Posts Tagged With: Friendship

Optimism or Why My Mother Rocks

I don’t have many rules in my life. I don’t believe in any god or religion either. Pretty much the only gospel I follow is: ‘There’s nothing a little bit of shopping can’t fix’. (Sometimes shopping gets replaced with food, but let’s stay simple here.)

So today, when my mom asked if I wanted to do something with her, my first thought was ‘PRIMARK!’ like a crack whore whose last fix happened way too long ago. Which comes close to the truth, in case you’re wondering.

The thing with Primark is, it’s the bag of crisps among the shops. ‘I swear, I’m only gonna have a handful, I’m not even hungry.’ Uh huh. And out you come with ten heavy bags and a credit card screaming in agony. I did hold back today, though. Or actually, I didn’t feel like I did but I ended up paying way less than I thought and I still came away with a bunch of things I definitely hadn’t planned buying. Seriously, though, I know the puppy cushion was only 5€. I know it isn’t the worst kind of retail mania I’ve ever indulged in. But this newfound obsession with cushions for my couch really need to stop. In case you’re wondering: I have a 2-seater Ektorp couch from Ikea and that already has as little space as a couch will have. And I keep adding cushions because they’re all so adorable and pretty and uuuuggghh, I need them all.

But anyway, what I was actually gonna do was write a long appreciative post about the wonderful person that is my mother.

See that Hufflepuff shirt in the picture? See, I almost didn’t buy it. The thing with Primark and me is it has little love for my plus size body. With most of their shirts, their cardigans, their hoodies, well, most items that are meant to dress the upper half of your body, I will just about fit into their 20, sometimes more comfortably than other times. This often causes my heart to break silently when I browse their nerdy racks with all the Potter, Game of Thrones, Disney and other items. This time wasn’t much different and as usual, everything I didn’t want was available in all sizes, all the many available 20’s mocking me while I stared longingly at all the things I couldn’t have. When I saw these shirts, however, my inner Hufflepuff did a happy dance, followed by a sad dance when there were no 20’s left.

I dug out an 18 and looked at it, holding it up to my body and frowning dubiously, my usual ‘I know this is very irresponsible spending if I don’t at least try this on but the changing rooms are so annoying here’-dance, asking my mom if she thought I should just go for it or regret not buying it forever. When she goes, digs out a 12 and says ‘Or you could just buy this one for when you’ve lost all that weight!”

Awww, I know, right? That’s so lovely of her. Even though I know 12 is so ridiculous, it’s almost rude again, just the thought that she really, truly believes I’ll manage to lose all that weight eventually makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. My mom is one of the most brutally honest and judgemental people I know. If she thinks you’re full of shit or what you’re going will crash and burn, she’ll have you know, and she won’t stop before you’re curled up on the floor, crying uncontrollably. But when she says something motivational like that, you know she really believes it. You know she isn’t just supporting you because it’s kinda her job but she absolutely, 100% has your back.

So yes, hormonal or not, I was not looking forward to the first moment I got all teary-eyed in a Primark but it really couldn’t be helped today.

I did end up being an 18, by the way. My mom may believe in the impossible, but I’m just not there, yet.

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Categories: Me Myself and I, Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Piece of My Heart Lost

If you’re a perceptive person and glanced at the little Instagram feed waaaaay down on the bottom of my blog, you may have noticed that the past few days saw me feeding my IG account with a bunch of sightseeing pictures from London. Only just over a month since my last visit to this beautiful, beautiful city, I went back, this time to conquer the place with Mel.

Uhm...anyone alive?

Uhm…anyone alive?

After catching an insane 7 AM flight from Weeze to Stansted, we found an almost empty arrivals area and a slightly busier shopping area where we had to kill some time and enjoy a quick breakfast of sandwiches before catching out airport shuttle into the city. At this point I was already pretty convinced that I must have the face of a terrorist or a drug smuggler because at every passport control, it took a lot of glancing back and forth between my passport, their screen and my face and I was already preparing myself for a chat with a grumpy official. In the end, though, they always waved me through anyway. “No, officer, I’m not on any drugs, I’m just running on three hours of sleep!”

The airport shuttle was…a surprise. We’d watched all the huge modern coaches from National Express and Terravision come and go and I was already looking forward to an hour of napping in a comfortable seat when our Easybus shuttle arrived. I have no idea where they took the name Easybus from because the thing was pretty much an empty coke can on wheels, driven by a grumpy guy who seemed to trust that everyone would enjoy a little fearing for their life first thing after arriving in London. With hindsight, it was hilarious.

Heh.

Heh.

The shuttle dropped us off at Old Street from where we could catch the Northern Line straight down to our hotel in Clapham. Clapham is an area I had never been to before but I found it quite agreeable. There’s nothing exciting to do or see there and it’s really just one of the many cute little parts of London that are mostly residential but have a High Street to serve people’s everyday needs. But it was cute, with a large green common area and rather well kept town houses, so our hotel’s location could have been way worse. The first day, we had to walk quite a distance because the hotel’s information had said that it was right between two tube stations and it didn’t matter which one we got off on. The next day we found out that ‘right between’ means one is a 10 minute walk away, the other just around the corner. But at least we got to see a little of Clapham that way (and found that it had a café with a clever Game of Thrones reference.  Heh.). And being able to catch the Northern Line also is a good thing because it’s so easy to get somewhere with it. The hotel also seemed quite okay when we arrived, even though they wanted £4 just for storing our luggage. But it was either that or drag the suitcases around all day.

