December 29, 2013

new year, new life.

everybody still alive after too so much family time? how many kilos have you gained?
after my attempt to eat little to no wheat for the last few weeks, i must admit that my proudest achievement was not only baking my very first brioche, but eating the whole damn thing too. of course shared with the siblings, but there was enough to go around.
now i am at my mum's and have enough time and quietness to contemplate the next, the last few months in cape town and the time after. i was more than thrilled to get a flight to bangkok from my dad for christmas and jumped straight into planning a nice little thailand trip when my mum gave me the book das grosse los. a german journalist wins euro 500 000 at who wants to be a millionaire and decides to travel for a year, the way i think travelling should be done: living in a foreign city for one month each. her trip starts in sydney and immediately i am not only hooked on the book, but a little voice in my head starts to complain stupid trip you have planned, 3 weeks thailand – phew, why can 
never live in sydney for a month? and buenos aires? hello!! and and and...
the travellers amongst you, will understand where i am coming from. in the end or at least right now it is not where i will go or for how long. it is about going. and leaving. and arriving. about finally moving again after feeling stuck for so long.
the book starts with the famous mark twain quote: in 20 years you won't regret the things you did, but the things you didn't do. and that shall be my motto for 2014. what is yours?

  1. the masterpiece.
  2. orchids and angels. i was mesmerized by this orchid on my dad's window sill. its abundance reminded me of the orchids in thailand and made such a beautiful foreign contrast to our old, little choir angels.
  3. sunrise porn brought to you by germany.
  4. i had to open a bottle of pink bubbly, because i needed a picture of bubbly for another story. it wasn't just for fun, it was work bubbly. but would have been a waste not to drink it afterwards.
  5. a not so pretty part of town, but the blue little house used to be home to the best second hand shop in the world. the owner frau knote used to have an attic full of chanel gowns, baccarat vases, and courrèges jerseys. the one thing i will truly miss from my stolen suitcase is a little blazer jacket i bought from her and wore every day for almost a year.
  6. christmas market the day after.   

December 21, 2013

happy new year came early.

hello, germany! i have arrived. after all the drama yesterday, 2 double g&ts, 11 hours on a plane, and finally watching kevin, home alone, i am in munich. tired, but with a freshly washed face, so you could call me sort of fit. i have also stopped going through my lost suitcase in my mind, recalling what was in there so i can mourn what i have lost. there is really no point to it. the worst part is my little flat. that flat that always felt like a safe haven to me, is no more and i think that is the worst. but i shall deal with it when i get back. now is christmas.

hello, anybody awake yet? anyone except for the vietnamese baby on the table next to me who just slid of the chair when his mum wasn't watching and who hit his head on the table in the process and is now crying like there is no tomorrow? or the guy on my left who must be battling with his soft boiled egg, because really, i have never heard anybody trying to break into a soft boiled egg that loudly.

so, ja, no one really that i would want to talk with. so instead i am writing the obligatory year end review. what happened in 2013?

the truth is that for the most part i felt like a victim. i felt like things that weren't all that great happened all the time and one after another. an attempt at something sort of a relationship that didn't work and the loneliness that follows. some health problems. writer's block. my car's window smashed enough times to make me feel uncomfortable where i live. a growing discomfort with my life in general in cape town. some work related anxiety. loosing my friend and teacher sy to reasons i still can't comprehend. my dad almost dying. i felt teary for the most part of the last few months. my flat broken in to and i had to learn the lesson that christmas really isn't about presents the hard way. mind you i knew that. it never was about presents for me, but my good thoughts for other people, materialized and gift wrapped. now i am sitting here at the airport and i'm almost home. and i think bad things do happen to good people. that is life. and of course, not all was bad. but over all this is the feeling i get when i look back. but now, today i am sick and tired of feeling like a victim. so what 2013 wasn't a great here. i won't complain. i will make the changes necessary inside and out and immediately, because i don't want to feel like this anymore.

the sun is rising next to me through the fog, literally. and i decide today to already say happy new year!

