Monday, May 1, 2017

And then "boom"... I was in love!

I try never to look at how people look or what they do. Their mannerisms and appearance are a product of education or DNA. Chances are that any of these factors have no influence on whether this person is "for me". I keep talking about those first two minutes when you first meet a person when you decide whether they deserve a chance or not. If they're good looking, the chance appears more likely. If they smile, you're more likely to want to befriend them. And if they caught a bad day, we may walk away from them forever because we decided they suck although they could have ended up our best friend. This behavior is inevitable but foolish. I try to stay away from it. Recently I have made experiences helping me to really understand how.

During my time at Amazon so far, I have made the first contact with most of my colleague over the phone. I was interviewed off-site and then started the position in a different office from the one I am now based in. Hence, my first 2 mins with most of my colleagues were devoid of evaluations of their appearance, whether they smiled at me politely or if they possibly come off as rude. All I heard was a voice, coincidentally the medium I now work on creating. But: the judgment still had to be made. The first one I met in my interview had a beautiful voice. I suppose a voice like that makes one more appealing to people who talk to them but without having seen the guy, I felt good. I thought we hit it off. It took another few weeks until I actually met him but I did realize this was probably the first time I felt like I hit it off with a person I hadn't even seen yet. Also helped that he was offering me a job...

All my other colleagues then proceeded to introduce themselves to me in phone calls or an email. Now I had words in front of me on which I was to judge whether I would "like" these people. Lord knows I like way too many people so it wasn't a question of whether I would befriend them or not because I knew I would anyways, but who these people were without knowing. In these cases, sharpening the instincts is easier because appearances and mannerisms don't cloud the judgment. I now had to go with the gut, assess whether that eye inside saw something in these people. If my inner eye doesn't see anything that is far from being a bad thing. I just happen to believe that two awesome people won't just naturally click because they're awesome. Same goes for bad people. What's important is that it clicks, and if it does or not has nothing to do with appearance and mannerism but merely the ability of person A to flip the switch to person B. If they can, one knows within 2 minutes.

The day I properly met the guy in high school I would later hold on to for 11 years was not the first time I had seen him. He had in fact been sitting next to me in 'Government' and despite his bright orange jacket I had not "seen" him. The first time he spoke to me, that was the first instance of "Boom" I remember. It wasn't a romantic reaction then, but I just thought he was awesome. He wasn't awesome; in fact, he was sorta geeky, not in a good way. It got worse from there, eventually becoming very hurtful, and people scratched their heads left right and center why I think this guy was worth it. But he was. To me. Probably not very many others. I have yet to find an explanation. Another time, I was working with a dude who was in a foul mood when I first saw him. His pissed off attitude ruined most people's first impression; he seemed to be a negative, miserable dude. I didn't even talk to him but somehow thought he'd be cool. No idea why. Four months later, we were put on a team, properly meeting, and hit it off big time. The inner eye saw it; I refuse to believe it was the upside down smile it saw... 

In a way, I'm saying there is love at first sight, only that it's not "love" but something we see in some people and fail to see in others. I have talented, good-looking, awesome men around me, and I'm not in love with them. Why? Lord knows. Meanwhile, I had irrational crushes on people "far below my league" or who don't really suit me. All because certain radars inside of me picked up their frequency. And of course, this applies to female connections as well. Miriam, Claire, Anna and Lorna, my best female friends I wasn't born with, were instant connections, I dug them after two minutes if that. I booked a holiday with Anna after knowing her for less than 20 minutes. I knew we'd be friends. I can't even explain to myself why I like the people I like and I don't want to either. It's exciting to meet people and watch it happening when it does, it just usually doesn't. And then, when it does, it's easy to make that feeling "love" because as a foundation chemistry works preeeetttty well...