Come on, it's mandatory!

Come on, it’s mandatory!

After dropping our luggage off, we were faced with the decision of what to do first and guess what? We ended up at Starbucks! But not without saying hello to Piccadilly Circus. What is it about that place? You always hear about people running into celebrities there and even ‘mortal’ locals often happen to go to that place. I can’t imagine Parisians just randomly visiting the Eiffel Tower or New Yorkers to hang out by Lady Liberty’s feet but Londoners really seem to like Piccadilly Circus. Not like I could blame them, of course. It really is a magical place, even though I miss all the really cool stores they used to have there. (Read: I miss being able to buy records just anywhere in London without relying on HMV on Oxford Street!)

Please notice the gorgeous blue sky!

Please notice the gorgeous blue sky!

Starbucks served us well, even though it’s safe to say we both felt tired and exhausted from the early flight all day. Since Mel had made plans with a friend to catch up, we told her we’d meet her at the British Museum, so we were headed there next. The thing with museums is that I have mixed feelings about them. Art is a wonky subject because I can’t get into everything but then there are pieces that capture me so much I can sit and stare at them for ages. With historical stuff, I can never get excited about huge displays of many tiny bits and pieces but I love large pieces and statue that make me imagine what they looked like originally, where they used to be before and what it must have been like there. So the British Museum is perfect for me. Their Egyptian, Roman and Greek exhibitions have so many remarkable things to offer and I feel like they’re doing such a great job at creating just the right atmosphere for every piece. For example in many of

Word!

Word!

the Egyptian rooms, the lights are dimmed a little, the walls are a little darker and they often created an atmosphere that made you feel like you were walking straight into a tomb. And the Roman and Greek parts were often really light and airy. I just love visiting this museum, even though its architecture is a little more modern and not quite as stunning as the Natural History museum. Mel’s friend joined us halfway into our visit and we explored the Asian exhibition and a few other parts together before finishing our visit in the library (cue me fangirling!). Sadly, the doors to the large reading room were closed but nonetheless, the library is stunning! What I wouldn’t give to spend a day there reading. The only thing I don’t like is that there aren’t any books on the shelves anymore. I get that it would just be too much work to take care of it all and people can’t go up on the galleries anyway, so it isn’t like anyone ever gets to appreciate what’s on the shelves anyway but I don’t know. An empty library feels a little like a dead body.

I don’t even remember if we had any more plans for that day but we ended up having what was supposed to be a quick dinner but got extended to a long dinner and drinks and chat session. Which was just as well, as far as I’m concerned. By that time my feet hurt and I was ready to curl up under the table and go to sleep. We talked about music a lot (well, for the most part I listened because, despite not being interested in some of the bands they talked about, I just love listening to people talk about their favorite music because it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside to know people still appreciate it) and when we made it back to Oxford Street for some shopping at HMV, I bought two albums on impulse. The Third Three Years by Frank Turner which has live recordings from one of his shows in Wembley (because nothing ever beats Frank Turner live shows!) and Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem. Admittedly, no new discoveries but I finally caught up with some of my favorites.

After saying goodbye to our company, we made it back to our hotel for a somewhat early night in. For me it is always strange sharing a room with people for the first time. No matter how well you know someone, your evening and morning rituals are always something they haven’t seen yet. But I believe Mel and I made the best of the tiny space we had in our room. And tiny it was. But somewhat clean and the bed was alright-ish, so it was okay.

London has a beautiful love affair with modern ceilings like this.

The next day started with the usual question: What do we do first? We decided to go to King’s Cross first to feed our little Potterhead needs. Upon arriving at Platform 9 3/4, we were a little disheartened to find they made people queue up and pose in front of a professional photographer and everyone else. The good thing is you don’t have to get a professional photo done but can also just let your friend take a picture. So that’s what we did. Or Mel did, anyway. I still get a little breathless imagining myself posing in front of a bunch of strangers. It’s stupid and I kinda regret not doing it but there’s always next time and now that I know what it’s like, I can begin giving myself pep talks two months in advance. We also visited the Platform 9 3/4 store and splurged a little. I bought a ticket for the Hogwarts Express, writing paper and a card holder which came in handy for my several credit and ID cards, so I didn’t have to carry my huge wallet around all the time. When we left, I figured I should have bought postcards but when I told my mom about the whole experience, she said she wants to see it, too, so I suppose I’ll be back in November anyway. King’s Cross itself was a surprise for me because I thought it wouldn’t be so modern. Other than that, it was just a typical train station, I suppose. It also brought us the scariest moment of the whole trip, though. When we were in the HP store, there was an announcement asking all passengers and visitors to leave the station immediately. Suddenly, there was police around everywhere and no one knew what was up. I have to say, though, Londoners are quite hardcore about these things, especially after the whole Charlie Hebdo panic. Everyone was just randomly standing around, some people just went to get a snack and others even refused to interrupt what they were doing. We walked around the station in search of a Starbucks or some other place where we could wait and then go back in later but by the time we had walked around to the other end, people were already walking into the station again. We followed carefully, halfway expecting to get kicked out again but nope. In general, I’d say my anxiety over the whole terrorism affair is pretty bad right now and I had been a little nervous about going to such a popular place as London, so I didn’t really need this kind of shock, but I’m glad it ended up being nothing.

