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.

November 26, 2013

just do it.

this is going to be a very somewhat honest post about me, my body, and my weight. if you are a guy, feel free to skip it. let's say it is more of a topic that i think girls can relate to. unless you are like the actor who plays finnick in the new hunger games movie, who apparently had major issues after he was cast and torn to pieces by the media and normal people like you and me for not being hot enough. in case you wonder, i think it is bullshit. he is as hot and ripped as it gets and runs around shirtless for a good part of the movie which makes it all the better. but that just shows that it doesn’t matter how hot you actually are, female or male, you can still have a warped body image. anyhow and either way, today is not an eating all the pasta kind of post and you have been warned. 
i was always quite okay with my body. i am blessed with my mother's curves on top and cursed with her curves on the bottom. i started to make peace with that ever since my first boyfriend wrote a song for me with a line that said she has the ass of a goddess and couldn't take his hands of my boobs. but it is an on-going process that peace making business, but by now i’m good with myself on most days.
even on the days when i can’t remember any those sweet song lyrics and am not too keen on my reflection in the mirror, i never care enough to go on a diet, i always care more for pasta. when i quit smoking a few years back however i was very concerned about gaining weight. eventually the concerns about the smoking exceeded and i quit. let's say i didn't gain enough wait that it jumps at you. or at least everybody was kind enough not to tell me should it have been the case.
but still my body has changed over the years. i am 34 now and i can tell. if you want to insist and add a comment about silly beauty ideals of thinness and stuff, go ahead, but this is not what i’m talking about. i am curvy, i have always been, i will always be, and that is great. however i have an ideal of my body. not an ideal of my 16 year old body, but of a body that is the best it can be right now.
i was close to that ideal when i was in vietnam. i ate only rice noodles and sweated a lot and looked lean and fit – at least to my eyes and that's what counts for me. i haven't been on a scale for years. i believe in how do my pants feel? rather than a number. just as age is just a number, weight has always been just a number for me too. when i came back i was so excited for the prospect of real pasta and wine though that i did not only indulge for a day or two but for a few weeks. then came my trip to germany and all bets were off.

i'm not making excuses and neither am i beating myself up. i'm just stating some facts.
yesterday i went to see a cardiologist. despite my yoga, i have been feeling very out of breath lately, and after my dad was presenting with some similar symptoms at the beginning of his illness, i thought i should check it out. filling out a form which asked for my height, i filled in my go to height as it says on my id and what i believe to be somewhat true. when it asked for my weight, i put down the number that i last saw on a scale when i weighed myself some odd years ago. as i still fit into clothes that are many seasons old, i was convinced the number couldn't be that far off and even if, what were the chances that i would be discovered?
i was discovered and promptly proven wrong 20 minutes later. on a positive note i actually am 1.74m and it wasn’t my wishful thinking. hurrah. on a very different note i weigh 10kgs more than i thought i do and i almost fainted when i looked at the scale. little did it help my mood that my heart and lungs are apparently quite beautiful – doctor's words, not mine – and very well-functioning.

and while she told me that my body weight and measurements are all fine and i am healthy, i was shocked. shocked because i don't see the body i want to see in the mirror anymore and now it has an official number to it. now weight has become a number, a number that makes an impact on me.
of course i write this while i am drinking a glass or two of wine, to dilute the shock and to salute my healthy heart. the irony is not lost on me, but i know something has to change. i want something to change. i still don't believe in dieting, but i believe in a proper diet. the good thing is that i am not a snacker and i don't have a sweet tooth, but my weakness is wheat and wine. i know what i have to do to change: more greens. less wheat. even less sugars. smaller portions. less alcohol. more yoga. it’s actually quite simple.
don’t worry this is not going to become a fitness and nutrition blog, i won’t show you before and after pictures, or bore you with talk about kilograms ever again. i just had to share tody. now i will just be very Nike, shut up, and just do it.