In the last few weeks that I have, once again, been unleashed on a new city where I don't know very many people, I could see the progress I've made. I ripped myself of tools of assessment and, cheesily speaking, let the heart see. That's also why online dating can be a tool, but never the reason. It's "boom" or no boom, and exterior things have no impact on that. I am craving human friendships (and dog friendships, too) and good connections as much as the next girl does so it is hard for me to accept that not everyone will automatically be a great addition, even if they're great people altogether; it's inevitable, though. This search for the "right" people rather than the "best" people is tiring and determines whether this Cambridge thing will become a success or not. That causes pressure and pressure doesn't help. It is a relief, however, to know that timing, mood and appearances will not affect a connection; they just affect the outcome of where that connection could go... 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why I Feel Brexit Is Taking My "Home" Away From Me

An entire year I dedicated to writing stories about refugees. I have no fight to fight with refugees being assimilated in my or other countries, and for a person (without a heart) looking on from afar it would be hard to gather why I'd bother at all. To be honest, I don't really know myself. Sure, I'd call myself a compassionate person that has an emotional reaction to watching scenes from Aleppo but why do I care about foreigners coming to Europe, feeling welcome, getting the same opportunities as me, when even an American wouldn't be able to? We're all human, after all. Why does one count more than the other? I've always known the answer to these questions, and most people in my generation do, too. As of this year, I have one more: I actually lived in a place that doesn't like foreigners... as a foreigner.


Is this really how we wanna see things?

You might have an immediate reaction to what I just said. Frankly, if you don't, that's fucked up. I'm a white girl, educated, no record, and interested in actually taking part in this society, including its values. Well, yeah! That much is true. Me as a German and them as the English does not make a difference if you look at our hobbies: beer and football. We also all like Jesus, I guess. We also all hate ISIS. No biggie then, I'm welcome. Even if I am, that's not what it feels like. I have not been disrespected as a foreigner in this country even once, including the four magical years I spent in the union's other gem, Scotland. Yet, not even a year ago, the people of this country voted for the doors to shut. I won't accept any other explanation. Brexit is nothing, and I mean it, nothing but a shutting of a door. Unfortunately, I feel like I'm on the other side.

I love the UK, have been nothing but happy and fortunate here but I cannot shake the feeling of no longer being welcome to try here. It's easy enough to be said by a German whose alternative is going back to possibly the best-shaped country out there but I see myself as a foreigner, not a German here. The day Brexit voters shut the doors for foreigners from Eastern Europe and the Middle East because they came to exploit them is the day I perceived the door to be shut for me, too. The choice they made, for whatever reason, was to stop cooperation. Any decision that goes hand in hand with stopping cooperation would, for me, be out of the question. But not for the majority of England and Wales. At that moment, I had no intention of coming back to the UK, but then I did, thinking that it'd be interesting to be a part of the change that's inevitably coming. Yeah, not so fun...

Maybe it really is the fact that I still perceive myself, and most likely always will, as an EU citizen before anything else, and for the longest time I was, therefore, "home" in this country. It's not quite as dramatic as being French in Alsace-Lorraine and then suddenly, well, you're not anymore. But that is what it is: my home decided it no longer wants to have me. Rejection of any kind is not a nice feeling but the people around me, for whatever reason, have decided I am in fact wrong to call this place home. It's home to the British, not me. Let's not even get into the blog post that is inevitably coming about why I am not British. I am German, I like being German, and as of now, that's what I will be here because clearly, EU citizenship means nothing to people here. It still does to me.

It's hard to predict the future. It always was, but now more so than ever. I don't know where I, personally, will be in the next few years. Come Brexit, I might not even be able to stay in the UK. However, it is hard to believe that if children are ever going to be part of my future, I would like for them to grow up here. I always thought this was the country I would like to let the roots grow a little bit, but I cannot imagine this political situation to be a sustainable environment for the child I would like to raise, nevermind the next government for me to enjoy myself. I still believe in the EU and its values, and I would want my child to grow up to be as proud of the amazing work that's coming out of that institution as I am. For many people, it is possible to live in a country that does not politically reflect who they are. For me, it is not.

