything else: relationships, things I buy etc. The feeling of uncertainty is okay, I believe. It is just another emotion worth noticing but it comes and goes. Worrying and uncertainty go really well together but I stop wasting energy these days and rather find solutions that can help me get things accomplished. 

Sometimes I might feel like I am going nowhere or backwards and running around in circles. Sometimes it might be frustrating and I feel like throwing my computer out of the window while editing and revising. But, that’s life. Constantly striving for something better or bigger does not get me anywhere. It only takes me away from being in the present and enjoying the moment. While I type this my frustrated, exhausted, annoyed waiter is staring out of window observing the passing cars while possibly dreaming of a different job and life. 

 

 

Conversation Starters.

I am in Portugal, alone, attending a conference and spending my birthday week in style. I have to add, that I miss Petit Joel like crazy (did I just type this for real) but I enjoy every second here in Porto. What an amazing, beautiful and charming, laid-back, chaotic city. I am exploring and testing new food which is so much fun and yum. My favourite so far is Pastel de Nata, the famous Portuguese custard tart. Combine with a cup of coffee and a good book= perfection. 

Or this traditional Portuguese soup (Caldo Verde):

I don’t even mention that the ocean is almost empty due to the amount of fish I eat. So fresh and good. Diet soon. 

I mentioned that I am here alone. So wherever I go and sit down or wait, there seems to be this commiseration which almost is like a sign of survival for some people. Since I am here, I bonded with many women and men over different weird things that I lost track. For example insane long lines at a Pastel de Nata bakery where I turned around to look at other people in line and then made the head/eyes upward movement to wait for agreement how terrible it is to wait that long. Waiting for agreement? Maybe. This is communication, too. Why do I have this urge to emotionally connect with other people? Why do other people? Maybe because I am woman? I don’t know why but whenever the right moment comes along I have this urge to interact or connect with strangers. It is just this instinct to bond with a person close to me who is also happy, surprised, lost (like today at the beginning of the conference), upset (also at the beginning of the conference) or confused (see above). I want to share some other propensities of connecting with others and how I break the “we-are-no-longer-strangers-stage” and small talk starts. 

Waiting in front of a conference room, at a bus/train station or overall waiting for something that is delayed. Nothing brings people together talking more frequently. Being stuck in an elevator? It takes usually a couple of seconds until the other prisoners start talking to me. Also, anything that is confusing creates conversations. Looking for an entrance (like I did this morning) instantly creates a new family. 

Extremely insane slow or long lines in a store. Being in a store and the person all the way in front pulls out a checkbook or purse full of vouchers and coupons. Great conversation starter right there. 

A loud, sudden, crazy sound out of nowhere. I look around where the sound came from or jump in surprise. Many times the source of the sound will never be discovered. 

Always: Women’s bathroom at bars or clubs. Especially, when and if drunk. It always surprises me what is exchanged and said in women’s bathrooms but it explains why they always go to the bathroom together. Why? I don’t know. I never did it intentionally. 

The weather. What is the best conversation starter ever if you have nothing else to say? Yep, the weather. Most likely I get a response if I say how disgustingly hot, wet or cold it is. Any mutual discomfort is a great way for strangers to interact. If I sweat like crazy and the stranger is: bonus points. 

On the plane. I have already written about it here but want to add that the flight to Porto was a mayhem of turbulence. Turbulence on a plane create friendships. Also, great landings (German people usually clap), bad/good food on the plane or this amazing feeling that the 8-hour flight is finally over. 

Closed or closing stores. I immediately bond with the people waiting outside. People share my irritation and everyone who waits unites against the one and only enemy, the closing store. 

Raising my Son.

I tucked in my son for the night and realized again how quickly he changes. He goes in and out of the bed at night by himself to use the bathroom and is able to switch on the lights. But he could not do these things about a month ago. Kindergarten will start in September which is another huge, new chapter in his little life. He looks forward to it, without fear but rather excitement; I learn so much from him almost on a daily basis. My baby is not a baby anymore and grows up too quickly. Do I raise him in a good way? Am I a good mom? Can I raise him in a way to fight stereotypes later? The other day he told me what he wants to be when he grows up. He switches from pilot to doctor to astronaut (all fine with me, ha!) and I basically tell him he can do and be anything he wants to do and be.