December 20, 2013

the airport post.

i wanted to write you this typical airport/christmas post. maybe reminisce a bit, reflect on the year past and the year ahead. you know the usual.
but then i came back this morning to my flat broken in to and my suitcase with all christmas gifts stolen, so now i am on my second double g&t and not that coherent anymore. 
in case you are wondering, yes you read correctly. i came back over lunch from work to pack the salt that was supposed to go into the orange le creuset salt holder for my dad to find the orange le creuset salt holder and the suitcase it was in and everything else gone. 


i cried and waited for the police for two hours and i am sorry to say i am especially done with this country at the moment. 
but then again i have also experienced the incredible friendliness of people, strangers some of them. like when my neighbour gave me a bag with christmassy things…i don't know what it is exactly, but she gave it to me to take to my family so i would have at least something to give them.
or my uncle who forwent his nap and came and hung out while i waited for the police and even took me a spare suitcase so i could pack some spare non-winterey clothes to take with.
or the thief that was stupid enough to leave my laptop in the middle of my lounge table or the jewellery that means the world to me on the kitchen counter.

nah, scratch the last one. i'm still so upset all my christmas presents are gone. 

but as only two double g&t's can paint things rosy, my post from yesterday still stands. it is just stuff. trimmings. pretty, but ultimately…things. replaceable. nothing like a dad alive who is awaiting me tomorrow or my passport safe in my hand to get me to him.

happy holidays.

December 19, 2013

a christmas story. or two. or three.

you know that i am a sucker for christmas. though it usually gets stressful around this time of the year, i love presents and always have ever since i got a barbie that came with her own bottle of fragrance. a bottle with a pink bow on top to close it and a heavenly smell. well, at least for a ten year old.
another year, i remember well, i got a new bed for christmas. it was a bunk bed for one person with a desk attached and enough space underneath to play. my parents had set it all up in the lounge for me and how excited was i when my mother allowed me to sleep downstairs. thirty-something stuffed animals had to be brought down in addition to pillows and blanket and when i was finally happily sitting on my bed it … squeaked. loud enough to concern my father who had built it and no, i couldn't sleep in that bed, something was wrong! how i convinced them, by tantrum or smiles, i don't know, but he and my brother took the entire bed apart and rebuild it in my room the same evening.
these days it is not so much about presents for myself, but i actually love giving gifts. i think there is nothing more wonderful than finding that perfect gift for someone you love and you can already see what their face will look like when they open it. this year i have already declared to 3 different people that they are getting the bestest gift of all and i mean it.
we had beautiful christmases when i was little. well, of course there were the odd ones out like the year when ariadne, our dalmatian, ate the entire goose. or the year when my dad forgot to buy champagne and then decanted a beautiful 20 year old bottle of red which was corked. there was also the year when my brother and i were left in charge of decorating the tree and decided to make a chic, all black, gucci tree and hung black cassette tapes instead of tinsel on it. let's just say gucci is not a good look for a christmas tree.
but overall our christmases were wonderful. i would watch the last unicorn, we would go to church, and then my parents would ring a bell in the lounge, announcing that the children could come inside for presents. first there would be some singing, then a champagne toast, and then i would be led to my pile first because back then there were no grandkids around yet and as the nesthäkchen i was entitled to go first.
my parents made us never wait and sit through dinner before presents. i'm still grateful for that. it also meant more peace on the dinner table afterwards. our traditional dinner is a bit of a funny one and i actually don't know how it came along but we would always have herring salad and smoked salmon with baguette. eventually foie gras was introduced and in recent years my dad always makes a ragout fin in pastetchen as a starter.
after dinner lazy family that we are, we would change out of our holiday finest and put on our pjs and watch tv. i wish i could tell you that we played board games and told stories and danced around the tree or whatever else other families do, but that would be a lie. we would eat chocolate truffles and watch sissi reruns. it was fabulous.
the morning of the 25th i would usually be the first up and sneak downstairs. the lounge would be cold with a nice smell of candles hanging in the air. i would snuggle up next to my new toys and watch cartoons and probably eat some more chocolates too. after all anything goes for christmas breakfast.
the same ritual each year… until my parents got divorced. then everything changed. mind you i was a grown-up and i guess it shouldn't have mattered. but you know what? it always matters regardless of your age.
my brother started to celebrate christmas with his own family and my mother, well, turns out she doesn't care all that much about christmas after all. i went back home every year to celebrate with my dad. one of my sisters would join us, sometimes an aunt, usually one of his friends who was also alone. it would be a somewhat odd assortment. and while i know that it is probably a good christmas spirit to bring people together who have nobody else and my dad made it really nice for us, it never felt quite the same again for me.
i started to long. to long for a christmas like kevin, home alone minus the kevin being actually home alone part. a christmas with big chaotic house full of a gazillion people, full of family – laughing, fighting, eating on long tables.
i found this here in cape town. the big chaotic house, the long tables, more kids than one can keep count of or possibly name the family relation to, the laughing, the fighting. i loved it.
my dad who has visited me a few times loved it too. this year was supposed to be no exception but then everything changed with his heart surgery. we are returning to a small christmas at home. part of me still longs for that big celebration in the sun. the other part of me is exchanging recipe and gift ideas with my brother and my sister. my dad has ordered a christmas tree and told me i am in charge of decorating, he can only watch and drink wine this year. this part of me has bought and wrapped all the presents just in time and is now praying for the suitcase gods that it will close. this part of me is happy to have a dad to celebrate christmas with, because that is the one thing i have learned this year, that actually nothing else matters.  