Scotland, my favorite country, might actually try again to be part of the EU, and from my experience, it doesn't actually mean that much to people. If Germany left the EU, I would not accept it. I would rather be part of the EU than a union that has brought me nothing but oppression for centuries. The fact that Scots think political representation is secondary to economic prosperity is understandable but, ultimately, an opinion I don't share. If Scotland became independent and was applying to come "home" to us, I would be personally involved, I vow it. There is a place where we can sit together and make multilateral decisions. They are obviously not always 100% as good as a unilateral decision but have we never learned anything from John Nash: "let's do what's best for us AND the group" because we benefit if others do, too. Where has this gone? It's no longer here, and I maybe, neither will I come 2019. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I Would Walk 500 Miles... And Not Regret It!

Sometimes effort and success are not even slightly connected. Sometimes we try for months, with no success, and the feeling of "it's just not meant to be" creeps up. Other times, we don't try and are given ten times more than what we expected to be possible. My high school BFF told me on the phone a few weeks after I left the US that he'd fallen in love a girl he didn't even know three weeks earlier - another three months later, they had married. "When you know, you know", they said back then. Their search wasn't long, neither of them tried very hard, but a resulting marriage was absolutely unavoidable. They also happen to be the perfect couple, so everything looks like they just lucked out. So the impression I get is that it doesn't really matter how long that search takes; some things just sort of work out. Knowing all this, I sometimes wonder why people even try...

When I talk about trying, I don't just mean relationships. Effort, as a term, is getting more and more negative in connotation, and I'm starting to believe it might not be a good thing anymore. I am a true believer in things being easy if they're right, and right does not mean "The One", but right... correct... good to exist. When I try to befriend somebody, I'd say that's a pretty good thing. The same goes for giving someone a call I want to speak to. Or working hard on an assignment. Making a difference. Giving someone flowers. There are a lot of examples of putting effort into somebody or something and what I find in most cases is that it's not just a waste of time, it's also perceived as a bad thing. I'm happy to talk about this more.

I try hard with people, jobs and skills. I try to improve, try to be nice, try to communicate, and in the end, I'm tired and end up with nearly the same result I would have ended up with not trying. Putting effort into people, trying to make them feel good or anything of that sort isn't a waste; what I mean is that when something is right, that effort isn't necessary. I'm trying to befriend people in a new city right now and I'm happy to make the effort. Even if I don't end up friends with everyone, I enjoy being nice, trying to get to know people, it's not unnecessary.  Recently I've had the thought repeatedly when a co-worker was slagging me for trying to befriend him. He's my co-worker, like I'm the only one benefitting, right? My experience when doing this in the past, though, was that when I had good chemistry with people, friendship was a natural consequence of me being myself. I talked to most of my close friends for less than five minutes before knowing they'd actually be my friends. "When you know, you know". Not just with people you may marry...

Making an effort with people is fun to me and I'll never not try, yet, I need to abandon the thought in my head that sometimes things are worth the fight. Those who want me in their lives have my number, I'd never not pick up. That's the formula and everyone knows it. The inspirational quote that tells us not to fight for someone who's not worth it is incorrect; it's not wrong to do that, it just shouldn't be needed. Because those things that are comfortable, right and "meant to be" will be easy. I don't have to convince anybody to be with or around me. The door is open, most of the times all it takes is picking up the phone or answering my call. People who are trying to befriend me are lucky because I am happy to be the person who calls. Frankly, if I wasn't, some of my best friends wouldn't be in my life, and not because they don't want to be but because too many people think they're too occupied to invest effort into people...

Conor and Philipp, my two best friends of the opposite sex, have rarely ever called me. I love them, but they forget me. Oh well, two choices: I could be upset and never call them again, hence lose them, or suck it up. So I call them. When they answer though, I know they are as happy about talking to me as I am about talking to them. My effort is appreciated, and there goes that, we continue to be friends even after a decade. Being friends with these boys is super easy, it never seems hard, and I genuinely just enjoy it because I know they feel the same about it. The complete opposite of that is making an effort and getting nothing in return: feeling like the effort isn't even appreciated. I don't want to do that anymore, but I will. And trust me, trying hard for someone, even making myself look stupid just to give people and chances a last ditch effort, and getting nothing in return, is really fucking hard and disappointing. When I try, even when it seems too late, and I don't get a response (or even worse), even a tough person like me is feeling a little fragile about that. It's not nice...