If you followed my blog for a while you know that I love to listen to playground talk. I don’t really engage but I listen. [I always carry my moleskin notebook with me to get my thoughts on paper, especially stuff like this because it initiated this blog post]. So two mom’s spoke about how they hate it when their sons bring up any interests in let’s say “feminine things”. “This is not good for my son and he most certainly will not become a hairdresser or use makeup. He wants to use my makeup all the time. I think he is so weird because he wants to use my nail polish,” one mom says and I am inhaling and exhaling deeply. Don’t ever tell your son he is weird just because he wants to use your nail polish! Why not just raise my son to be a kind, a gentlemen and a confident person who is free enough to follow their dreams? Whatever they might be. 

I want to share a couple of things that work for me in this never-ending struggle or battle to educate and raise my son. We mothers signed up for this challenge when we got pregnant and nobody warned us. [Even if someone would have told me how difficult it will be sometimes, I would not have believed it since I know and will make everything better and different, duh!] This is one approach how I educate and raise my son: I let him cry if he wants to. I never tell him that he should not cry because he is a boy, or “only girls cry” and BS like this. I don’t want to raise a robot. He has feelings. He can cry. I also want to be his role model and I see and feel how he observes me. Questioning things, asking, researching, he wants to know what is going on. I can see how a certain type of behavior like heavy smoking and drinking, domestic violence etc. within a family can really mess these little people up.

Further, I think another important point is to just let him be himself. I let him chose what color he wants and won’t buy blue toothbrushes for him just because. The last time we bought new ones he wanted a yellow glittery one. Cool! It just always amazes me when I buy clothes for him and there is this teeny tiny boy’s section in the story with colors like grey, blue, brown or black and then five floors of girl’s stuff; which is usually a plethora of clothing from the standard (annoying) princess dress to a Carrie Bradshaw outfit for five year-olds. I want my son to follow his interests, I don’t want to put too many limits, within reason. If he wants to play with dolls and his girlfriends at the daycare one day, cool!. Who says boys have to play with trucks, lego and clay only? I never want to reinforce gender stereotypes. For some reason I also think that whenever he plays with girls he communicates differently. Different in a problem-solving kind of way. I encourage friendships with girls. [Must be a women-thing, I reckon]. Also, I think it is important to never use the word “girl” as an insult. [Or use “grab them by the pussy”]

I also teach him to take care of himself and others. He has certain little chores that need to be done. We clean together, do laundry, wash dishes, cook, go shopping. My son observes that there is a certain type of routine which is not a bad thing. The house can look like a mess when he plays but he cleans up when it is time to go to bed. We have a lot of elderly people in our neighborhood and my son observes how I talk to them and help them occasionally. He loves to take care of the neighbors cat when they were on vacation because I taught him. And now that he is “older” we can work together and he can help me with little tasks. I show him how I fold the laundry and he tries to fold his. So cute. 

I was not too good at teaching him that “no means no” in the beginning but I learned along the way and he respect me. This is the key I reckon. He knows the power of the word “no” and he mostly complies. One last point I want to add is reading. I love reading and so does he. I read to him almost every night and most certainly not only “boy-books” but also German “princess stories” like Rapunzel, and Snow White. I don’t want him to think that women need to be saved either. Being a mother and raising a child is not f*****easy. Far from it. 

FASHION POST: Love/Hate Relationship with Skirts and Dresses.

Another hot day in Barcelona sightseeing. Wanderlust. No clue about fashion but my Lois Vuitton is usually next to me while traveling. 

After a long conversation with a very good friend of mine on fashion and why fashion blogs are so popular I had a packing/cleaning date this evening with my closet and realized again that neither skirts nor dresses feel quite right to me. I own a couple because I think I should own them. They are awesome when it is really hot, comfortable and make me feel feminine while shorts are more practical and boring in a way. I wear those when I chase Petit Joel around at the playground. I love my legs and I never regretted the tattoo that covers nearly my entire right leg. However, those awesome legs of mine never look as I want them to in denim shorts. Question: When are denim shorts simply too short? I am not into fashion at all and don’t know what is in style these days but I have seen a couple of “girls” today who wore shorts that seemed crotch-threatening. 

