Saturday, 31 October 2015

On saving Money and spending it (wisely?)

 
Original Picture taken from StockSnap

Money really is a curious thing. A thing we rarely like to talk about.

It feels good to save it and see it accumulate on your bank account.
But sometimes it also feels good to spend it. Especially when talking about things you want simply because they are pretty. Necessities are things we often don't really want to spend money on, but we have to regardless (what about that new washing machine, because the old one broke down?). 
For example, I'd much rather spend my 200€ on a bunch of new books and some nice sweaters instead of getting my car fixed. At this point, I wonder why those necessities alway have to be so bloody expensive?

Anyway, saving money can be quite tricky with all of those temptations around us that literally scream at us: "Buy me!" Lovely clothes, books, candles, music, films... the list is endless.
I have always been quite good at putting at least a bit of money aside. You never know when you are going to need it, right? But I also go through phases of extensive spending. Not to a point where I end up completely broke, but enough to leave me with a feeling of guilt.
This month was one of those months. Again, I'm far from being penniless, but when I think about how much money I spent on clothing and other items this months, it makes me shudder with disgrace. I was so weak! But at the same time I am glad about every single one of my purchases, because I will enjoy every single one of them hopefully for years to come. And who can say no to a lovely flannel on sale?? Sometimes you have to treat yo self (yes, this is me justifying myself and yes, by "sometimes" I mean more than you actually plan to). 

Normally, next month should be a month of abstinence,when it comes to shopping, etc., but with Christmas right around the corner I honestly don't see that happening. I've also had this glorious idea to treat my mum with a short trip to Edinburgh with me. So, there goes my money... but this time it's for the right reasons. It is always easier for me to spend money on the people that I love than on myself. 

Saving money for times when you really need it is always a wise idea, but it should not stop you from treating yourself and your darlings from time to time. There might be bit of guilt involved, but sometimes, the 20€ you spend at the café when meeting up with your friends, can create memories that are much more valuable than those 20€.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Midnight Paranoia - Another Short Story

Original Picture taken from StockSnap
It was as if he had been struck by a lightning. His eyes opened even before his muscles had the chance to realize that he was no longer asleep. His body felt so stiff, so tense due to the sudden awakening.
Slowly his eyes started to wander as if they were looking for something in the dark, but there was nothing to be seen except for the silhouettes of his furniture. The room was filled with absolute silence. The only thing he noticed was his own breathing – slow, but deep. He felt his chest expand widely every time he took a breath in. After a few moments of laying still he rose from his bed. He was all alone, but still he could feel an indistinct presence. A faint tickling in his fingertips and toes, which made him shiver.
He put on his morning-coat to fight this acute cold and left the room. Quiet as a cat he tiptoed downstairs with his heart starting to beat faster. The sound the old clock in the living room somehow made him feel uneasy. Every moment he expected the constant, slow ticking to speed up. 
 
Darkness was still reigning over the rooms of this house, as he did not dare to turn on the light.
He made his way through the short corridor, following the ticking of the clock into the living room.
The fire had been out for many hours, so it was rather chilly.
He walked towards the grand window which allowed the moonlight to cast a sheen over the entire room. He was almost there when he felt cold air lightly brushing his neck. Or was it the breath of a person? He froze, but instead of turning around his gaze was fixed on his own reflection in the window.
He could feel his blood flushing through his veins. His whole body started to clench.

He was being watched. He knew it. He could neither hear nor see it, but he could feel it. Again he felt something lightly touching his neck. Slowly it wandered towards his collarbone, stroking the fine line of his throat.
With a swallow he closed his eyes. He tried to convince himself that it was just air coming in through a hole in the wall, but in truth it felt like caresses concentrating on that little bit of uncovered skin.
After three seconds his eyes opened again only to see the outlines of another man standing right behind him. In an instant he turned around to look at this person, but once again he was alone. He chuckled when he realized that he had succumbed to such an illusion, that he had allowed his own senses to betray him. However there was still a cooling sensation lingering on his neck. Instinctively his fingers reached up to touch it.

Finally he decided to declare this whole occurrence as an illusion and went back upstairs. Before he reached the last step a hand suddenly covered his mouth, pulling him back. With a restrained cry he fell.

His body reached the floor with a muffled sound, the left arm unnaturally distorted.
In shock his eyes were wide open, but he was unable to move.
Then there was the sound of footsteps. 