I'm pretty happy to walk 500 miles but let's face it, a mile should do it... 13 at the very most!

I know I can't force stuff (didn't always know that... whoops!) but trying is a good thing. Whether, as a result to my effort, friendship or an opportunity or love blossoms, however, I have absolutely no power over. Heck, I even ended up with the job I thought I had no shot with and hence tried much less for than the other ones. I tried hard for people in the past with no success and I ended up with people I didn't try for. There is no logic to this equation so really putting in an effort is just a luxury I have and enjoy doing. And if someone would like to do the same for me, they're welcome to. The truth is, as much as i would like to tell people publicly here that I am done giving people the opportunity to reciprocate my effort or trying to make something happen that clearly isn't going to, I just don't feel like that is the right way. Duh, I will try texting someone once or twice, if they don't respond I'll get the message, but I am proud to be a person who appreciates and tries for people, chances and changes. And in the end I feel like I won't regret it. I tried. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How Social Media Has NOT Ruined Us

"Before we had Facebook and Snapchat, we actually talked to people". Ergh, this sentence makes me mad. Some people are stuck between being a millennial and a baby boomer, and it's not a great place to be. For some reason, the technological revolution that's been going on has people thinking that communication in person seems to no longer be possible. Back in the day, they say, it was playing outside, not the iPad. Or it was asking a girl out on a date instead of sending her a dick pic. I am from a generation that was fortunate to grow up right between the two, and so I played outside and have an iPad, went on actual dates and used a camera to "sext" (I just really like the word, can't say I'm an expert there). One thing is for sure: social media has definitely not destroyed my life. And definitely not my relationships.

Right now, I live in a city I know nobody in. If I only went by conventional ways, I'd know my three workmates and six flatmates. Instead, I was set up through Facebook with a girl my friend from Cairo knows, met a few people via Couchsurfing, found out that my actual former flatmate from Egypt lives in the same city, spend the weekends with friends I have from five different places in London and browse Instagram, keeping an eye on who is in London when so I can see them. Bottom line: in six weeks I was never alone! If I didn't glue myself to my cell phone I simply wouldn't know these people, or if they're here. Hence, there would be no communication. But social media hasn't just made it easy for me to make friends, it also allows me to stay friends. I haven't spoken to my good friends in California in years, but I always know what's up. There's no way I'd have more than two friends if I had to speak to them in person to stay connected since living in five countries over the past decade made that one kinda hard...

Of course, our network has become a bubble, and not a day goes by on which that's not being criticized. That argument is so lame I wonder how it causes so much friction. I don't hang out with Tories in my free time in person either, and I certainly don't hang out with Nazis. What I see on my news feed is as much a representation of the things I want to see as the life I have built around me in person. In many ways, the internet even allows me to see the lives of others I'd never be interested in, giving me insights about people I know nothing about. Tories, for example. I couldn't care less about befriending a pro-life creationist who dislikes Muslims, but since they're on Twitter, sharing away, I may get a bit of information on how they turned out to be such crappy people. There's no way I'd pursue that in person. I see the news that makes people I appreciate open their eyes, and in real life, I'd do the same; trust my friends' judgment, exchanging what I think.

My friendships and careers have very visibly benefitted, and dating-wise we're probably nearing a billion Tinder babies soon. I mean, who even meets people in a conventional way anymore? A guy these days is 10 less likely to talk to a girl at a bar. Instead, he is 100 more likely to just swipe his phone and sees if she's in the radius. The alternative would be to just not talk anymore because we all know, men these days are pussies. Girls are no better. They portray themselves on social media as if the platform was the nectar that calls for the bees. It's today's calling card. I use it as an advantage, but only because I'm not scared to admit it. Times have changed, I go with it. I try to see it as an additional way to get in touch. The one and only time someone was confident enough to call me, and even more shocking, express that he liked me, I made him mine for two years. So although he is lame on social media and goes about communication in the "old-fashioned", clearly more authentic way, it all started with a friend request. It also allowed for us to continue speaking after I had left the country, which happened to all my human relationships at some point.