November 18, 2013

how i kicked a random monday's ass.

last week was a tricky one. i was still feeling sick and thus didn't do any yoga, work was hectic and then things went wrong and i almost got my anxiety back, and i had to come to terms with the fact that the whole germany trip and the situation with my dad still has be pretty shaken up.
just to admit that last fact already made it a bit better. breathing and looking objectively at my work situation helped too. i also practised two full bikram classes over the weekend and got at least started with my writing assignments. so all and all, not bad after what i consider pretty much a week from hell. but still not perfect as i was still dreading work this week every moment.

while i was lying on my mat saturday i was thinking - i'm not supposed to think while on my mat - but hey, sometimes i have some really such great thoughts and ideas on my mat, i usually only get those under the shower. and since there is only so much showering one can do in a day, i just ran with the thought and didn't judge myself for inappropriate timing. i realized that i am a really strong person. i can deal with stuff, i can handle a lot of tricky situations. i may have some bad dreams, i may feel shaky, i may cry, okay make that sob, at times, but i don't break. i manage to get through things somehow. that thought was so fascinating and so big in a way that i almost started crying again right then and there on my mat.
with that realization tightly scribbled on an inner 'note to self' i decided yesterday, again while i was on my mat, to not be scared of the week ahead. i decided to take it full on, and kick ass.

and i did. i kicked monday's ass and wow what a feeling! with that in mind i'm wishing you a great week too, kick whatever you need to kick.

November 12, 2013

travelling home. two ways.

at this point i am comfortable to say that the only thing i like about the French is their macarons and their champagne.
after 32 hours of travelling i made it back to cape town. the part when i ate all the ladurée macarons, my last euros could buy, and drank all the champagne at the business class lounge was fun. the part when i was stuck on the plane for an extra three hours at the airport till 2am wasn’t fun. neither the part when i subsequently missed my connecting flight and was put on another one that was also two hours late. and neither when this one was also stuck at the airport for another hour due to a dent, which may or may not have been caused by a poor little bird (captain’s words, not mine – fuck that bird!). did i mention that they put me in the last row, middle seat, and that air france managed to lose my luggage yet again?!
yeah, all so not fun and even the macarons barely made up for it. but as they did, i need to thank marie for telling me about the ladurée stand at the airport. i don’t think it would have even occurred to me to look for it, if she hadn’t told me.
so now i’m back and my luggage too with a little delay. i’m sick and exhausted, emotionally and physically. however i am happy to be back in the sun, with my solar powered fairy lights and a big pot of freshly grown basil on the balcony.
but for all of you who were hopeful that once i travelled back to cold, dark germany in the winter and would be inclined to change my mind about moving there, i have to disappoint you. despite the less than fortunate circumstances i liked it. 

i liked that the people in shops and restaurants were really friendly and generally knew what they were doing. a large number of girls sported an unfortunate choice of eyebrows (as in none, replaced by a black marker line), but while it made them look a bit scary, they were still all really friendly and i think it might only be a regional thing.

oh how i loved that things run on time! except very busy surgeons when they meet you for dinner, but how often will that really become an issue in the future?!

my nephew asked me when i was going to come visit him again (i didn’t get to see him this time around) and so i told him about my plans to move to hamburg where he lives. he was so freaking excited and just kept on asking for real? like really?
so i have to move now before he turns into a snotty teenager who couldn’t give a damn about where his aunt lives. 
but seriously i am also moving back for the love of pasta. i mean look at this…

i almost cried when i saw the wall of pasta at karstadt and tried to figure out how i can take all some back. in the end i didn’t take any because my bag was full, but i have planned to return there immediately when i move back and buy all some of it.

last but not least: germany is pretty when the skies are blue and yes, even in winter they sometimes are.