-----------------------------------------------------

This story is the product of a writing session from over a year ago. I've always been into morbid, psychological stories that move between reality and mere fantasy. On that particular evening I wanted to write something scary. Well, not necessarily scary, but something that would make the reader feel uneasy, maybe wondering. 

I was not sure if I should work on it a bit more to turn it into a longer story, but I never touched it again until a few months ago, when I tried to write a prologue for it. I was not satisfied with it. So, I abandoned the project again. Being very critical of my own work, I am hardly ever satisfied with the things that I write, especially when it comes to fiction, but I actually like how this part turned out. 

There is something fascinating about a man who finds himself in a situation, where he is all alone and confronted with emotions such as fear and despair. It makes him so vulnerable, but he might still try to retain his composure. His eyes might show that he is afraid, but he still tries to keep his body from trembling with all his might.

This short episode does have some sensual undertones to it, which was completely intentional. The mixture of eroticism and horror is to a certain degree quite faschinating, isn't it?
Hopefully, I will some day be able to continue this piece in a way that doesn't make me cringe like my last attempt did.
 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

That Nostalgic Feeling

Original Photo taken from StockSnap
 Today I took an early train to Cologne. It was just about dawn. The sun was slowly rising over the soft hills covered in their autumnal, golden brown dress. The scenery was the same as usual, with the same houses and the same trees, but the way the morning light illuminated everything with this warm sheen made me feel nostalgic

Not soon after our departure I could see a hill. On the top of this hill is a hospital, surrounded by a forest. Underneath that hospital is the house where I used to live, together with two friends I have known since middle school. And suddenly a wave of memories overcame me. 

It was not the best neighbourhood to live in, but so many good things in my life are attached to this place, as well as the people I used to share it with. I remembered our evenings together just chatting, snacking and talking along to "the Emperor's New Groove" or any Monty Python film. I remembered how we used to go on walks in the woods and how we went grocery shopping together almost every week for three years, with me being the designated driver (for I was the only one with a driver's license and a car). I remembered how carefree I was. 

Those three years were the best of my life so far. I was so carefree, because the real world seemed so far away. I had an amazing group of friends, this great apartment I shared with people who were so like me, who understood me, who did not feel offended when I felt the need to spend some time alone. Because they felt just the same way. 

I remembered the day when I saw this cute guy on the bus on my way home from uni and the surprise when he got out one station before mine. He was my new upstairs neighbour and my big crush for almost over two years. The nights we spent watching films together and making pizza. That one Halloween party where we almost kissed and spent the morning huddled against each other. 

Thinking of those happy years was a harsh reminder of the life I'm leading right now. I am not unhappy. In fact, I am rather lucky, but things are happening. Things have to happen, because it is how life goes. Soon, I will hand in my final thesis. I have to start looking for a proper job next month. Eventually, I will have to move out of the apartment I just started to really call my home

I am to torn between the desire to move forward with my life and this strong feeling of nostalgia which makes me think that life will never be as good as it was back then.
It is always easy to look back and see everything through rose-coloured glasses, to blurr the lines and make everything look all smooth and nice, because we only want to remember the good things. You want to think back to the moment when you and your friends sat together on the couch laughing about a silly joke instead of the moment when you stood in the kitchen, annoyed, because someone forgot to clean up the toast crumbs on the counter. 

I have always been a victim of living in the past. Sometimes I spend hours just remembering the same moment over and over again and at times I even wish I could return to it to relive it, maybe even change it. It is a beautiful and dangerous thing to be so caught up in the past. It is a part of me that will probably never fade away, but right now I have to force myself to not only look toward the future, but to actively approach it. 