The only time social media was bad to me was when I learned of various infidelities or betrayals because people are sometimes just a bit too stupid to use it, or simply don't care. I was once in a sorta kinda relationship with a guy abroad, and suddenly there was this picture of him and a girl at a party, very visibly in love with him. The moment I saw that photo, I know me and him were over. He went on to date her and still is, so that turned out ok. Not so much another time, when another guy tried to "get me back", also abroad, via Facebook, telling me "the other girl means nothing and is sooo lame!" Next day, oh look, they're on a holiday together, checking out the sights, she took 10.000 selfies of them together. When you realize you're being shat on via social media, it would be nicer to just not being able to see what your boys are up to. Then again, if it hadn't been for Facebook I wouldn't have dated either one in the first place because both weren't man enough for anything but this nonsensical attempt at human interaction via social media, meaning other than a Facebook message they produced nothing of interest, in some cases for 12 years...

As a result, I suppose not everyone has matured with the new ways of communication. I remember when the guy I just mentioned called me after we had kissed the first time, on my phone, not drunk, and I felt like that was a major breakthrough. It really shouldn't be like that. I recently called my friend to meet him for lunch. American, very busy, usually abroad. He actually didn't pick up at first, then said "wow, calling, yeah, nobody does that anymore". Having said that, I don't even remember the last time someone answered my call on first attempt. I also had that thought last week when I realized that the other guy I just mentioned literally never spoke unless it was in a message he typed on his phone. That is obviously the sad downside: some people just didn't develop the necessary balls you need to face people, like literally face them. It was too easy to get away with this pseudo-communication that might be enough to stay in touch, but definitely not to stay connected. In retrospect, I don't feel like I knew either of these above-mentioned ex-lovers because I seldom ever spoke to them, like literally spoke. And while communication is easy, and I like writing, nothing transmits feelings like a spoken word, like literally spoken.

Times have changed, and we can whine about it or use it as an advantage. I think I'm achieving the latter quite well, using my social media platforms as political platforms as well as a personal promotion tool. Barely anyone speaks to me in person but I have a way to update them on my life, my views and my progress anyways. And if they like me, they'll consume it. If they like it a lot, they can even engage with it. With people being busier, living further apart and, also, caring less, that is simply the reality we are working with, and social media is the only weapon to tackle it with. So I do. And I try, just as much as I do in person, to transmit the feeling of caring, of appreciating and of pursuing a human relationship. What needs to change is not the tool but the willingness of people to use it. Even Facebook does calls, even Instagram allows you to follow. It is then up to the person behind the screen to make an effort with people. Just like in real life. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Happy Brexit: A Divorce Nobody Should Want

A good table to sit on...
"There is no reason to pretend this is a happy day", Donald Tusk said when receiving a letter from Theresa May triggering Article 50. "We already miss you." Truer words have never been spoken. Today has been one of the most awkward days of my life. I live in the UK, yet I have never felt less connected to this country than today. I will be directly affected by this ridiculously foolish decision its people made in June, but let's not wallow in the fact this was, objectively, a disaster. The will of the people, no matter how stupid, has directed democracy, and it's democracy we believe in, so I may complain but I can't object: Brexit needs to happen. At the same time, this political event is by far the saddest one I've witnessed in my lifetime and frankly, I still can't believe it's happening.

I am a guest in this country and, just like they wanted me to love Egypt in Egypt, or love America in America, I will not agree with its decisions because of the status I have as a guest. This decision is wrong, and even as a bearer of the fruits this country brings to its citizens I cannot help but to deeply object with the one that was made here. In Egypt, I was alienated for my criticism of the country. People believed, since I had such a good life there, I shouldn't talk ill. What I thought about that attitude I can only summarize in holding up one finger, a particular one. This time it won't be different, especially since it's my status as a guest that is at risk here, and I am therefore not just somebody who is freeloading on the benefits but someone who has clearly been told by the people who feel entitled to the fruits I'm bearing here that I am no longer welcome.