November 7, 2013

part III - of being home and coming home and orange chocolate sticks.

i take a breath. i take a sip of overpriced minibar wine. i could cry a little. instead i look out of the window and the view over the now night-lit city is magnificent again. it wasn't earlier today, everything was grey. german style. now it's darkness and twinkly lights.

the massage i had the day before was pure luxury according to the price, but it was there to help me relax. not that it really did help, but it felt nice. now i need another one to get rid of the pain in my left shoulder, the familiar pain that seems to be my achilles heel when i carry too much luggage. or when stuff happens. stuff like my dad almost dying.

there is a dummies guide to everything these days, except for this. a dummies guide on how to take care of a dad if he had major surgery and almost died. there is nothing that could have ever prepared me for it, with or without a book. i don't know what to do, how to hide my helplessness, and how to sleep when i come back to room alone in a foreign city that is grey.
but somehow i have managed. there is not guide book so there is no right or wrong. i want to buy him food, i think hospital food is horrible, and my dad likes good food. i go to the store and then i feel overwhelmed. what do you buy for someone who just had a huge surgery? i end up buying orange sticks covered in dark chocolate amongst other bananas and pudding. i know my dad likes them, so his first meal out of surgery is vanilla semolina pudding and two orange sticks covered in dark chocolate.

i tell him he looks like an outlaw and file his nails and put lotion on his face.

i buy him nice, comfy headphones so he can listen to his beloved operas.

i tell him stuff and am happy when i can make him laugh. the best words he says to me start with “when i get out of here...”

i have only my intuition as to what to do and say. somehow it seems to be the right thing.

every day when i return from my morning visit i go to a pasta bar where i eat a bowl and drink some white wine for lunch. too much white wine to be honest. i do nothing, but i am exhausted. i start to miss my life. not so much cape town itself, but something that is mine. it seems to be suspended for the time being. it's okay, i am not complaining, as long as my dad is getting better.

the view from my hotel room is even more spectacular at night. the opera is drenched in soft pink light. it was built under stalin; apparently he got something right. i can't get myself to go see something, it seems too much effort and the only nice piece of clothing i have with me is my sherlock holmes coat. at h&m i have found some very cheap, nice bikini bottoms in black but nothing that screams opera.
so i stay in and order room service. the schnitzel is phenomenal and somehow i manage to make peace with the german television. i sleep badly though and miss my bed.

what happened to the “date” with the doctor you ask? well, let me tell you that grey's anatomy is a big, fat lie. well, the only part that is true is that funny machine you use to blow balls into the air to train your lungs, but the rest is bullshit. all that flirting, the dating, the shagging in the on-call room, that getting married, that cheating on each other, phew, it is all make belief! because believe me when i tell you: a real surgeon does not have time for that. a real surgeon will manage to have a schnitzel with you at 10pm after a long day of work and then he will need an early night to be fit for surgery in the morning. i count myself lucky that the schnitzel was a really good one and that i got a ride home in a fancy surgeon's car.
but honestly i don't even care. all i care that i left a father today who was smiling, eating, and breathing on his own. the only sign that reminds of his ordeal is a brave heart scar, which i tell him daily is pretty cool – chicks dig scars!

November 2, 2013

in the air.

mcdreamy has literally given me the direct line to him in theatre. and i use it. and while the announcements at the airport are loud, the good news is louder: my dad's op went as well as it could have.
i make a frantic round of phone calls before i frantically make my way to the gate because they mention final boarding. when i get there they have only just started boarding, of course.

i would consider myself a somewhat seasoned traveler and thus flyer, but sometimes i can be a complete nightmare and then i feel really sorry for the people who have to sit next to me. i have the window seat and the guy next to me has the aisle with extra leg room, which i know he had to pay extra for. but he needs it, because he could be a good runner up for tallest man on earth. the middle seat is empty which by definition makes it mine.

i have to go use the bathroom as soon as i finish shrieking into the phone to tell thekla the good news. after all i managed to get a second g&t in, which i already had to down because of the false last boarding call announcement, so there was definitely no time for the loo. i am right behind business class so that's where i sneak in to. mmh, air france offers clarins toner and cotton pads, nice. i later discover that the mere mortals in economy only get hand wash. but albeit the closed curtain there is no purser guarding the precious business class toilet like it they usually do – you know like the fire spitting dogs that guard the gate to hell or heaven or something?
i sit down and start reading the paper i grabbed, carefully folding it over my two seats without annoying my neighbour. i have read that spread out newspapers from their neighbours is a pet-peeve of many flyers.