In front of Sherlock's door with my Harry Potter bag - does that scream NERD or what?

In front of Sherlock’s door with my Harry Potter bag – does that scream NERD or what?

Our next step took is straight to Baker Street to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I don’t know how often Mel apologized for ‘Sherlockizing’ this trip and I don’t know how often I told her it’s okay but it was often. We did a lot of Sherlock-related things and I didn’t mind in the slightest. First of all, it did introduce me to ‘new’ things about London I hadn’t seen and hadn’t done or even known about before. And then – as with the music talk – I just like seeing people get excited about the things they like. And I’m sure she’ll hate me for saying this but Mel is quite adorable when it is about something she’s truly excited about.

We ended our visit with mandatory pictures of ourselves posing in front of Sherlock’s front door. I was surprised to find there was no long queue outside because posing for pictures is completely free and I figured even a lot of passersby would stop to do so.

I’m nowhere near a Sherlockian but even I found some of the things they sold in the shop enticing. We didn’t buy anything, though, safe for the ticket to enter the museum. ‘Museum’ is a strange word here because it felt more like visiting someone’s home. 221b Baker Street doesn’t only look like a random town house from the outside, it also looks and feels that way from the inside, complete with cute wallpapers and creaking floor boards. The first two floors were awesome in the way that they looked like Sherlock was about to return any minute now. The last two were still cozy but they’d set up scenes from the books, using mannequins with often creepy faces and I didn’t like that as much. But the rest of the house I wanted to make my own. Even though my own rooms are so high and airy, I love small and cozy rooms, which a lot of British homes offer, and 221b Baker Street isn’t an exception to that. And the fireplaces! Oh dear!

 

Hay's Galleria - Our not so little shelter from the cold

Hay’s Galleria – Our not so little shelter from the cold

I don’t remember if it was our original plan or whether we made spontaneous adjustments but next we found ourselves at London Bridge from where we had a stunning view towards Tower Bridge. We decided to take a stroll along the Thames down towards Tower Bridge and passed Hay’s Galleria on the way. That’s another thing about London I love so much: You can just start walking somewhere and on the way you’ll pass many gorgeous little things you didn’t even know where there. According to the description, the Galleria used to be a wharf in former times but nowadays it’s something like a huge courtyard in which you’ll find bars, cafe´s and restaurants and also a few stalls selling crafts. We had a coffee at Starbucks and marvelled at the fact that we were sitting outside but somewhat sheltered, so it was unbearably cold.

Be still my heart!

Be still my heart!

Feeling refreshed, we pushed on towards Tower Bridge, but not without stopping to take a bunch of selfies in front of it. We were in good company, though, as a Spanish (?) travel group posed for a bunch of action group photos. Who could blame them (or us), though, since the bridge was simply stunning with the lights on and surrounded by all the other lights along the river. I can also proudly announce that after nearly five years, Mel and I managed to take our first real picture (well, pictures) together. And with Tower Bridge as our background, too. It feels like we’ve been waiting for this perfect opportunity.

Spooky trees in front of the Tower

Spooky trees in front of the Tower

We crossed the bridge, again feeling stunned by how huge and gorgeous and impressive it is up close, and found ourselves in front of the Tower. By then, it was too dark for any proper sightseeing. Or least to take proper pictures, as the seeing certainly wasn’t a problem with all the many lights around, making the whole city seem even more magical than it usually does. But since we’re little tourists at heart, we decided to put an end to the sightseeing for the night and went back to Oxford Street for some shopping.

Once there, our first stop was House of Fraser where I finally bought Mel her Christmas present. I’d given her a voucher for a Naked Basics Palette from Urban Decay since I didn’t just want to buy one and find she didn’t like the colors as much. It turned out to be a good decision because she wasn’t so excited about either of the Basics but lost her heart to the Naked 2 instead. So we bought that. I’m glad to finally welcome her to the world of Naked Addicts. Heh.

Next we went to Waterstones and the usual thing happened: I drag someone to a bookstore intending to BUY ALL THE BOOKS! but then end up not really able to find anything or get excited about anything and making an alibi purchase but my company buying something despite not even planning to do so. I’m also sorry to report that Mel’s purchase of Tinder was infinitely cooler than my simply continuing the I Heart series by buying the next instalment, I Heart Vegas. We ended the night with a visit to the Waterstones café downstairs where I had a delicious White Hot Chocolate and she had the grossest bottle of cola either of us had ever tasted.

The next early morning found us starting to hate our hotel a little bit because the fire alarm went off at four in the morning, and again several times between seven and eight. When Mel asked about it later, they said it was because of the construction workers they had around to refurbish and renovate the hotel but that they’d leave at six that night and it would be fine. Tired and still somewhat disgruntled but soothed by this news, we went out on our next adventure.