Life is scary. And it always will be.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Just a silly Story about falling in Love

Original Picture taken from StockSnap
 She was sitting on the bus quietly reading her book. Actually, it was way too heavy to be taken around. In fact, it was so heavy that she had to rest it on her lap in order to read it. Because of the chilliness in the early morning she had put on her dark red tartan scarf which she used now to snuggle up in. The story she was reading was one of the most extraordinary ones she had read in a long time - gallant knights, brutal battles and fairytale creatures. 
But still she was not able to fully immerse in this wonderful fantasy. She knew that she was being watched. She could feel it in every single fiber of her body, from the tips of  her toes all the way to the ends of her hair. This feeling was nerve-wracking, but for the first 5 minutes after noticing it she didn't dare to look up. 
Suddelny the bus came to an abrupt stop at a red light. Her head automatically jerked up in surprise. 
Her eyes were wide open when she looked at the young man sitting opposite of her. His lips were curled into an amused smile, and at that moment she couldn't help but return it. 
Nervously she removed her backpack from  the seat next to her. There was plenty of room to sit on this bus that gloomy Wednesday afternoon. Usually, she was glad when she had some space for herself, but somehow the prospect of having this stranger right next to her was too exciting to let it pass. 
Even though he seemed to hesitate for a second, he suddenly chuckled, got up an made his way toward her. His smile was truly contagious.
"Hi, I'm sorry for bothering you. I couldn't help but notice you and your giant book. I'm Greg. Nice to meet you."


Tomorrow I will probably feel like deleting this truly silly attempt on writing again. I know it is nothing world to shake the literary world, just a little practice to ease myself back into it. 
It is one of those little fantasies that I'm sometimes caught up in - little scenarios of romantic, stereotypical but oh so cute chance encounters with likeable young men. 
I actually wrote a draft for this text on to the first page of my new Muji-notebook. Writing this down really felt like defiling this page, no the entire notebook. This notebook where witty remarks about life and profound observations are supposed to be eternalised. I guess, every great writer started with some silly nonsense. So, let's hope for a better, productive future.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Listen to your Heart, but speak with your Mind

Original Picture taken from StockSnap
 Nowadays we are taught that it is okay to speak your mind. That we are obliged to share our thoughts and our emotions with the world and the people around us. We no longer live in a society where we have to hold out tongues (at least in the Western hemisphere). If we don't like something, we say it. If we have complaints, we don't conceal them. 

However, it is not always that easy, especially if we enter the realm of interpersonal relationships. You do not want to hurt some else's feelings, sometimes even if they had hurt yours before. After all, it is not always intentional, right? But when you are stood up by someone for the second time in a row on a very short notice (I'm talking about a few hours before the actual date), you have a right to be disappointed, even if you know that the other person didn't do it on purpose. 
Some people are just a bit chaotic, so things like that happen. But if you haven't seen someone in a long time and you have been looking forward to seeing them so badly, this whole affair leaves a very bad aftertaste. 

You might want to tell him that you are disappointed, that you hate being stood up like that, but in the end you decide against it. You laugh it off. You tell him that it's alright and of course the date can be postponed. "No worries. It's fine, really. We can go another time!"

At the end of the talk you feel a bit numb. It is not real sadness. You just don't feel right. Maybe because you didn't say the right things - the things you actually wanted to say when you tried not to make the other person feel bad. 

It is always difficult to decide when to tell the truth and when to hide it. Is it for the sake of someone else or your own? Who will benefit? Both? Or will someone get hurt?
Usually, I refrain from revealing my personal feelings and thoughts, when I suffer from disappointment or anger. Snapping at the other person is never very helpful. And while the impulsive buy of a new book can be very gratifying, you have to be careful with relying too much on your feelings - or rather with expressing them.

Listen with your heart, but speak with your mind.
You can't always prevent hurt and heartbreak, but you can try to diminish the damage by using your brain even though it can be hard at times. Think about it. Think about it with a clear mind and consider your possibilities before you start to complain and whine all day.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

On avoiding Social Confrontation

Original Picture taken from StockSnap
 Today was the day I was supposed to go the birthday party of my father's girlfriend.
Judging from the way I phrased this first sentence it is quite easy to deduce that I did not go. 

They had invited me to come about to months ago - on my father's birthday party actually. Of course, I accepted the invitation with the usual excitement you have to show on such an occasion, but deep inside I was already dreading the prospect of sitting among all those strangers not knowing what to say to them. 

I have to admit, that soon afterwards I just forgot about the invitation. Until about one week ago, my father messaged me to remind me of the upcoming event. I didn't answer him for two more days debating on what I should answer him. Should I again tell him that I would come or should I decline with some poor excuse?

In the end, I opted for version no. 2. I told him that I was sorry, but I had to do the late shift at work, so it would be impossible for me to make it. But I ensured him, that I would ask my colleagues to switch with me. Then, on Wednesday, I messaged him again. Nobody was able to switch shifts. I was stuck. And deeply sorry. He was very understanding. After all, work always comes first. And nobody really wants to work on Saturdays, right?