i start to push the buttons on my screen, but no movie choices appear. neighbour friendly advises me that it will only start once we are in the air. i am doubtful, has it always been like this?
have i mentioned that nivea after sun lotion smells like very persistent men's cologne? guess what i am wearing. considering he is a guy and there is the middle seat it shouldn't disturb neighbour, but it disturbs me and i wish i would have made time for a shower before i left.
food arrives and with it i spot the word heidsieck. yeah, i'm in france already and i'm drinking champagne! it's not very cold. and while a plastic cup doesn't lack a certain romantic when used on a beach picnic with someone you are crazy about, here it is just a bit sad.
i start to watch a sandra bullock movie which is funny enough and together with my mood that has gone from zero to forty-three in one phone call i frequently laugh out very loud. i don't think i piggy snorted, but i am definitely loud-ish.

my red wine arrives and while i grab for my pie i spill half of my glass. which is a shame because it would have been last as i later find out (really air france, we are basically in france and you are rationing the red wine??) and well, now there is read wine on my tray, my blanket, my backpack, and the front pocket. neighbour kindly organizes a whole stack of napkins and i dab away. i know that at this point he must think i'm a complete nightmare so i make a joke about how it now at least smells nice. which is clearly a joke because as much as i love the smell of wine in a glass, spilled all over you in a confined never. he wrinkles his nose. drab. maybe the coke he was drinking should have been an indicator that i manage to spill wine next to the one and only freshly baked aa on the whole flight. i dare not inquire further and try to look nonchalant.

i sneak back into the fancy loo to clean my face with clarins. i think they refilled the bottle with something cheap and cheerful. if not, clarins stinks. back at my seat i realize that i should have taken my bra off, i forgot when packing and dressing for the trip that i never wear a bra on air. it's dark enough by now so i quickly my it disappear at my seat and feel like david copperfield.
it is sleeping time. with the my middle seat came my extra blanket. which is a good thing because they are extremely thin, made for african summer temperatures that are unfortunately not be found all these feet above ground. my new memory foam neck pillow is awesome though it is a bit boa constrictor like around my neck, which makes it really good for neck support, but slightly claustrophobic.
i'm quite good at sleeping spread over two seats. since neighbour has been so nice i try to keep to my assigned two seats and not spill over too much. i even manage to emerge myself completely at some point, but that position is a) not very flattering because my bum is hanging suspended in mid-air and b) almost impossible to get out of without having a lot more wiggle room at my disposal.
his blanket is still on the middle seat, wrapped in plastic and very slippery. i wish i could kick it off the seat, but really don't want to be any more impolite.

after a few hours, could have been one, could have been five, i feel the need to write things down. neighbour is still up watching gatsby. i am terrified to open my airbook, because last time i had the sudden urge to write something down on a plane, i discovered it broken. airbook that is, not plane, but still.
while i write neighbour has decided it's sleeping time and has reclaimed his half of the middle seat. for a moment i feel a bit indignant. and then i feel bad, because he has put up with a lot by putting up with me tonight. i decide that he would actually deserve the entire middle seat for a little while.  

October 29, 2013

a kingdom for the dragon slayer.