This time, our way led us to our next Sherlockian point on our to-do list, the Sherlock Exhibition at the Museum of London. Compared to the Sherlock Museum it was quite the culture shock because the whole museum, including the exhibition, was so very modern. All white, shiny walls, flat screens and audio effects. For me personally, the exhibition was very interesting because it focused largely on London during Sherlock (or Doyle’s) time, showing all pictures from the time, explaining a lot about the infrastructure and means of transport. But I suppose for real fans of the books, author and screenplays, it must be quite disappointing because it touches so many aspects but never really reaches much depth with anything. The museum itself wasn’t all that fantastic, either. The only absolutely cool thing was the Victorian Way, an area where they reconstructed what an old shopping district might have looked like (in a clean indoors kind of way, at least). It wasn’t amazing but I guess in a city that has so many museums, one has to be the lame one.

After leaving the museum, we walked down to St. Paul’s. Up until then we’d been so lucky with the weather, all blue skies and a kind of sunny cold. But that day was grey and dull and even a bit rainy and I’m afraid it pressed down on my mood a little bit. Nevertheless, we walked around the church and took some pictures but refrained from going inside because the entrance fee they’re asking for these days is just rude. And either way, the outside is already stunning enough for me.

I'm gonna love you and squeeze you and call you George!

I’m gonna love you and squeeze you and call you George!

The next step took us to the National History Museum where both of us had a fangirlgasm. Mel because of the architecture and I because of the little guy you see on the left. It was my third time visiting this museum and believe it or not, I had always forgotten to go look for a raccoon! Eek!  He’s a little faded and old and doesn’t look too friendly but I still wanted to take him home. I fear a couple of Asian kids thought I’d lost it because I snapped about a dozen pictures from all angles, and only of this little fella. Well, excuuuuuse me, I’m having a moment here!

Since stuffed animals and hordes of French school kids weren’t exactly to our liking that evening, we made it our of the museum after dragging me away from the critter and then…I flew. Yup, I flew down the entrance stairs, luckily only the last step, twisted my toe and ended right on my knees. I just crouched there and mumbled something like “OMG, oh please, oh no!”, feeling like the biggest tool. Luckily there was hardly anyone around, only a woman and her kid who probably thought that the chubby woman on her knees wasn’t just clumsy but also possessed of some kind of demon. A stronger character than me would have found this hilarious because even while I was falling I thought that, hm, this is kind of a slo-mo action here. Kudos to Mel who either pretended not to notice or left me the dignity of pretending I wasn’t sniffling and hobbling around all teary-eyed while nursing my bruised ego which was the only thing that took away a serious injury. Given my weight and the angle of the fall, I already saw myself in hospital with knee caps resembling crushed crisps. I also felt phantom blood trickling down my leg all the time even though I knew it couldn’t be bleeding because not even my jeans were sticking to my knees. Back in the hotel later, I found the left one a bit swollen and bruised quite colorfully and the right showing almost no sign of the accident. By now, the left is almost black (the first time I get to know why they call it ‘black and blue’!) but walking barely hurts anymore, so I guess I’ll get around seeing a doctor this time.

Despite the fall, I bit my lip and went through the rest on our list. To be honest, since I was with someone so much fitter and more in shape than me, I had already been struggling with keeping up all the time. During most of our trip I felt a bit like Samwell Tarly on his way beyond the Wall. But hey, even he had his pride and so did I! And that’s a good thing because so much good came out of that. First of all we got to do and see a lot more than if I had listened to my body’s complaining and taken a million breaks all day. Then I could just file it under exercise. And finally, apart from losing another piece of my heart to London, I also left over two kilos there. So really, the sore muscles and aching joints were so worth it.

Hello Gorgeous!

Anyway, after my free fall performance, we finally visited Big Ben to say hello. But again, it was too dark for proper pictures, so we walked to Trafalgar Square and down Northumberland Avenue, where Mel had another Sherlockgasm over the Sherlock Holmes pub. We considered going in for a snack but found nothing tasty and vegetarian on the menu and were a little too cheap to go in just for a coke. So we pushed on and had dinner from Subway before retiring to our hotel for a super early night in because we had to get up again at two in the morning. Early flights will be the death of me.

Again, to our horror, the fire alarm went off thirty minutes after we got to our room. And again, we got a different excuse. After Mel gave them a piece of her mind, though, all was quiet and we could sleep for a while, an hour in my case.

The trip back to the airport was straight from a horror movie because we had to catch two night buses but the stop for one of them had been shown in the wrong place on the map and by the time we found the right now, we had missed the last bus. With only twenty minutes left until we had to get to our airport shuttle, we finally decided to take a cab. An excellent decision because the cabby was the nicest old-ish guy I’ve ever met. He was so calm and sweet and helped us find the right place so calmly even though we must have confused the crap out of him. Thanks to his efforts, we made it just in time. Well, we did but our shuttle didn’t. It just wouldn’t come and when the next one on the schedule arrived, I halfway expected them to tell us there was no space for us. But again, we were lucky and had a super nice driver who instantly apologized and knew there’d been a problem with the previous shuttle, so we were finally on our way to the airport where, again, we arrived only just in time for the gate to open. Apparently, luck was on our side! But can I just say: Stansted, WTF? Your departure area is more of a mall than any of our actual malls! A MAC Store? Really? I was so glad London had left me broke and out of time or I would have found death of shopping right there.