While it felt wrong, this was not the first time for me to invent a reason not to go somewhere. And I was so relieved. Entering a room full of people you don't know, or people you've already met, but you never came around to getting to know them properly, is always a horrible, horrible feeling.
You know that you do not belong into this kind of inner circle of acquaintances.You are an intruder, and even though they might try to incorporate you, talk to you, it feels weird. I never know which questions to ask, or what to tell them about myself that might be interesting for them, but not uncomfortable for me. 

Most of the time those situations end with me either slipping away to the bathroom, taking deep breaths, or me making my way to the food.

A lot of people might say that this is the perfect chance to meet new people, but for me it just means a lot of inconveniences. It is not really anxiety, but a deeply rooted feeling of uneasiness
Indisposition.

You never want to be person who sits around simply observing the people around you and just listenting to their conversations instead of engaging in them. Because at the end the host might worry if you are okay;
"I hope you had at least some fun tonight. Next time there will be more people your age, like my niece with her boyfriend."
What am I? A child? And how should this niece and her boyfriend improve my situation? Of course, it was meant well, but ill executed.

Maybe talking to people on a personal basis, especially strangers, is something I should practice, but it is honestly so hard. Once I start to talk to them my mind goes blank. There is nothing. No interesting question. No witty comment. 

The way I handled it was not the perfect way to get out of this situation, but the only one that seemed to work for me at the moment. I might have the courage to show up next year. Or I'll still invent some silly reasons to avoid confrontation, which is ultimately more likely.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Literary Autumn [Quotes]

original photo taken from stocksnap
Autumn has always been my favourite season. I love the chilly mornings and wrapping up in warm blankets and drinking more tea. While winter is sometimes a bit too cold and uninviting, autumn is the perfect mixture of cosiness and the cold. And apparently I am not the only one who is fond of this magical combination. 
I remember it as October days are always remembered, cloudless, maple-flavoured, the air gold and so clean it quivers.
Leif Enger, Peace like a River
Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical extant of autumn - that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness, that season which has drawn from every poet, worthy of being read, some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling."
Jane Austen, Persuasion
"Rain on roof outside window, gray light, deep covers and warm blankets. Rain and nip of autumn in air; nostalgia, itch to work better and bigger. That crisp edge of autumn."
Sylvia Plath
"Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting bout their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose f earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn!"
George Elliott
September slipped by into a gold and crimson graciousness of October.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Appreciation Sunday #17

Picture taken by yours truly during today's walk
Sometimes you have this moment where you feel so grown-up you can hardly believe it. And the fact that you actually enjoy it makes it even harder to believe. I had this moment on this lovely Friday evening, when I was chilling on my couch after work.
I had gotten myself a bottle of white wine and since Netflix just uploaded the 2014 season of the Great British Bake Off, I decided to open up this bad boy and just have a good time being by myself. It took me quite a few minutes to realize how sophisticated and mature this whole thing felt. I rarely get a bottle of wine just for myself, but it really is quite enjoyable. It feels a bit like buying flowers for your apartment just because you can and because it makes you feel good. But that's a thing only grown-ups do, right?

Looking back, today also felt like a "I'm feeling so much like an adult right now" kind of day, even though I slept in until 10 a.m. Being a lazybum I didn't do anything that interesting, but I still took some time to be productive. I hopped on the mat for 30 minutes of yoga, I read (which I normally only do before going off to bed) I took a nice walk and bought a piece of cherry cake at the bakery - again because I can, right?
Usually, I like to spend my days off literally doing nothing apart from feeding myself, thinking about feeding myself and watching Netflix and Youtube videos.

So, today was fairly different for me and a lot more enjoyable than last Sunday, which I had spent in a more "age appropriate" fashion:
Curled up on my parent's sofa with the dogs and the worst hangover since that dreadful last night in Korea in 2012 (the one where I decided that it would be a great idea to get drunk the night before a long distance flight - best idea ever!).

Ever since I started this blog I kept lamenting, because growing up is so hard and I still think that's true. The thought of getting older every day and losing that feeling of being young and carefree will always be scary, I guess. However, today I felt very much at ease with myself and the way I am right now. This might change as soon as I start working on my thesis and once I start looking for proper employment, but right now things are pretty good.
I even bought a rug for my bedroom for heaven's sake! If that is not grown-up, what is??