after i have roared, i did cry, a lot, and now i have moved on to inappropriate jokes and thoughts. if you are easily offended, you may want to skip this post. but then i don't know how you got here in the first place.
i am at the airport, trying to drink as many double g&ts before i board. i'm sitting here with my new pink memory foam pillow around my neck. my dad is having an emergency heart surgery and i'm flying home. whoopsie.
the surgeon is one of the best and he is close to my family. in fact back in the day he wanted to go out with me. i didn't want to for some silly reason or other i can't remember now. in fact i can, but i won't tell you for fear of someone yelling at me. ups.
my brother reckons if all goes well, i owe him a date after all. i agree and guess it's the modern day version of slaying a dragon for a girl.
on a more serious note i guess it is ideal worst case scenario. a personal mcdreamy for my dad. which doctor gives you his cell phone number and direct line to the theatre?
trying to pack when you to travel into the unknown, trying to keep the tears and the thoughts in check, is a tricky one. we all know that packing is a bitch at the best of times.
i'm wearing my leopard pants, not sure if this is appropriate. but then i will be at least easily recognizable as the 'daughter from africa'.
i thought about bringing my camera. after all i'm going to a city in germany i have never been too. can one do sightseeing on such occasion? i left it at home. iphone will have to do. i took my little blue backpack though. it reminds me of happier travel occasions.
i packed a small bag, the lady at the airport even asked me if i was sure i wanted to check it. yes, i am, i have shampoo. fuck. yes, you can buy shampoo in germany, but as i said packing is a bitch and i wasn't thinking clearly.

i had a lot more sarcastic and funny thoughts before i got here and started writing. now all i can do to not think about my dad is to wonder whether air france has really nice wine. they better.

October 28, 2013

i roar, not cry.

today i had planned a very happy post. a post about my lovely, first teaching-free weekend and the sunshine and the family gatherings and all that happy stuff. i even wanted to share lots of pictures of me and my sunburn. okay, fine, that is a lie as i didn’t get a sunburn didn’t take any pictures.

with or without the pictures, this post is so not happening now as i came home last night to find out that my dad instead of being released from hospital had to be moved back to the icu. then hell sort of broke loose inside of me and i went on a frantic phone spree to find out what had happened, what was happening now, and mainly if i had to book a flight back home immediately. i don’t know what to do in a situation like this. i have never been so worried for someone that close to me. i don’t know if that is something that you can ever learn or get used to somehow. and i realized that even though i know people who it has happened to and though i have read books about it and seen movies, nothing could have ever prepared me to how it feels first hand. how i felt like someone punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. i guess it’s the same with all grand things in life – you can empathize, but you actually don’t know anything until you have actually been there, done that. 

so yesterday i cried a lot, slept badly, and realized that while a crisis brings out the best in people, it also can bring out the worst in some. today i am not only scared and sad, but also seriously pissed off with certain self-righteous someones. but to be honest i am also being a complete asshole right now to anyone who doesn't have answers or too many or only the ones i don't want to hear, which is pretty much everybody. i roar and not in a good katy perry kind of way, but more in a 'seriously fuck off' kind of way. which i know is not fair at all, because everybody i roar at is just as scared as me and loves my dad just as much.

now i am going home to wait for news. since i feel utterly drained today i wish i was this person who would go do yoga and drink green juice to feel better, but alas, i am not that person. i am the person who eats rescue remedy pills like haribo, makes homemade pizza, and who stocks up on wine, because i realized yesterday that running out of wine in a crisis is a small crisis in itself.

in the midst of all of this i want to thank all of you who have offered me kind words, hugs, and understanding and prayers for my dad. it means the world to me to have people like you in my life; people who love and support me without questioning, because you know me, you know that i am scared, and you know i only roar so i don't cry.

October 23, 2013

why i do yoga. the truth.

i never walk out of a yoga classes feeling enlightened. i’m hoping for it to happen any day now, but so far it hasn’t. however i always feel a bit better than before. usually not a lot, but always a tiny bit. and that keeps me coming back. how many activities are there that make you truly, always feel a bit better? drinking? hangover! eating? feeling too full! run at the promenade? cape town wind! sex? no orgasm! a lot can get in the way of your activity of choice and feeling better afterwards. yoga to me is fool proof in that regard. but still, i am far from an angel. even after a blissful class, me not yelling at some idiot in a big white car on my way home is nothing short of a miracle. one time i was in fact so spaced out after a double class that i drove with my lights off, not noticing, but still managed to viciously swear at the person who pulled out of a parking in front of me, without indicating, because, well, as i eventually realized, they didn't see me.