December 12, 2013

the big life.

there is no passion to be found in playing small in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. “

what wonderful, beautiful words these are. and how hard are they to manifest if you are not madiba. or someone similarly fabulous. but then again, isn't that what he is saying – that we should all be that amazing.
i am so tired of my life as it is right now. and yes, i know on the grand sceme of things that is ungrateful and petty and my own problem, my own fault at the end of the day.

i found the picture above tonight and while a bit cheesy, it seems to sum up what i am longing for right now. my feet in warm sand and sparkling light over my head and someone to laugh with, to hug me hard, and kiss me even harder.
the nasty, enticing smell of a big city after a hot summer rain.
the adhan. spices in my nostrils.
the exhaustion that sets in after a day of exploring a new world.
freezing cold and the knowledge that your skin glows in the light of candles and the vapors of mulled wine. whenever i used to come home after a night out with friends in winter, everything was so quiet, it felt like i was the last person on earth and it was equally scary and welcoming at the same time.
i long for the smells that have been the same since childhood. that are so familiar and so new because now i'm a grown-up.
the smell of jasmine and the noise of traffic.
seeing animals i have only ever seen in books before.
not being able to sleep because the crickets are so loud.
speaking 3 words of a foreign language but being understood.
speaking my mother tongue and being understood.
making new friends amongst old.
surprising myself.
laughing at myself.
laughing out loud.
being able to say i don't want to let you go. being able to let go.
being scared and brave about the same thing and at the same time.
making new friends and feeling immediately 'arrived'.
rain and darkness.
summer heat. snow flakes on my skin melting.

feeling alive again.
living that big life that i am meant to live.

December 9, 2013

hunger for freedom.

this weekend i felt a bit sad. it started with friday morning when i woke up to the news of madiba’s passing. on thursday when he actually died i was eating dicke bohnen, my uncle’s recipe du jour, and they were delicious. i gave him an 11 out of 10 and he was quite chuffed. in hindsight i would have expected to know. i mean not some sort of hunger games bang, but i would assume something in the universe changes when someone like him dies and that you would feel that change immediately somehow. well, apparently not, i was just happily eating my dicke bohnen and woke up to the news instead while reading facebook in bed. a bad habit by the way that is on my new year’s list to break.
so friday i felt sad and i had a full day’s of casting and that never helps to lighten the mood. except when a very handsome runner told me that he was also a swimmer and was wearing a speedo underneath and would i care to see him in that? there were times in my life when i would have taken him on this offer, but as i was sad i didn’t even care. also we didn’t need any swimmers and why waste my time on seeing a gorgeous man half naked.

saturday it was my friend’s birthday breakfast which we celebrated at kirstenbosch and it couldn’t have been more beautiful. i actually took some photos and will slot them in here soon.
for the rest of the weekend i was sad again. I am longing for home right now. as much as i want to put all my enthusiasm into my last cape town months, i can’t. i just want to be home already, dark and cold or not. so yes, a major case of grass is greener on the other side.