So yeah, after a surprisingly short flight (two pages read, a quick nap and ta-da, we’ve arrived!), we landed back in cold and nasty Germany where we were greeted with a round of ice-scratching and by a bunch of insane drivers on the highway. But alas, it was a very, very, very fun trip that had its little hiccups and accidents but for the most part was so good, showed me another side of London and also happened to be my very first trip with a very dear friend.

So this tale of our little adventure has to end but let me finish with our first picture together (well, one of them!) that I rambled about previously…

Categories: Uncategorized, Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Dark Pit

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, for the better part of the last year, actually. So far, I haven’t been able to find the words to express what I feel and how it feels exactly, so here goes nothing…

I’m not a very positive person, I know that. I’m not quite a pessimist but I often expect disaster. I get dragged down by the little things a lot, too, and often see the bad side of things, even though I am actually aware, could actually explain the good side to you. Sometimes my mind deliberately tries to make something seem bad just so it can get upset about it and I often, very often, relate things back to me that aren’t about me or meant for me at all.

Now, with that said, I’m aware that I welcome a lot of people’s negativity with open arms. They probably feel like no one knows better what it feels like to be unreasonably upset or angry than I do. Or, at the very least, no one would have less reason to point out how unreasonable people are being than I do. So I do understand when people come to me to vent.

I know people always say they don’t rate their friends or assign certain labels to them. But let’s be honest here, we all know and use the term ‘best friend’ and we all turn to different people in different situations. As open minded as everyone wants to be these days, there’s no way one person could understand everything and show the desired reaction in every case, so after a while, we learn what we can or can’t bring up with our friends.

To learn this was hard for me. I wouldn’t say I necessarily accepted it. I fought it nail and teeth and eventually admitted defeat. I guess that’s the most appropriate way to describe it.

The point is, however, that I am aware of it now. And I usually don’t even get so upset about it anymore. Except for one particular detail.

I feel like I’m The Dark Pit of Negativity for people. The person they turn to when they need to vent or cry or get some negative thoughts out or even if they just need to recount a bad experience. Now don’t get me wrong, I love it that people trust me and confide in me and feel like they can get this out. We all have to pretend to be fine way too much and way too often and there’s just no place for sadness or depression in our world. But what really hurts is that people cry with me and laugh with others. It happens so often, it’s impossible that this is only in my head. Really close friends do this, and acquaintances do it as well. I know people I haven’t seen nor talked to in ages, but I still receive occasional messages from them when they need to vent.

By now it makes me feel like I’m carrying this huge mess of negative thoughts and sadness around with me, like I’m carrying their burden along with mine, and I’m not even getting the counter weight of happiness and laughter to compensate. I don’t think people do this on purpose. But I still hate being that person. I hate that when I truly want happiness and fun, I have to draw back and curl up within myself because that’s not what others want or need me for.

But it isn’t something that you can say to people. When they come to me and need help or advice or just someone to listen, I can’t exactly turn them away and point this out to them. It’d make me feel like the most selfish person alive and let’s face it, the picture I have of myself hardly needs to get any worse with yet more flaws to point out.

Categories: Me Myself and I | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

[Book Rawrview] “Eleanor & Park” or It’s Love, Make It Hurt

I know I already fangirled about Rainbow Rowell in my Book Rawrview of Fangirl, and appropriately so. I meant to do the same for Attachments but kept putting it off and now it seems too far away, so I’ll just say that I highly recommend reading that, too, although it is a book for adults.

Anyway, yesterday I finished another book by Rowell and, as my friend pointed out, I’ll probably never finish a book by her and not say ‘Oh my god, that was the best book I ever read!’ Eleanor & Park touched me on a level that I didn’t even know existed. What sticks out with Rowell’s writing for me is that I can relate to her characters so very, very well. A lot of readers may find them annoying and unnecessarily difficult, like they’re deliberately trying to see the negative side of things. What I see, though, is someone who would love to see another side but is trapped within their own fears and anxiety.

With Eleanor that sympathy reached another level, of course. So far, her story is the most tragic of all the characters in Rowell’s books so far. All of them encountered heartache, family problems, anxiety, self-loathing and a bunch of other personal tragedies. But with Eleanor, her life is so unfair, so full of negativity and both, physical and mental, abuse, it’s hard to read it without cussing every few pages. Her domestic situation is so bad that I don’t think most readers will even begin to understand what that’s like. I certainly don’t and my childhood wasn’t always peachy. And yet, I can relate to her because I know what it’s like to struggle with what was, what is and what will be.

And then there’s the slowly blossoming friendship and then love when she meets Park. It’s an almost violent opposite. When she’s home, Eleanor’s life is hell. When she’s with Park, everything seems bright and beautiful. And yet, Eleanor can’t help herself, she has to be doubtful and cynical about this new situation, won’t allow herself to accept it, let alone enjoy it.

Even though this book is for young adults and what Eleanor and Park share is essentially puppy love, it contains the most beautiful couple scene I’ve ever read. It’s simple, completely innocent and not even a key scene but it made me cry happy tears for them because it was just so, so, beautiful.