and those are the better days. on day like today when i am overall irritated it starts in class. sometimes i scold myself for thinking mean thoughts about my fellow yogis. sometimes i am in such bad mood that i high five myself. today i used these thoughts to keep myself entertained before i could do so with a bottle of red.
i still think it would be great if my studio offered wine, so i don't have to scramble and try to get to spar before class. also it would spare me the choice of hiding my bottle because it makes me feel like a bad yogi or leaving it in my car, making me anxious someone will steal it while i pretend i'm a good yogi. so making wine acceptable and available at yoga studios would just really help this dilemma.

so i arrive, wine hidden in bag, and wait for the studio to open up. like the lemmings we follow one person upstairs with no better argument than he went up and so we thought it okay to follow. well, once upstairs we learn it wasn't okay. apparently the studio wasn't ready for our un-sweaty bodies yet and also, can we please be quiet. we are all inside already and on our mats, so that is crying over spilled soy milk, but i can get on board with the being quiet part.

of course the two girls who put their mats down next to me and haven't been here when the be quiet! speech was given. and so they talk and chat and annoy me greatly. but of course i, hating confrontation as per usual and even if it is just in form of a shhhhh, don’t say anything. i just continue to be annoyed. after maybe five minutes i am ready to get over myself and say something, but then i talk myself out of it, because saying something that long after they started talking, is just silly. i don’t want them to think me a cow. why i care what they think of me i don’t know. i decide to breathe and close off my ears from the inside.

now i’m fine. that is till i look at the girl's toes and realize she has one really crusty toe. she must have stabbed it. and while i know that this is not her fault, it still grosses me out. also, her nail polish is turquoise and that is not very nice in combination with the crusty toe. i am going into downward facing dog and realize that my toe nail polish is peeling off badly. for a moment i can relate to her and her crusty toe, but then i compare colors and decide that though mine is peeling, the color is just spot on whereas the prettiest part of her crusty toe is still turquois.

a girl walks in with black eyeliner and mascara. may i remind you that we are doing hot yoga? the last time someone walked into my class with black eyeliner and mascara, i gave her my eye makeup remover before she could put her mat down. nobody likes a raccoon.

next is a girl with a black leather jacket over her yoga clothes. now i’m just confused.

that is, until a girl with a white tank top and no bra walks in. i think her boobs, while perky, are slightly too big for no bra, but that may be up for discussion. however white top no bra in a hot yoga class seems to be asking for it. i remind myself that i seem to be the only really freakish girl who sweats like the sweaty guys, so maybe i need to back off white tank top no bra girl. maybe she really is one of these people who just glow after a hot yoga class.

now i’m feeling envious. it seems so unfair that some people glow while i drip.

luckily there is no model in the room today, checking her cell phone before/during class for that very important casting call back.

some guys really should wax their back. then again, i should have shaved my legs or worn leggings.

a guy walks in and he looks like prince charming. another guy follows and he looks like a hot brazilian. all is good with the world again.

the girl's toe seems to becoming closer to my mat while the teacher has us in plank. eeek. i usually like this teacher. today i think i must have been sleep-yoga-ing the last few classes, because she is no fun whatsoever. more plank and now we are supposed to lift a leg too. i don’t know why she is being so mean. then she says yoga teaches us to let go of our shit. and yes, she is using the word shit. i like her again and she is right.

when i leave, i smile. hot brazilian guy is nowhere to be seen and i'm dripping, but, again, is just a little bit better after yoga.  

October 22, 2013

And this is what you missed - weekend edition.

This weekend or actually the past few days were quite emotional. It started with my Mum calling me to tell that my Dad had to go to hospital last Thursday. He is a bit better, but still not well and I am worried for him. And not that I needed any more confirmation that my decision to move back home is right, but him being unwell was definitely the cherry on top, a negative cherry if there is such a thing. I need to be closer when stuff like this happens, for myself and for my family.

