End of May Day

Meet Bob - a rather shy fellow (he's a Maikäfer the German word for cockchafer which literally means May's beetle)
My dog (a tibet terrier - you just have to love this gentle and charming breed!) is trying to hide from the heat. 

Burg Eltz at the River Mosel is just a typical German medieval castle ---with a crane. Totally normal. 

After all this heat a little bit of rain isn't bad at all.  Double Rainbows are free of charge. 

So today was the last day of a sunny and rather hot May. Let's make a list and summarize:

- I had a lovely picnic with friends and the friends of said friends in the castle park in the middle of Karlsruhe. The place was swarming with maikäfer/ cockchafer and I absolutely had to get some pictures. In my home area of Germany those beetles are not existing anymore. Or at least when I was a kid there was no beetle to be found. Must have been the pesticides.

- I got to spent a long weekend with my parents at the river Mosel - a famous area for wine in Germany. My parents actually purchased quite a wagon load full and I got to do some test drinking as well. Not that I'm drinking that much alcohol. Ever. But it was quite delicious and it is a wonderful landscape. I actually got to see the castle Eltz, which I've been hoping to see for quite some time now. But sadly, as a German, you actually tend to forget your own country when traveling around.

- Last weekend I spent with wonderful people doing a creative writing workshop with an actual author! She was fabulous and we had quite the blast doing some writing exercises about "showing not telling" or "inner voice". Now I wish I'd joined the creative writing course earlier in my life. But it was always serious - meaning academic - writing for me up till now. (And I actually have been wanting to start a blog for quite some time now. But as we all now, this is time consuming writing as well...)

- Today I had another workshop about "self marketing". You know we Germans love crazy english vocabulary. (But Japanese are worse.) Well, I learned quite a bit and I can announce proudly that I am a yellow person, not a blue one. Thank god. No, really, I think this helped me quite a lot for my job hunt and my self presentation during job interviews.

- And: I actually got a job offer yesterday! It is just a hour based student job - so nothing all too special. It is with a popular shop brand that specializes in fake jewellery and I am a girl that loves everything sparkly. I may actually be liable to special prices once working there...

- But: I've got an inflamed wisdom tooth since friday and it is killing me. It just hurts so bad. I've been to the dentist twice already, but she can't do much. I'm sitting here with an ice pack to the side of my head - that's about as much as I can do. If it is getting worse I may end up taking penicillin, which I really don't wanna do, because my body functions (especially my stomach) totally crash if I swallow such stuff. Normally my body has amazing healing powers, but this tooth is very stubborn, too. I will have it removed as soon as it doesn't hurt anymore...

Aims for next month:
I definitely need to figure some columns out for this blog. Some more. And I need to create a schedule for writing more regularly. I really like writing here and I hope you find some pics and stories to your liking as well.
See you in June!


What I just found

I just browsed through my external drive, which I can't really use anymore as I switched from Windows to OS X last year. Well, obviously I could use it if I were willing to delete everything on it. But I'm not going to delete 6 years worth of photographs, Japanese television series and my master thesis just now. I bought a new terabyte external drive anyway.
  Well, I found a folder with scans of some of my characters. Please forgive my scanners lack of ability to scan properly. I drew those little character studies mostly during classes, when I was still a high school student. Psst, don't tell my teachers! You can see my sign at the corners and the year in which I drew them. Those three pics where drawn in 2001 and 2002, when my ability to draw manga characters was at its highest. I graduated in 2002 and went off to university to become a serious student. At some point I stopped drawing all together - I'm regretting that now. I lost 8 years of practice here!
Occasionally I'll start a picture or some forms with color only, but I soon realize that I'm lacking my feeling for the ART. Will it come back to me?
  Well, I try to develop my skills further and I don't want to get caught up in the "Manga trap" too much. So I tried other styles as well. But the Japanese influence is too strong I dare say. The last picture I'll show you today is from 2006, where I was deeply in love with Japanese Kimono. (Which I am to this day...)


Past Times and the Vanished Land

When talking to my friends from around the world I sometimes am able to have a glimpse into their world and what they are thinking. Even though my studies of other cultures have left me with the belief that we all around the globe aren't that different when it comes to feelings, needs and dislikes, there is a certain boundary we cannot gross. By all means, it is not a boundary we should wage wars against. It is a boundary of experiences and history.
  When traveling the world I always try to catch glimpses of these boundaries. I love my American family very much because they gave me the feeling that I could understand their experiences and history. I loved talking to them about their and my childhood adventures, dreams and the like. Still, as I never really experienced what it is like to be raised in the USA, the boundary stays firmly in place. This is nothing to be sad about. This is certainly nothing to judge other people or other countries about. Embrace it and learn about it. There are many stories to be found.
   I myself have been born and raised in a country that doesn't exist anymore. Still, my family is living at the same place we lived when I was born. Sounds like a contradiction? It isn't. I was born in the GDR - Eastern Germany, the socialist brother state of the Soviet Union. You know the history: Germany waged war; Germany lost; the winners divided the cake; my to-be-home-state was swapped for the western part of Berlin between the Americans and the Russians. My grandparents were simple farmers, mine workers, mechanics - they never owned much, but excelled in organizing stuff and building things with their own hands. My favorite grandpa Walter was a kick-ass inventor and I will talk about him a lot more in this column in the future. The pictures above where shot in front of his house. He had built it himself (with the help of my father and friends) in 1980.
   The pictures are in color, which was a rare thing in those days. Most of my children time pictures are black and white. Color photographs were too expensive and the pictures above just exist because relatives from Western Germany took them while visiting us. Yes, the baby and little girl are both me!