in addition i am starting to feel stressed out about the move, organizing, selling things, sorting stuff…all the things i am usually very good at, i mean i get paid for this! – it is stressing me out.

to be proactive i decided on an early shopping marathon on sunday and i must proudly say that i now have 75% of all gifts and i got them in less than two hours. afterwards i was knackered. how i used to shop for a living in new york i do not know.

by the way if you are still looking for a great gift for a food fan, i can highly recommend hunger for freedom by anna trapido. i saw her a few years back at the toffie food festival where she presenting a somewhat interactive journey through madiba’s life via the food he used to eat and the stories about it. some stories funny, some sad, some yummy, some thought provoking, all incredible moving. i must admit that the book has been long on my i want to have and i want to give lists, but in light of recent events it seems especially timely to remind of an incredible man who even has incredible tales to tell about the food he ate.

December 2, 2013

on the art of writing and eating haribo smurfes.

my friend julia told me on skype the other day that i was very funny after i made some sort of clever remark and she burst out laughing. that was nice to hear. i trust her judgment above most; definitely more than my own and lately i have not been feeling very funny. i have not been feeling very ... anything at all really. most days i would prefer to stay in bed and once i am out of bed i would prefer to be back inside or at least have a blanket with me that i can pull over my head. not that there is a good reason for it, because everything is just freakin' fine.

the past month has been rough. while my dad is recovering nicely and i managed to get from feeling freaked out and completely overwhelmed to pretty normal, i now struggle to get from feeling okay to feeling excited. excited about what? well, to tell you the truth i am not picky at the moment, i would like to feel excited about anything really.

yesterday was the first day i was getting somewhat excited about writing again. i didn't exactly have a writer's block, but i was definitely unenthusiastic about writing the last few weeks. but now i had to get down and dirty as i had some assignments long overdue for the travelettes. i found my excitement while writing about the khmer rouge and the killing fields and while that is undoubtedly a bit weird to get excited about, i was happy to have the mojo back. and though it may sound even weirder, i think i wrote one of my best stories yet.
now i feel like all i want to do is write. funny stories, sad stories, fragmented words, coherent dreams. okay, well i don't think i ever had a coherent dream in my life, but you know what i mean. i write right now after too much rosé, i think about sentence structure in the shower, and i felt happiest today when i wrote a little blog post for my company in german. yes, me, happy to write in german! i know it is unheard of, but seeing my fingers fly over a keyboard is the only thing that has brought me some level of positive emotion lately.

i never really told anyone but i was supposed to do nanowrimo in november. that is basically an online program with an online community that anybody can sign up for who has the plan to write a book.
i hate to admit it, but yes, i am one of these bloggers - i want to write a book. there is a handful of people who read all my stories and who keep on telling me that i should write a book. complain to them, but for some silly reason i eventually started to believe it. yeah...i'm a sucker. the only thing that has kept me so far is my own lack of discipline and nothing else. so i thought nanowrimo was the perfect outline to help me get organized and commit to writing 50.000 words in november come rain or shine. well my november came with my dad almost dying and that made me less productive than sunshine and no wind on a saturday afternoon.

i already had had a post planned about my workstation at home. then i adapted and prepared a post showing you my newfound workstation which was a fancy desk at my radisson hotel room. but i realized that all i could manage to do was to eat wiener schnitzel from room service and haribo smurfes and of course wash both down with copious amounts of wine while watching gute zeiten, schlechte zeiten. all i wrote in two weeks was text messages to my sister, my brother, and my three best friends and sometimes even these were copied and pasted.
i wasn't able to do anything else and i felt bad for it. i felt worse for it, because i had signed up and tried and realized i couldn't cope. maybe some people can find an input, an inspiration in absolute misery. i think it would actually be quite great. but that wasn't me. my book wants to be funny and witty and clever. it will need the right kind of light inspiration. seeing as my fingers are flying right now, maybe it needs to be wine fueled, maybe it needs cape town sunshine, and wind that drives me a bit mad.
i am actually not sure yet. but i know it will come when the time is right. till then i will enjoy eating smurfes and just be happy that my dad and i both coped, even when there is no funny story to prove it.

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