If you really want to pull this look off, you cannot have a face and have to hold something in your hand. At least you have hands. 😉 

So, why love/hate relationship? I put on a dress or skirt in the morning because it seems like a fun option since it is finally warm enough here in Canada. Secretly however I wish I could just change into my black or blue jeans. I love my jeans. All of them. I think I am officially addicted to jeans and plain, simple t-shirts.

For some time I gave up on dresses and skirts altogether. It seemed like I try to be someone I am not. I know that some clothes just look good or fit a certain type of woman and squeezing into something just because does not work for me either. Fashion industry tells me what to wear, what is in style or looks great. Since I question everything these days I have to say: Don’t tell me what to do, fashion industry! I can think for myself and decide what looks good on me! The other day I observed a woman in a secondhand clothing store trying on a dress. I could tell that the color was just wrong and the dress way too tight for her without any fashion knowledge whatsoever. But the saleswoman went on and on telling her how beautiful she looks in this dress. They want to sell thing, right?! “And this dress gives you this special glow which is so great since it is summer now!” I wanted to tell “the client” the truth but who am I? I have no clue about fashion while I look at secondhand cardigans from the 80s and know for sure that I can combine them with my white vintage Karate club t-shirt that rocks. 

I accepted that I just cannot wear certain things and I have determined a somewhat stylistic choice which states who I am and what my character and  persona is. Then again, it is just clothing and you don’t know me by just looking at what I am wearing. So many times, wearing a shorter skirt feels to me like being at a party that I don’t really want to attend in the first place but all my friends are having a great time so I am pretending I am in a good mood even though I feel like crap and want to go home and read.

I can also try to figure out my skirt/dress issue by simply noticing that it gets more and more difficult over time to think about why I don’t talk to certain ex-boyfriends anymore. It just doesn’t work and I stopped doing it. And I apply the silent treatment to things like fashion since, I reckon, this is a great way to deal with it. Otherwise, silent treatment sucks. Period. 

At the end of my cleaning/decluttering closet process tonight I put some of my dresses and skirts on and I like them. Maybe it is because they look more flattering since I lost a bit of weight, and I believe I will, before grabbing my regular pair of jeans, have a little feminine talk, and opt for the dress or skirt instead even though it is totally and entirely out of my comfort zone. A skirt forces me to think about matching tops and shoes and whatnot which is way too much stress in the morning. 

Will I transform this website into a fashion blog? Definitely not. My passion lies in thought, analyzing, writing and reviewing things rather than fashion. And this realization just feels like a nice, comforting little breeze around my nether regions while wearing a skirt. 

Wanderlust.

“Wherever you go, there you are.” 

I felt this urge for Wanderlust [wan·der·lust, wändərˌləst/, noun, a strong desire to travel], this zest for something new strongly in early January when I actually came back to Canada from  Germany. What I missed was sun, warmth and since the Canadian winter is very long and cold. After I read this New York Times article on 52 Places to go in 2017 and some recurring dreams about flying high above the Atlantic, looking out of the window to spot some white Rorschach clouds I decided it is time for change. 

Changes. Today at my son’s daycare his teacher announced the list of children who will leave (travel to) for Kindergarten in September. How come many changes  happen usually at the same time? His teacher said, “Daniela, change and a new scenery is a good thing!” I did not say not too much to my son about it all and he is totally okay with the transition. So while we were at his new school for an introduction session he looks at me and says, “Can we see grandma and grandpa in Germany again, please?” And I am thinking and answer him surprisingly pretty quickly, “Why not. Let’s fly to Germany!” 

I heard many of my “friends” say that people who like to travel that much as I do usually always run away from something. They are not content. They are in this perpetual state of confusion of looking for something new, something that does not exist or keep running from things they actually cannot run away from. When we travel, are we running away from something? For me, it is obvious that I love to discover new things rather than to run away from anything.  Looking at ze husband’s life who currently arranges and organizes his life according to flight itineraries, I have to say that this is traveling galore to me and something I would love to do as well. Just not to the same locations he is traveling to. 