I also love that it’s set in the 80’s. Apart from the fact that the absence of the Internet and mobile phones makes communication for Eleanor and Park quite a lot more difficult, the era it’s set in doesn’t make much of a difference for the story. But I just love the 80’s soundtrack of this book (The Cure, The Smiths, Joy Division…) and I also enjoy the mental image of the two of them settled on the floor and listening to cassette tapes on a giant stereo.

This book is so simple but exciting and just beautiful. I wish I could pressure everyone I know into reading it.

Categories: Book Rawrviews, Bookworm | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angels In Everyone

Saturday was probably the worst day of my life. As bad days go, it started pretty unspectacular. I got up, I went to work, I got home, I called my mom who said she wanted to go to the mall, so I came along. I bought new shoes, then I wanted new pants, too. My mom said she felt hot, so I told her to take her coat off. Then she said the lights were weird and flimmering and I agreed, the artificial lights in the store were pretty annoying. Then she said she was feeling a bit dizzy, so I said she should sit down. Then she couldn’t walk anymore, so I helped her to take a seat.

And then it started. My own personal worst nightmare.

My mom started shaking and spazzing. True, actual spasms that her banging her head against the wall. At first I thought she was…I don’t even know what I was thinking. It was one of those surreal situations that usually happen in dreams which are so crazy that you’re actually calm because you know they can’t be true, so there must be a good explanation. But she wouldn’t stop and she couldn’t speak anymore, so I flipped.

The end of the story was that my mom’s blood sugar was so far down, she had some spasms. Someone called an ambulance and she was taken to hospital where, luckily, they got her blood sugar up again quite quickly and she was allowed to come home again with me. Which is good and a relief but the shock from seeing her like that just won’t wear off. When I got home on Saturday night, I was so tired, I couldn’t even think and fell asleep pretty easily. But since then, I’ve had a mini panic attack every night before I could go to sleep. Like sleeping was dangerous. Like sleeping means I won’t notice if something happens to her again. In all sincerety, I thought I was gonna lose my mom on Saturday. It isn’t even about her bringing it onto herself because she’s so careless that’s keeping my worry alive (well, that too), it’s just the simple fact that it’s something I cannot and will never control. Even if she takes care of herself – or anyone I care about, actually – there’s always so much that can happen or may already be happening that you cannot help. Awful things like cancer or accidents or a violent stranger. It’s always been a worry of mine but since Saturday, it seems so much more acute.

But anyway, although I needed to get that out, this entry wasn’t supposed to be about myself and how very much this affected me. What I originally intended to write about are angels. Not the religious ‘sent from God’ kind or any supernatural spirits or maybe even the spirits of the dead. No, I mean people that just happen to always be there when they’re needed. Actually, I mean two (or actually five) specific people.

Because when that thing happened with my mom, before the ambulance was even called, before I even realised what was going on, a young woman seemed to come out of nowhere. Not only did she immediately step in to help, she also happened to be a professional. In all the chaos, I didn’t get exactly what her job was but apparently she works with diabetes patients a lot and had seen such spasms many times before. She was there with her mother, sister and a young man who I think was her partner and they all knew so much about diabetes, too. And, which was even more amazing, they immediately took care of me, too. They took me aside and while the young woman helped my mom, her family talked to me and calmed me down and hugged me. I’ve never been hugged by a stranger before. Hell, most members of my family never hug me or anyone else! And these people were just…there. As if I was part of their family. I’ve never met anyone who was that kind. There wasn’t anything creepy about it at all and I didn’t even feel awkward. I think if they hadn’t been there, not only would my mom have hurt herself but I would have also gone bat shit crazy. I’m so, so mad at myself for not asking for their names or numbers, so I could have given them something back, even just a small gift. My mom already said we should look into finding them through Facebook or a radio station or something like that. Although I have a hard time believing they’re even real. They truly seemed like angels to me, the way they just popped up out of nowhere.

And, since those were four people, there’s still one missing that I already said deserves a mention here. Who’s actually not popped up out of nowhere but still is always exactly where I need her when I need her and that’s my very, very good friend Mel. While the ambulance guys worked on my mom, the helpers asked if there wasn’t someone I could or should call, a father, a sibling, any family member. And the first person I thought of was Mel. I have an uncle, I have two aunts…but she’s the first person I thought of when they asked me about my family. Because she’s always there. I called her as soon as I could and, as she has so often, she managed to get me grounded again. I really hope that everyone has a person like her in their life, whether it’s actual blood family or someone you just made your family, just someone that you can call anytime, for any big or small reason, who will be honest with you but still have your back either way. And boy, do I know I’m making that hard for her sometimes most of the time.

Categories: Me Myself and I | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Collateral Damage

The thing with depression is that it affects the people in your life more than it should. And more than you would think it does.

Everyone thinks that depression, emotions, everything related to how we feel is personal and an issue that only relates to ourselves, unless we choose to speak out it. And it’s so easy to keep believing that’s the case. But it isn’t. At least not with the people who are close to us.