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Exploring Linderhof Castle

Picture taken by yours truly
Ludwig II. of Bavaria was probably one of the most excentric personalities of his time. His obsession with his namesake king Ludwig XIV. of France and anything baroque and romantic led to the construction of 3 remarkable castles. Last year I finally got the chance to visit Neuschwanstein and this year, we made a day trip to Linderhof, the only one of his ambitious projects, he was actually able to finish before his death.

Smaller in size than expected, this small piece of baroque extravaganza is situated on a large terrain surrounded by hills and mountains. Just exploring the grounds itself makes the trip worth it. Because of the sheer size of the area, you can spend almost an entire day there. 

The castle itself is at the center of a lovely garden. Both, the castle and the grounds, are modeled after Ludwig XIV.'s Versailles. Looking down from either side at the end of the garden, you can see that everything is in almost perfect symmetry. Statues decorate the entire garden and if you come in the summer, you will even get to walk in the shade of beautiful passages. 
Inside the castle, everything is as exquisitely kitschy as can be. The rooms are small, but decorated up to the tiniest corner with marble, tapestries and of course a bit of gold. You will also be able to see Ludwig's famous "Tischlein deck' dich", the dining room table, which could be transported downstairs easily, so that the king would not be disturbed and could fully indulge in his daydreams. Tours through the château take about 20-30 minutes. Dogs are allowed, but have to be carried. If you are fortunate enough to be a student, admission will be free. 
The view over the garden from the top of the cascade
The view from the south end of the garden
 Once you have finished the tour through the castle itself, you can walk around the area and take a look at the Venus Grotto, which acts as a set for Richard Wagner's "Tannhäuser". Supported by music, light and a play of colours, you can only imagine, what it must have been like for Ludwig, when he himself had spent his time there.
Not far away you will find the Moorish kiosk. I have to admit that it is rather weird to see a building like this within this very German and green scenery. It is a bit out of place, but is still nice to look at.
The Moorish kiosk
the only thing I was not able to see and which still aggravates me, is the Hunding's Hut, also modeled after one of Wagner's pieces ("the Valkyrie") and is also shown in Visconti's 1972 film "Ludwig".  I was very eager to see this place but well... sometimes life (or impatient parents) gets in the way. 
Strolling around the garden
the view toward the southern terrace
As with other attractions involving Ludwig II. it is advisable to avoid coming in August, as this is the busiest time of the year. When we visited Linderhof in September (during the week) there were still a lot of people, but despite that you could move around quite easily. 

After the slight disappointment at Neuschwanstein last year (mostly due to the fact, that you just get shoved through the castle without being able to really look around), I have to say that Linderhof was a lot more enjoyable. The castle is small and the tour is short as well, but there is still so much see I actually prefer it over Neuschwanstein. 
The entire castle and the grounds seem to be like a big playground mixing different styles of architecture and periods to suit the taste of a man who never seemed to fit into his own surroundings.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Anyone seen my Drive?

Original Picture taken from StockSnap
 The past few days have been really quiet over here.
After a real burst of creativity, where I wrote down a lot of prompts for my next blog entries and after finishing a tiring essay for university, I fell back into my usual slump of doing nothing. At this point I spend most of my days on the sofa watching Friends while only thinking about all the productive things I probably should be doing instead (like cleaning out my wardrobe or getting started on my master thesis). 

I was never the most productive person on this planet, but at times it becomes especially hard to focus on getting stuff done. And while it is certainly a good feeling to go to bed after a long, but successful day, I sometimes just prefer to lie on the sofa doing nothing, because I simply don't have the energy to do anything else.  It doesn't matter if we are talking about something academic, fitness related or around the house. Even this little space. Everything somehow gets neglected.

Looking at other people and the way they handle their daily life, this approach feels quite pathetic (the fact that the picture for this post is bigger than the post itself doesn't really help either). Yes, sometimes people to feel like doing nothing, but most of the time they still get their asses moving. 
Tomorrow, I actually have a day off from work, so I hope, I will be able to get back on track with my life.
Starting off with my wardrobe and getting rid of some other things I don't need. 

Wish me luck!
Cause I'm gonna need it real bad...