 My trips are usually always bittersweet with this anxious anticipation of the unknown. Leaving and coming home is usually even “bittersweeter”. Leaving my parent’s house is always a drama since good old Germany and the home base are predictable, comfort, rest and relief. Everything is familiar. Germany means hugs and smiles of loving parents and family. But I am more than fine exploring any other country. It is slightly different since I usually travel with my son and not alone anymore but we did not have any issues so far. I reckon, there is always some physical or emotional sacrifice when I travel. This will never change. If it is the sometimes intrusive security personnel or the new food we taste that 98% turns out to be delicious. [Buffalo Mozzarella Caprese in Italy! Now I can die. NOW I have had it all!] I find it challenging at some points to deal with a new found courtesy or hospitality as well as different levels of friendships or respect. Or when the words “Closing Hour” does not mean anything but partying until 6am. Sometimes a population is surprisingly cool, yet dramatic and angry when I ask for a glass of wine. Some curse at anything and everything while rushing through the streets and trying to hail a cab. The traffic, this f****** traffic in this city. How come cabs don’t want to take you to the suburbs? And how come so many people are homeless and poor in this seemingly rich, yet isolated society? 
 
Is there a problem with wanderlust? So far, not to me. I have heard others say that the more places they traveled to, the less satisfied they were. Anything fancy is boring to them now. The same happened with adventures, backpacking tours, road trips and whatnot. Well, I believe if I don’t see wanderlust as an addiction it works well. Of course I would love to travel more but I don’t need it all the time. Until it hits me again. Like in January. One thing is crucial for me however. It is that the more I experience and see in different countries the more similarities in personality issues and hate I discover and detect among the people. It makes me sad sometimes, angry or frustrated and I understand and have to keep in mind that the only reward of my journey is the journey itself. This journey on the path of my life with a never-ending bucket list of places to go, see and explore. 
 
To conclude, I want to reflect on the quote I added at the beginning of this post. I guess, I can never escape myself. Wherever I go, there I am. But I also cannot find myself since I just am. I also did not lose myself yet. I exist. And travel. And explore. And I do it with lust. Wanderlust. Germany first stop. 
 

The Handmaid’s Tale.

I just finished binge-watching The Handmaid’s Tale and I am in awe. This incredibly awesome show is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same title. The Handmaid’s Tale was the first Atwood-novel I read and loved (I actually read it twice); however, I could not get too comfortable with most of her other books based on dystopian worlds even though they are mysteriously compelling. I love how somewhat satisfying other dystopian movies like The Hunger Games and also I am Legend or The Matrix were.

Especially, looking at society today it makes sense to watch some of the most ominous parts that seem so perilously depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale. Sadly, it just doesn’t seem so dystopian to me after all anymore which makes these type of movies or series somewhat scary or frightening. (“Trump’s pussy grabbing Presidency” somehow strangely comes to mind) It all seems like it is not based in a so-far-away future. And of course everyone wants to go to Canada in the end. Go figure. 

I literally binge-watched ten episodes in two days and was horrified most of the time about the depiction of America under totalitarian rule (hm) in episode one, combined with a devastating mix of a lot of suffering and torn-apart families. Initially, the society in the US seems to be just normal, but then there is military everywhere patrolling the streets; women start to lose their jobs without further explanation and shortly after have no access to bank accounts anymore and are hunted while their kids are taken away from them. The main protagonist is June (Elizabeth Moss). She tries to flee a country that seems to suffer from a fertility crisis among other problems, together with her husband and daughter. Their destination is Canada but they won’t make it. The husband stays back at the car as military approaches and June plus daughter run into the woods to hide. They hear two/three gun shots and get caught shortly after. June’s daughter is taken away from her (made my mom-heart so sad) and she is taken to Gilead, which is a military operated nightmare prison under strict fundamentalist rule. (Scary how real everything seemed!) What happened to June’s husband and daughter? No spoilers!