I have…well, probably about 1.5 friends who know me well enough to know what I’m dealing with. One I’d say knows as well as anyone could who isn’t living inside my head. The other knows about half the story but I think she’s of the doubtful kind who often still believe that you can choose to be depressed or not. I may not be fair to her here now, I don’t know. I just often get the vibe that she thinks I’m being too negative and a drama queen and anyway, my life isn’t nearly miserable enough to justify any kind of mental disorders.

But even when someone knows what’s up, that only means they know the background, can maybe relate to a certain extent and well give you the benefit of doubt when you’re doing something that’s pretty shitty to do in a friendship. It doesn’t mean they don’t get affected by you doing it in the first place. They may be less harsh with you than they would be with others in the same situation, but they’re probably still hurt and upset.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone but when I’m having a bad time, I tend to forget about that. I’m also blind to the fact that I’m being unfair.

One of my main issues has always been and probably will always be the fear of being abandoned. I’ve never had therapy and never talked to a professional about it all (which I should do, really, really, really soon) but just by thinking this over and over again, I’ve come to the conclusion that, as with so many issues in my life, my asshole father is the root of that evil. He was the first person to abandon me, but in a painfully slow way that involved twisting and turning the dagger inside the wound so much the damage became irreversible. Before the whole thing ended, he managed to make me feel inadequat so often I had started to believe it. Always comparing me to my step siblings, always telling me the things I liked were silly and wrong. I am not saying being homo- / bi- / trans- / whateversexual is wrong at all but most people who are would probably tell you that it was a huge issue coming out to their families, that it was hard for them to feel accepted, and so on. Well, when my ex-step sister, now-step brother came out, he was immediately accepted, everyone embraced his decision and was so proud of him (rightfully so!) while still telling me that it was weird and wrong that I was obsessed with a band, never liked to go clubbing and was an introvert. That’s about as much acceptance as I got with him and his new family. I was so happy for him when he came out, he was actually the only member of that family I liked. But it still crushed me because it was the ultimate proof that my father wasn’t just uptight and judgemental and didn’t like things that were different and didn’t seem to fit into his world. He simply didn’t like me. I didn’t fit into his world. I’d never been really self-confident but it does something to you when a parent won’t accept you. It fucked with my mind so much that I started to feel like I was wrong about everything. And I still do.

In the past couple years, I started working on that a little. I started trying to figure out what I want and like without it being tainted by what I think others expect from me. Which is hard because now it adds the feeling of disappointing others by insisting on things just because I want them. But before that, I bent to the point of breaking just to please everyone, just to find that pleasing everyone is impossible and anyway, people don’t even like you if you don’t have a backbone at all.

But what stuck with me is that fear. I’m not usually a jealous person. I wouldn’t say I’m a team player or particularly good at interacting within a group of people, but I’m okay. I won’t sit there and hate everyone simultaneously. But on bad days, I can’t handle the thought of my friends leaving me for someone else. These other friends grow on me. After a while, I don’t care anymore, or not so much, although there will still be situations when it’s tough for me. But when a new person comes along, I’m gripped by panic and stuck in a place where I won’t know what to do. Like it only takes that one, perfect, super cool person for my friends to realise that I’ve been a place holder all along, that they’d only been waiting for the perfect friend to come into their life. And the thing is it’s impossible to deal with this issue without the friend in question noticing. They may not know what’s going on but they will now that something is going on. I know that my friends can tell when I’m acting different, getting comfortable inside my shell again, not letting them in. And they can also tell that it’s upsetting me to the point where depression hits and I become lethargic again. But it’s such a vicious cycle because I want to tell them and I don’t want to tell them at the same time. I want people to know they’re hurting me as much as the next person does. But at the same time I know they’re not actually doing anything, at least not on purpose. And then I feel so silly that I cannot even tell anyone about this issue without feeling like I’m just sharing the biggest, lamest, most ridiculous First World Problem with them. Like I’m so full of myself that I even think I have a right to be upset about this. Like it should even matter to anyone how I feel when they’re leaving me for someone else (even if they were). And then I just shut up and say nothing and things spiral out of control. Every single time.

I don’t know how to fix this. There are other things that used to be way worse and that I got better at just by being more in touch with myself, so I can see things coming and prevent them. With some things, I’ve found that it actually works when I sit down and tell myself over and over again that it’s ok, things will be fine. With other things, a change of scenery, some retail therapy or another distraction helps. It’s become quite rare that I get seriously depressed for a whole day or longer and have no power over myself at all. I remember times when I couldn’t get myself to do anything for days. So in that aspect, I’ve gotten a lot better. But there are still things, like this fear of being abandoned, that just won’t leave me.

And I’m so, so sorry for my friends who have to put up with this broken side of me so much.

Categories: Me Myself and I | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Art of Writing Letters

When I was about ten, maybe younger, I was crazy about horses and I would buy this horse magazine for girls religiously (or have my mom buy it, anyway). At some point, they started this category for readers to place penpal ads. Soon, this was the first page I’d check and read through all of those ads with a curious interest. Who were all these girls? Was one of them a future friend of mine? But I was too shy to write to any of them. First letters are always hard to write and those ads were barely more than a name and an address. What was I supposed to write about? What do people write in first letters? I had no idea, so I took what seemed like the easy way and placed an ad of my own. Maybe, if I was lucky, someone would find me remotely interesting, enough to write me a letter.