Brexit is directly affecting us. As a German, I can probably relax because this uniquely ridiculous decision will probably not cost us much. The people who voted for it are most likely going to suffer the most, next to the ones who didn't vote that way but have to suffer the consequences for their less intelligent fellow countrymen. But as a German in the UK, I am no longer safe from the curse of Brexit. More so than the fear of not being able to stay it's the feeling of not being wanted that makes today so difficult. I live in a country, ultimately, that does not appreciate my contribution to its success. Not mine or anyone else's, except of those who were born here and therefore deserve the accolade of being called British. Sure, the British just wanted to be governed by their own again, but if you accepted that our mutual understanding in Europe and cooperation was something of value, we would not be sad today.

There is no other reason for Brexit other than a majority perceiving that the bad coming out of an organization founded upon the belief that two (or 27) is better than one outweighs the good. To be of that opinion is ludicrous to me. It's a bad lesson to send to our children and it's a less advantageous world for them to grow up in, too. Goodbye free education in continental Europe, British kids. Goodbye waking up in Berlin on a random night out in London, British adolescence. Goodbye shopping for the nicest goods and foods in a strong, single market, British adults. And goodbye expanding your businesses to new shores, British companies. So many people will live a lesser life because of the (wrong) perception of a few too many that Brussels is imposing on their lives, refugees are stealing their jobs and /or the money paid for universal care in a continent looking out for each other is money badly spent. It's a shame. And today, it's reality.

Out of all the things that happened in this past year that I never thought would, this one is by far the most shocking. I'm just hoping that today is not the beginning of a historical period because if today is the first step, the path we are on is one I would not like to pursue. Let us see it as an epic reminder. And I hope that the people in my own country never want to make our guests feel like I feel here: not welcome. Nobody around me voted for Brexit and I'm pretty sure they're not pissed I'm here but if a country, a whole country, has decided to say "nay" to your country's effort to shake their hand, it simply doesn't feel like friendship. And idealism is what I thought the commitment was to. After somebody leaves your house when you invite them over on that bad of a note, you won't like the next time you're over at their house either. I will miss them in our union, I regret their decision, but I'd rather see this as a warning sign that we have to work harder for our existing friendships because offering that hand is not all there is to be done; it also has to be accepted.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Schulz Wars: Episode 2017 - A New Hope

It seems like it was only yesterday (mainly because it pretty much was) when the whole world was moaning about the choice the Americans were facing in November 2016. Clinton, oh my God, they said. She is a liar and an immoral woman. And oh yeah, she is a woman. A woman who has hormones. Oh God, no, please not that woman. But the alternative wasn't much better, was it? The alternative was an orange monster that continues to be perceived as such, only now he brings his whole family and staff. It was, even then, a horrible choice. The choice between the plague and cholera. About a year later, my own country has to make a choice between a man and a woman. The choice there is really hard as well but for the complete opposite reason: it's super tough to decide who is actually more awesome.

None of that should matter because in Germany we elect a party, and that's the way it should be. Whoever leads that party shouldn't really matter, but it does. In Germany, we will end up with either our veteran badass lady Angela Merkel, head of the Conservative Party, or newcomer in Germany, EU pimp and hope of anyone below 50 to maybe have a future that includes safety and money, Martin Schulz, soon-to-be head of the Social Democrats. I'm a party member of the latter, so my choice, quite frankly, was made before Martin, as I get to call him as a pretentious party comrade, entered the scene. Before I go into detail, again, how Martin Schulz makes my political heart skip a beat, I have to say though: to know that if we lose, Angela Merkel is the consolation prize, is a wonderful feeling in a political world that is currently engulfed in Orban, Wilders and LePen-induced darkness.