June is now stripped of identity, given color-coordinated clothing by class (red for the handmaids), given a new name (Offred), and  transformed into a slave-handmaid with just one value: to bear children. From now on her life is lived in this prison of obedience, prayers, institutionalized rape, abuse and lots of terror; however, it is all for the “greater puritanical good” as master and leader tell the handmaid’s constantly. In short, living in Gilead means: no democracy, men own women, the Bible is seen as a governing text that is sweetly manipulated and bent and public hanging and stoning is okay again. 

I had a lot of mixed feelings watching The Handmaid’s Tale. My emotions and reactions went from sad, watery eyes, jaw dropping, nervous chocolate eating, tea drinking to nail biting and red wine. There is however a lot of criticism about this show. I don’t care much about these reviews and interpretations. All I see is that the book has been written in 1985 but it just rings very true today. Truer maybe this year, than last year which makes this show very real and neither too far-fetched nor too dystopian. The Handmaid’s Tale could almost be seen as a relevant, important warning that leaves a queasy feeling in the stomach. Most haunting for me was that it seems one cannot really escape this world. Even worse, it is all created by humans. 

I sign off and clean my kitchen now. And do a pile of laundry. Where have I been for the last two days? But it was so worth it. 

Things That Are Aging Me quickly For Realz.

So a couple of days ago I bought a bottle of good Portuguese wine since I will be going to a conference in Portugal soon and need to figure out beforehand how the wine situation is. The person at the register asked me for my ID. Did I get annoyed? Why would I? My question is always, “how old do you think I am?” He said mid-twenties. I bought another bottle of wine and left the store with my head held up high. Apparently, I look young, fresh and healthy. Inside, I felt tired, exhausted, stressed out and discouraged for the last week plus. I overheard this sweet conversation of two elderly ladies at the store the other day. They both said how nice it would be to just be twenty again, to have the opportunity to do it all over and that they both wouldn’t mind being healthier and with less wrinkles. Further, they added they would never get married again and who needs men anyway. 

I paid for my salmon, arugula, tomatoes and mozzarella (favorite dish for supper when it is hot outside) and thought about aging, the anti-aging market and eternal youth. Will the person at the liquor store still ask me for my ID in ten years? I know by now that creams, peels, lasers and all the chemicals like botox are most certainly not a solution. It just does not work. A cream cannot get rid of cellulite and why would I want to let a doctor inject the fat from my ass into my lips to make them fuller? Can I reverse the aging process somehow on my own? Is there a way to reverse the aging process? More wine? More Portuguese wine? Or is booze aging me the most? In moderation, most likely not. Well, I know what is aging me for sure. 

Stress. Stress is bad for me. Occasional stress is manageable but anything chronic kills me. Assignments, deadlines, tons of work and when usually everything comes together (Petit Joel sick etc.) I feel like curling up in fetal position to silently weep myself to sleep. It has been a rough couple of weeks but I am seeing a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. If I don’t get enough sleep and whenever I am tired for a couple of days in a row I feel old.  

 Lack of Sleep. There is no sugarcoating this one. Sleep deprivation for a long time makes me feel and look old. I am a Master student with tons of work so I know what I am talking about here when I am usually up at 1 am still. Being up so late is not doing me any favors and I actually cannot even concentrate at this point. These days, I try to go to bed by 11pm (so right after I sent this post out) and then read a bit until 12pm. That is it. I feel rested and I do need my beauty sleep and know that my body detoxifies during a nice 7-8 hour restful sleeping period. Whenever I don’t sleep enough, I cannot focus too well, my memory does not work which makes me drink more coffee and this then makes me feel old and dries out my skin. You get the idea? Isn’t it amazing how much bad stuff (alcohol, cigarettes, not enough sleep etc.) I did/do to my body sometimes but he still “forgives me” and keeps on working? Food for thought and change. 
 

Phone and Computer. Again, everything in moderation but I realized the other day how much time I actually spend on my phone or in front of the screen and it makes me feel old or age faster for some reason. I am not taking my phone to the playground anymore. I focus on my son and that is it. Also, I set a time limit to work on my school projects; like write for 2-3 hours then turn the computer off and do nothing else to give my brain some time to rest. By nothing, I mean nothing. No music, no reading or anything. Just laying on the couch for a bit listing to my body or the wind and just process the present moment. 