Now he is contemplating whether he should even come to South Africa and I had to convince him to at least wait to make a final decision until he is better and out of the hospital. I reminded him not only of the sun, the wine, and our Test Kitchen reservation, but also painted a picture of him sitting in the shadow of a pomegranate tree in the garden of the lovely guesthouse I have found him, playing bridge. This was shut down with his objection that he is coming without his bridge partner and cannot play on his own. So if anybody knows a bridge playing lady in Cape Town who might be keen to team up with my Dad, let me know, so I have the best of all arguments at hand for him to get better and to come down here as planned.

Then I ran into the friend who hasn’t spoken to me in over 5 weeks not once but twice (!!) over the weekend. I guess it was to be expected as we move in the same circles, but it was uncomfortable nonetheless. Running into an ex friend you are not over yet is as eeeek as running into an ex-boyfriend you are still attached to. He smiled a bit too brightly when he said hi and I was trying to seem aloof and hide the hurt in my eyes.

On Sunday afternoon I got ready to drive to class when I saw that my driver’s side window had been smashed. Second time in a month, in broad daylight, nothing stolen.
I was livid. I still am when I think about it. Honestly someone who steals because he/she is hungry and has nothing is something I get. It’s not right, but I get it. Someone who destroys someone else’s stuff for no good reason whatsoever is simply an asshole. When they asked me at Glassfit to check a box and say what happened to the window the options read:

Stone throw
Break in
Smash and Grab

I asked where I could check the box for asshole. The clerk was laughing, but I was dead serious. Nothing I can do about it now, but rely on the fact, well for me it is a fact, that karma sees everything.

I drove to class in the wind with no window, arrived late, still upset, only to realize that I had packed my bikini bottom instead of my top. Bleh.
Then I walked into the studio filled with 35 people, one of the biggest crowds I have taught, and had the most amazing class ever.

And just like this all was good with my world again and that I am grateful for.

October 17, 2013

what pastaholic ate for breakfast.

i recently wrote a story for the travelettes about ha long bay. i mention that one of the main reasons why i decided on vietnam was because i love fresh spring rolls so much and wanted to eat as many as i could. and no, before you care to correct me, nobody calls them summer rolls there. pastaholic me however was thinking about pho before going there and got ridiculously excited by the idea of travelling to a country where it was perfectly acceptable to have pasta for breakfast. not even in rome did i eat pasta for breakfast, though i should have and next time i go, i totally will. and while i am very well aware of the difference between noodles and pasta, i was still excited and looking forward to 'pasta for breakfast'.
in case you don’t know what pho is – pho is a broth with rice noodles, usually served with chicken or beef, and notoriously mispronounced by foreigners who end up ordering a hooker for breakfast. i tried my best not to, but i also think that the vietnamese are used to the stupid westerners now and have learned to differentiate if someone is hungry for one or the other.

so we arrived and i ate pho. i ate pho on my first night in vietnam, i ate it at pho 2000 where clinton ate his pho, and at 6.30am after getting off a night train in nha trang with a dodgy stomach at a little side street cafe, barely avoiding pigs feet and blood sausage in my bowl. so i think i ate my way around and really gave it a fair chance. but in the end i realized again, because i kind of knew that already, that i am not a soup/broth fan. it doesn't get me excited at all, ever. unless it’s lobster broth, but even then i would prefer the actual lobster. but i didn't make a big deal out of broth dislike, i just started to eat only the noodles, the chicken, and at pho 2000 the funny, round mushrooms that looked like exploding shrooms from mario brothers, but that were actually super delicious. this was an okay solution for me, but i always felt a bit bad for leaving all the broth. it felt like i was insulting the chef's pho by not eating the broth.