I'd never vote for Angela Merkel because she simply didn't choose the right party for me to tick her box, but that lady has had some glorious moments. Germany is in good shape and she represented us well. For me, the current prosperity is the last excuse her party had for neglecting the people, focusing on the numbers. Yes, our numbers are great, the whole world envies that. We wear nice things, we have great health care and go on holiday on the entire planet. And then there are those you don't see in restaurants, at the movies, taking part in mine and your circle. We don't see them because they simply can't afford to play like we play. They're invisible because their welfare checks barely buy them a dignified life, as we like to call it. And we don't wanna see them either, otherwise the Conservative party wouldn't have hauled in 49% in the last election. These people are neither less hard-working nor less intelligent as us, the lucky, privileged masses. They're just simply not as lucky.

Let's pass the mic to Martin Schulz at this point. He talks about justice, and that whatever is going on in Germany right now is unjust. Of course those who were born to a middle class or above family, got to go to the best schools for free, then studied finance or medicine (again, for free!) would have difficulties relating to those Martin Schulz is encouraging to ask for more justice. When everything is free and we're told all the time we are all equal, the impression arises that those in the council block around the corner had the same chance as I, a woman with two Masters and a fancy job abroad. I worked hard, maybe they didn't. Perceiving injustice is really hard because it requires people to question whether they're right or not. Opinions are a product of personality; the facts, however, are different. We aren't equal, and luck still plays a much bigger role than it should. If what we truly desire is equality for everyone, we still have a big chunk of injustice to clean up, even though the whole world buys our cars and our household is flourishing.

Martin Schulz might know a little bit more about that than most people. I hear in almost every talk show that people are complaining about the lack of manifesto: what does Schulz really want? I haven't read a manifesto, but I know the answer. How? Because the an has been my hero for four years, I've had the privilege to hear him and speak to him on many occasions. Martin Schulz has been the subject of many of my blogs because to me, he is what Michael Jackson is to music and Cristiano is to football: so good at what they do that it's inconceivable they would ever do something else. Martin Schulz has the talents of a politician, namely the presence and skill of a great speaker as well as the ability to really encourage people to care about issues. Many politicians have made it big with these talents without having great convictions, but Martin Schulz has stood for the end to youth unemployment, right-wing populism and that nasty ailing of a continent in perfect health for years as the one of the greatest in Europe for years, and now we have a chance to let him steer our ship.

Social democrats are failing all over the place, and my personal explanation is that they are simply closing their eyes from the fact that they are the party of those in the middle, still working, still trying, and that many people have lost touch to these realities. How do I know? A middle class nation interested in fairness wouldn't call for Angela Merkel to be ousted based on her letting refugees in the country. Social democrats in Germany have rightfully identified we can't save every single life, but we can try a lot harder than the other countries in our union. Angela Merkel knows that, but her party and her electorate do not. And lest we forget, we elect a party. It seems that Angela Merkel is the perfect choice as a person, just like Kohl was all these years being the man that reunited us all. But when all we really have left to really FIX, as in completely mend, is people desperately watching all Germans get richer while they are being left behind, then it's time for change. With all of Europe turning more right, hence less inclusive and less understanding of those who were not born with their unaware privilege, those who are aware need to start speaking a little louder.

What sort of completely misinformed individual would perceive refugees, terrorism, or even more ridiculous, "the unknown" of globalization as the biggest threat in Germany? The rest of Europe is not Germany. We should know better! We have learned, we don't like ignorance, we try harder to remember and are truthful to ourselves. As a result, we can really, truly be a beacon for Europe. It's our time to show that our hard work as a nation has made us a compassionate people that looks out for everyone, not just ourselves. Not like Americans. Better! We don't need to save the EU because if it does fail, we lose the least. The question is, though: do we still want to? I do. I'm not poor, disadvantaged or depending on the single market. Hell, I live in Brexitland, it's too late for me. In the end, you could probably argue my life won't change if Merkel or Schulz win. What would change is our message to the world: One on inclusion and response to insanity such as Brexit. The only thing I want Schulz for Germany for is to feel like we got the chance to show we care about those who were forgotten or are about to be kicked to the curb and we took it. More than ever, I want to vote for the candidate that loves Europe as much as I do. I won't ever be able to repay those suckers in Brussels for everything they've done for me, but I can vote for their mate Martin who's worked hard for me in the past two decades. I personally can't wait for it...