Well, that someone ended up being several dozen, maybe even a hundred. My ad got placed almost straight away and within a week or two, the letters started coming in. Several a day. I was ecstatic. And I wrote back, to every single one in the first few weeks. Until my mom had a serious talk with me because she kept buying stamps and stationary for me (of course, simple paper and envelopes wouldn’t do!) and it was becoming a little too much. So I had to sort out those I didn’t really feel suited me. I still promised myself I would reply to them all but that it would take longer. I don’t think I ever managed to do that, it was simply too much. But I did write to many of them. Needless to say, a lot of the exchanges ended very quickly, we were all young girls, after all. In the end, just one of them stayed with me for a few years.

Her name was Barbara and she lived in a town barely two hours from me. But back then, without the Internet or money of my own, it seemed like she was from an entirely different world. When you’re a child, especially one without Internet access, your social group starts and ends with school, neighbors and family. And here I was, corresponding with a girl who belonged to neither of those categories. I thought I was the shit. I carried her photograph with me and would whip it out and show it to everyone without so much as a prompt. I’d randomly drop her name in conversations. ‘Look at me, mere mortals, I know someone you don’t!” It was awesome.

But I think this excitement was the only thing that kept us going. We had close to nothing in common and with hindsight, our letters were dull, even for kids. So our friendship ended as soon as we changed schools and our lives became busier.

But still, Barbara deserves some credit because she sparked something in my life. Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed writing letters. I love the thrill of finding an envelope in my mailbox that does not have the logo of some company on it. I love seeing someone else’s handwriting. And I love learning about their lives, their likes, their joys and what keeps them going.

Problem is, I’ve had two great penpal friends over the years – and both of them vanished eventually. Well, one is still around but I fear we made the mistake of moving on to Facebook. That sort of killed the magic.

So I’m eager to find new pals. I post ads on penpal sites randomly. Nowadays, of course, I’m cautious enough not to just post my address. I leave my e-mail and see what happens and if things click between us, we exchange addresses. Only thing is, I’m older and wiser now – and also a lot pickier. Not necessarily in a mean way. But I’ve learned to see the signs for when something isn’t meant to be. If the first few exchanges are thick and slow and nothing seems to click between us, it becomes a drag all too quickly until one of us gives up. And the thing is, most of the e-mails you get through those sites are like that.

The latest ad I posted sounded almost harsh to me. The only Don’t’s I used to add were that you shouldn’t ask for money and – something I adopted from other ads – that I’d accept no contacts from African countries. I soon realized how silly that is. It’s true, a large percentage of mails from those countries are scam but you soon learn to sort those out anyway. They don’t all come from there and those who mean to send you crap will also ignore requests like that. Geez, this time I even received an e-mail from a 50 y.o. guy from the US who is openly seeking for a woman to marry, despite everything about my ad screaming penpal / friendship only. So ruling out entire countries’ population because of a few bad experiences seems cruel. But this time round I let them know straight away that I couldn’t handle mails that have close to zero content. No proper introduction, no start of a conversation, nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s frustrating to write your heart out in a mail or letter and then receive no reply. So I understand if people keep the first contact short. But there has to be something that shows me that (and why) they really want to get to know me. What about my ad seemed interesting enough for them to write me? What do we have in common? What don’t we have in common but they’d like to share with me anyway? Honestly, I felt a bit bitchy adding those parts to the ad but I received a few genuinely nice replies that told me it was exactly that what made them want to reach out to me. But, quite frustratingly, I’m still receiving empty word mails, too. Which I ignore nowadays. It may be disappointing for those people but then again, how disappointed can you be when you receive no reply to a mail that you whipped out within thirty seconds – and probably sent in the exact same wording to a dozen others?

What’s also frustrating is that so many people on penpal sites don’t even seem to be looking for penpals. Or even e-pals. I keep getting asked for some messenger or Skype ID, or even my mobile number, so we can text. How about no? I don’t mean to be stuck up or mean but text messages annoy me. No, that’s not true. I have some friends with whom I am constantly texting. But those are real life friends who I see every few days. It’s just different. And I can’t bear the thought of being bugged by constant chat messages from a bunch of people whenever I am online or even trying to get some work done on my computer. And, perhaps the most important argument here, I wouldn’t be posting an ad on a penpal website if I was looking for a chat. IRC is still a thing. You can still look for people through most messengers. If I wanted that, there’d be so many other ways of finding people. And am I gonna go on video chat with a stranger? Hell to the no! I can count the number of times I’ve had those with friends on the fingers of one hand. Video chats are a modern plague. It’s like a phone call but you have to be decently dressed, sit in one place or hold your phone or tablet in an awkward angle all the time and you can’t pick your nose or paint your toe nails or even just silently roll your eyes at something the other person says. No!!! When I get home, I put on my most hideous comfy clothes, take my bra off, wear my hair in ridiculous buns and scrub my makeup off. Often I walk around with a face mask for half an hour. Video chatting is like letting someone watch you doing stuff that people used to pretend they don’t do. Ever. What’s wrong with this picture? And why, oh why, would you ask a stranger for that? What’s the secret here?

Someone write me a good old-fashioned letter already!

Categories: What's In My Mailbox | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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