Spines & Stories

Finally, after having had some more than crazy days, I’m getting back to writing a prompt. Such a beautiful one, to it!

If you were one part human, two parts something else — another animal, a plant, an inanimate object — what would the other two parts be?

“We are all books, because we have spines and stories to tell.”

I really, really wish I could remember who said this to me. It was dropped in a conversation a long time ago and I remember how it struck me perfectly. Yes, one of my three thirds would definitely be a book, just as I believe everyone else is. A thousand words swirling, until they finally crawl up your spine and write your story, good or bad. No matter which direction life will take you, your story will be there. The words will never stop swirling and forming new plots; a genuine and unique blend of the things you lived through and the things you wish you had experienced, the things you wish hadn’t happened and the things you think you saw. It’s that perfect storm when you read through someone else’s story and finally discover what they are, what they are not and what they want to be. When you start to understand the inner workings of someone. We are all books, we are the sum of words and stories, inter alia.

My last third would be tea. Every blend of tea you can think of. That warm, comforting feeling, whispering that everything will be alright. I promise, I’m just as many million flavors. And steamin’ hot, of course. If you know what I mean.

All jokes aside, I might love books and tea a little too much. If you do too (at least the books-part), you should check out the bookaholics rehab – definitely a personal favorite.

Also, if you have taken the time to read this, leave me a comment with your favorite book and/or tea, one can never have enough of those!

– C

Chitchat with an ancestor

If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?

Unf. This is a really bad question to be answered by a German. Chitchat with our ancestors isn’t our biggest strength, since, you know, usually wars are involved. I really, really, have a hard time answering this question, but I suppose, an ancestor from times long passed would probably be shocked by the lax relationship my family has with each other.

Don’t get me wrong, of course the younger ones still respect the older ones, it’s just… all very easy. I like to have a glass of wine with mom or go to concerts with my dad. Also, there’s an unreal amount of divorce and re-marriage going on in my family, which is crazy cool, since I have a huge and super diverse family now, even though I’m only blood related to a few of them.

All in all, I definitely think morals and standards have changed and my ancestors probably would not agree with that. My family is a pretty charming bunch though, so he might just deal with it and get involved in the end.

– C

Is it wrong to have fun?

What’s the one guilty pleasure you have that’s so good, you no longer feel guilty about it?

For the longest time the biggest guilt I had was not being productive. I loved doing so many things, but in the back of my mind I was always  stressing out about just how much work I still needed to get done. I was the kind of girl that’s attached to her smartphone’s e-mail inbox on vacation or even has some sort of legal textbook with her when waiting for dinner at a restaurant. I ruined things for me and quite possibly others. So here it is, my guilty pleasure: Fun.

By now, I have come to understood that having fun is nothing bad, even when you have work to do. But do it right. Enjoy the time with friends, traveling, reading or doing whatever you like. The more you enjoy yourself, the more balanced you will feel when actually getting back to work. Stop stressing out so much, eventually, everything will fall into place. Have fun without your smartphone or books or laptop. Things can wait!

And then, after having had a great day/week/5 minutes – get back to work, take matters into you own hands and be productive like a champ.

– C

All I wish I had

What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you a year (or five or ten) ago?

Count. Your. Blessings.

The only advice I wish I had been given earlier. Maybe people even did advise me, maybe I was too young to understand. When you are a teenager, life seems infinite, friendships seem to never end and loss is a concept far in the future. Whereas some of us had to suffer through losing people early, I was, thankfully, not one of them. I grew up sheltered, but with a good grip on reality.

But standing here now, a good 10 years later, I start to realize that growing up also means parting ways with many loved ones for different reasons. Some die too young, some pass away, some just take different paths in life than you do, some change and some might not understand your changes. I wish myself back a few years ago way too often.

So wherever you stand in life, count your blessings now. Be aware of the things you have. It may not be much to you now, but ten years in the future it will probably be all you wished you had.

– C

And last, but not least,…

In your imaginary award acceptance speech (yes, we know you have one) who’s the very last – and most important -person you thank?

And last, but not least, I would like to thank my evil dwarf hamster Napoleon. You have listened to countless speeches practised before you, you have run over countless drafts (and peed on some), and you taught me that if one meets an obstacle one just has to keep gnawing all the way through.

Thank you for always pretending to consider the offers I practised in front of you and not biting me all that often.

This award is dedicated to you and your tiny little hamster feet. May you rest in peace!

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The Kindness of Strangers

I constantly and always have to remind myself to be less hostile towards strangers.

angels-in-disguise

Whenever I meet people I start hoping for the best but am expecting the worst. So today’s daily prompt gives me the chance to remind myself that strangers do not always become friends, but aren’t always scary either.

When was the last time a stranger did something particularly kind, generous or selfless for you?

The day I met Susan had been, quite frankly, horrible. In the middle of August of 2008, I was fifteen or so back then, I started my high school exchange semester in the US. I mind you, I was mid-puberty, dearly in love with another exchange student (whom I wound up dating for a few years after that, fun fact), about 8000 miles away from everyone I knew and stranded at the New York/ Newark airport. All flights had been cancelled due to a huge storm, my host family was waiting for me somewhere in Knoxville and I was all alone, bawling my eyes out because not even the Taco Bell guy understood my English (neither was I understanding him, for that matter). Being stranded for fourteen hours at a huge airport on a different continent where you are not even capable of buying a damn taco puts some perspective on things, I suppose. After having failed with Taco Bell but being starving due to 24 hours of traveling I scrambled up what was left of my dignity and tried to buy some sweets out of a press shop. Susan was in line behind me. When it was my turn she just mumbled “I got this.” and payed the very unfriendly clerk (Oh, New York). We started talking (alas, she started talking and I sobbed along), she and her family turned out to be the only other passengers on my connection flight. She distracted me, borrowed me her phone (because European phones have a tendency not to work in the US; why did no one warn me?) and called my host family for me. When we finally arrived in Knoxville, she made sure I found the people I needed to find, went and grabbed my suitcase and wished me good luck.

Susan wrote me a few e-mails after that, but we never particularly kept in touch. Just a few months ago I let her know how much this still means to me. No heroic deeds, nothing, but her distraction and affection was the only thing I ever needed in that moment.

By now, English feels like my native tongue. But for the love of god, I still can’t understand New York people. No tacos for me.

– C