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cambridge Now: You Only Get One First Impression


I always said these partially hideous blog posts of mine are really some sort of diary; just an image of a moment. A moment I felt, a moment I experienced, a moment that changed my life. For that picture I'm painting I'm just ditching the brush and use words as colors instead. Sometimes more successfully than other times. Reading these things back makes me cringe 99% of the time, yet, at some point in my life that's apparently how I felt. And now, since I moved to a new place for the xth time in my life, I need to capture the moment. I have to explain to future me how I felt about the first couple of weeks in my new home because I don't know yet how long it will be home. And I don't know if one day that picture I'm painting today will be outdated, its colors faded or maybe even destroyed. But even a picture that becomes valuable only as time passes is a picture worth painting.

If the last few weeks were colors, they'd be orange, yellow and green. These positive colors aren't chosen by coincidence, and unlike most times they aren't merely a reflection of the weather. My start in Cambridge has been so positive that the prospect of these colors turning to the darker shades at least feels unlikely. Unlike other times this move didn't come at the end of a miserable time where I was desperate for the new. And yet new, with just the right amount of old, is what I got. And more. I'm now back on an island I once called home, however, other than the repulsive quality of wine and the occasional cottage little reminds me of Scotland. The English really do feel like a sufficiently different set, but I haven't decided in what sense yet.

To assume that I'm in the country I know best is incorrect. Let's sum up my life in scotland. There are a few staple Scottish things that made my world go round: identifying bars with one pound drinks, sausage rolls from Gregg's, scanning home bargains and pound land for all living expenses, keeping indoors, baaaanter and, of course, Scots, the best countrymen a country could have. Where is all this in England? I quite literally haven't had, nor do I expect to find, a single item priced one pound even in the shadiest of pubs, there is only one Gregg's in this entire city, conveniently right next to the only poundland, and I've never seen a city more capable of attracting even the nerdiest computer geek outside because the weather is amazing and the scenery breathtaking. Of course I'm also an active, less alcoholic woman today and simply wouldn't be looking for that anymore. Still, I'm not "home"; I'm in a new place.

That leaves the only comparison to be left making: Haggis vs Yorkshire Pie, whiskey vs gin, Mary vs Elizabeth. I'm talking about the Scots vs the English. I have been sufficiently indoctrinated to prefer the Scottish and I have now been challenged. The prospect of watching the Six Nations game between the two in England stressed me out enough to seek refuge in Germany over the weekend and at least be surrounded by three Scots at a German pub. The heart is with Scotland and likely always will be. But I live in England now and I'm not Scottish, do as a result, I have no reason to hate. My first impression has of course been affected by a deep disdain for the English in my circle for four years, yet I've seldom been received in a country better than here. Then again, we're talking about a highly personal picture here and I,  as is commonly known, am just lucky. I meet great people, it's my thing.

I started out my mission "moving abroad attempt #370" by staying with a work mate for a few days who offered for me to crash without having met me. Awesome! I also quickly found out that the people around me at my job and in my house at the very least don't suck either. Awesome! Finally, I came to realize I have moved to the prettiest place this country probably has. It is awesome! I now have a job I enjoy, a space to call my own, and am surrounded by beauty which are, no joke, realities I didn't think I'd ever enjoy simultaneously. I don't have a dog yet so to say everything is perfect would be a straight out lie; at the same time, the potential for this to turn into an epic success, a job I will continue to be challenged by, a place I can find friends and loved ones (and maybe even get a dog) has never been higher. Now this picture of enthusiasm and positivity may fade to grey, but just like a picture only time will reveal the true value of this message. All I care about right now is that I'm doing the best I can to prevent it from being a bomb, and the color kit I'm working with looks promising...