the other thing that i realized is that eating noodle soup for breakfast is freaking weird. i really don’t want to sound like a horrible tourist here and i don’t think that my breakfast choices are making the world a better place, but for my palate noodle soup was weird. i thought i was going to be in heaven, being allowed to have noodles all day long, but for breakfast my stomach was like “what the heck? ever heard about eggs? ever heard about a croissant? a dry piece of baguette?”. it got very confused by my repeated attempts to feed it noodles at 7am, something it had clearly marked and stored away under lunch and dinner and after midnight snack foods.
then came the morning when we arrived in hanoi. again we had gotten off a night train which for a change hadn't arrived earlier, hurrah, but nobody had woken us up and so we had to get up, get our luggage, and get off the train in less than 5 minutes. then we had to walk to our hotel for about 10 minutes, backpacks and all, through grey morning streets and high humidity. at our hotel we couldn't check in yet, so we freshened up in the bathrooms, and went off to find some breakfast. even in busy hanoi not an easy task this early in the morning and at least the eggs benedict were still fast asleep. we went to a little corner cafe to have a coffee first and wait for the breakfast place to open.

my stomach was still dodgy, but i decided to ignore it and have an iced coffee with condensed milk. why anyone would drink coffee without condensed milk ever is beyond me and since i knew my days in vietnam were numbered i went for it. eventually more places opened and we had the choice of ordering pho from the stall next to the cafe or to have said eggs benedict for breakfast. my stomach and my wallet both decided that a little chicken noodle broth would be gentler for every party involved. i asked tam, our one vietnamese in the group, to order me a bowl. he did and in return i didn't growl at him when he wanted to take my picture eating pho. which i think says a lot about how mellow i am on holiday, because let’s repeat:
it was before 8am.
i was not feeling well.

implied that i wasn't wearing any make-up and that i don't like to have my picture taken in general. i think i was temporarily mollified though by my pho and by tam's camera, which is a fancy one in a cool, old school cover. and in the end i must admit i quite like it the picture. blame the filter, i blame the pho. the vietnamese seem to have it right – pho in the morning is good for you.

October 10, 2013

about leaving, yoga, and a slimy toe.

i just squirted liquid soap that someone had made more liquid by adding water all over me and my left big toe. i tried to rub the soap off, but ended up washing my toe and my flip flop in the process. i don’t think i have done a very good job with getting the soap off because both toe and flip flop still feel very slimy. slimy in a good way of course, because it is soapy slime, but still… also it has now spread from my toe to the rest of my foot so it’s sliding around on/in the flip flop.
anyhow what is going on in your life?
other than having a too clean toe right now life has been really good lately. ever since the big news is out of the bag – can i still say this even though it's not a cat? - i have a newfound excitement for everything. an excitement for life, the future, myself. i’m feeling very bubbly on the inside. i am even doing vinyasa classes, if you believe it, these days. if you know me, you understand that this is a big deal. i do bikram and in bikram you stand still, which i like and which i am quite good at most days. that sounds more dreadful now than it is, because i firmly believe that people need to stand still more often and just be and breathe. in my case however i feel like i now need to literally go with that flow i have found and move and jump around and do. the thinking is done, now it is all about doing and it feels really, really good to get moving, on and off my yoga mat.
last night i had a dream of how i was back in hamburg and my brother told me that he was moving to new york for work. i can’t tell you how upset i was about this and i had to try my hardest to put on a brave face for him and be supportive of his decision. when i woke up and realized it was only a dream i was very, very relieved. part of the excitement of moving to hamburg is that i will be closer to my brother and my nephew. at the same time it really gave me an appreciation of how the people here, who love and cherish me, must feel that i am moving away. i never really thought much about that before to be honest. i was always the one moving countries, even continents, leaving it all behind when only the idea of staying became harder than the idea of leaving. but leaving was still always hard and it will be again. but with that in mind i never really thought about the people that i am leaving behind and that, without tooting my own horn, it might be really hard for them too.
till i had this dream and i was in the reverse position.
as it is i am unashamed selfishly glad that my brother is staying put for the time being. and i am so grateful for people that love me enough that they will miss me. i will miss you too! when the subject comes up with my boss or thekla and they both look at me with puss in boots eyes, i already almost cry. so no, actually i take it back; being the one that is leaving makes it double as hard.
but as i still smile while i’m writing this, i know i have made the right decision and that feeling makes it all alright. well, sort of…
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...