Sitting. Are you sitting down for this? Working at my desk for those 2-3 hours straight makes me feel so stiff that I want to go outside and run. I have this urge to move around, stretch and eat my lunch in the plank position. Too much sitting makes me feel old. Makes me stiff all over and my muscles ache. These days I take my bicycle everywhere to move around. Or I practice Yoga. Or a nice walk in the park. Swimming at the public pool is also awesome, especially since it is getting warmer here in Canada. Finally, eh! 

I just have to keep this in mind and make some changes here and there and I am on my way to the fountain of youth. 

What’s for Supper?

I cleaned my kitchen cabinets this morning to just get an overview on what I have hoarded. The fridge, freezers and storage cabinets are full with stuff and I still end up going to the store to buy more. Well, I actually realized that I don’t need to buy food at all for weeks. Seriously, that much stuff. I watched Michael Pollan’s documentary In Defense of Food the other day since the book was okay and inspirational. I also love to broaden my horizon whenever it comes to food and my health. And what I really like is flavorful, mostly organic food by trying to embrace the notion of the current season. I am fortunate to eat this way, I have to add. Organic healthy eating is actually not really that cheap and Pollan hasn’t paid too much attention or provided solutions on this topic for the let’s say, less fortunate community. 

Pollan describes different eating habits in countries like France for example. Whenever I am in France, I admire how people enjoy good, simple food just like cheese, a baguette and a bottle of good wine shared with friends. They take their time and rarely walk around with food in their hand; it seems eating is a celebration and sensation every time without stressing out. The same I observed in Spain when people come out of their houses early in the evening when it is not that hot anymore (usually by 8 pm!!) and meet at a local small restaurant to eat together and take their time. No stress, no drive-through ordering at Starbucks (or anywhere actually) ever and just taking my time to prepare a nice meal.  “Eating this way is what I want, too”, I said and I made some adjustments but overall, simplicity is key for me. 

Petit Joel and I spent this morning in the kitchen cooking and baking which turned out to be so much fun. He loved to help and made cakes with the homemade Playdoh I made for him. We sprouted seeds, made chocolate ice cream, bread and rolls only with ingredients I had already at home. The kitchen had this nice smell of freshly baked bread while I kept cleaning the cabinets, throwing things out that 1) I would never eat again or 2) are expired. 

Later and after we cleaned the entire kitchen, we took our bicycles and decided to have lunch in the park at The New Art Festival which is really well done and great to visit even with kids. Diving into art and learning about local artists and their artwork is just what rounded up this day nicely for me.  Our picnic blanket came in handy when someone was too tired and felt too hot to continue walking because his legs are old (Joel) so we stopped and ate our rolls, some sliced carrots, apples and he then waited patiently in line for some chocolate ice-cream drink at the festival. 

We spent the rest of the day outside, playing, talking to friends and enjoying the sun and warmth. So what’s for supper? Joel wanted more of my bread (yay!) with banana slices and some almond butter. This was basically it since we usually eat very light for supper. Of course, whenever ze husband is around we have homemade pizzas or pasta in any variation but usually, I just have some form of salad and take a paper-wrapped cheese or occasionally charcuterie from the fridge and lay it out nicely on a wooden board. I add some grapes and call it The French Revolution Night. I might open a jar of Pâté and eat this with a slice of crusty homemade bread. Heaven! Again, simple is key! 

After this long day we curled up on the couch with hot chocolate and popcorn to watch Moana again (Petit Joel’s favorite movie!). Thinking about food, traveling and what I already ate I have to say that I can adapt to anything, especially if it is  simple and rustic (German) but also fine dining and complex dishes (Delegates Dining Room United Nations). For me, variation is important because eating the same things every day gets boring and I want to try new things. Like pho. 

What I discovered in Ottawa today: 

While we ate supper today, we listened to Jazz. There is some sort of Jazz music playing at our house most of the time. These days I am into Kenny Barron. I found out today that he will be in Ottawa soon for the Jazz Festival. Hopefully I can be there to enjoy this fantastic artist even if it means to take Joel. He is used to my taste in music by now, I reckon. He better be! 🙂 Life is good. And I am listening to this while I am typing.