I want to show you more pictures from the old days and the country that (luckily) doesn't exist anymore.


Weekend off - the cat is in charge

Well, my servant is off with my older servants and the Dog over a long weekend. Leaves me to take care of everything. Great. I'll have some chicks over and we'll go goldfish fishing at the pond! Ah - sweet life it is, folks. What plans do you have for a sunny weekend? Having a picnic seems to be a good choice. Grab some sandwich, preferably with tuna, and sizzle some sausages on a grill right in the middle of a park. Maybe right in the middle of a park with a castle? In Germany there are plenty such places to find. But beware! Due to fire prevention measures BBQ isn't allowed in wild nature in Germany. Nobody really cares, though. A humans - they can be so troublesome. But what would I be without my faithful servants? Wait - who is taking care of my food supplies while they're gone?


A room I want to live in

Henriette over at kawaiicph brought olioboard to my  attention. A fine moodboard creator, where you can satisfy your fantasy about complete home make over or make under, or both. Just choose wallpapers, rooms, accessories, lightning - whatever holds your fancy and combine them to your ideal room. One can upload own photos, too.
Obviously this is something designed to sell overpriced furniture and stuff, but who cares? Dreaming is always allowed.


Japan Archives: Food

While I was eating breakfast today I found myself fantasizing about good Japanese cuisine. When it comes to food I'm not picky. I try almost everything at least once. As a German who loves Japan you get to hear a lot of silly questions about Japan when mentioning your addiction. So, naturally, one of those questions is "Aren't they eating really gross things? Like squid? (Yes. But it is actually yummy.) Or bugs? (No. At least not where I went.) Or dogs? (Excuse me??? That's the point were I really get mad.)"

Besides really obvious food choices in Japan like Sushi or Tempura, there is a lot to find and taste besides those mainstream choices. Take sweet food like those yummy looking, mouth watering manjū (pronounced mandschuu - at least for Germans...sorry, English speaking folks...) in the picture above. I can still almost taste them on my tongue. Well, almost.

Actually one can have quite western food, too. Like this super thick toast with butter and a hard boiled egg. The super thick toast always cracked me up. Actually I ate this at the Takeshita doori in Harajuku and it came as a bonus to my coffee - for free! It was the breakfast special. And once again I was amazed by Japanese service. But as a tourist you might want to search for more japanese food choices, like these: 

Every tourist in Japan will take at least one of those pictures with wax models of the offered food at a restaurant. Well, this is obviously a bento shop, where you can buy your lunch and take it with you. For tourists in Tokyo maybe the cheapest way of getting something to eat besides buying onigiri - little rice balls with fillings - at a conbini (little convenience stores, open 24 hours). A bento can consists of almost any food the Japanese cuisine has to offer, but as the picture show, cooked rice is a major part most of the times. I love bento! I've bought and collected bento cooking books and have managed to make myself bento at some occasions now. But, obviously, it can never be the same as...

...sitting on a bench outside of Waseda University Central library and having a lunch box from the Waseda coop in the bright spring sun. And a matcha latte! Oh how I would kill to have one now. Even better and a major source for addiction when being in Japan:

The Matcha cream frappucino at S*****cks. I need to get one as soon as my plane has landed in Narita. Or at least I would if I had the time in Narita. But you know how it is...getting your passport stamped, getting asked what kind of illegal stuff you did in your past ('fun' fact: As a German you always get asked wether you participated in Holocaust activities during WWII. Most of the time this question makes me scream. In my head, not literally. Otherwise they would take me into custody.) and what products you are smuggling today. Expert advice: Say no. The above picture was taken in a S. coffee shop on the highest floor of a marui city department store in Ikebukuro. You must know it is actually really hard to get a free seat in a S. coffe shop between 2 and 6 pm. Half of Tokyo is accumulating there. Obviously this super secret S. coffe shop I found last year hasn't seen many foreigners yet and they were super happy having me there as I was even able to speak Japanese and converse in a civilized manner. They even thanked me in the cutest way. How can one not love Tokyo after this?

Well, Tokyo isn't everything Japan has to offer. (Who knew?) And every region actually has other delicious specialities for which some Japanese would travel very far. Well, for these delicious looking gyoza one just has to board a train to Utsunomiya (ca. two hours from Tokyo). I ate them at the train station, out of all places. Yeah, Utsunomiya's gyoza are famous and just looking at the picture makes me totally want to eat some. The set meal above cost about 4 Euros - it's totally affordable.

*The pictures above have been taken during my last trip to Japan in March 2010.


Über den Wolken... (Above the clouds...- famous German song)

Flying with SAS from Frankfurt to Copenhagen - Kastrup Approach

Flying with SAS from Narita (Tokyo) to Copenhagen - Getting on plane in Narita
Getting off plane in Copenhagen
I love flying. I totally do. Alas, I can't afford it that often. But I won't complain as I was able to fly at least every second year or so since my first flight when I was 11 years old.
How I remember that day! It was a typical 'tourist bomber' headed to Gran Canaria and everyone clapped when we landed safely. I was so thrilled.
The whole process of going to the airport, checking in, getting on board is already super exiting for me to this very day. After settling into my seat I can't wait for the plane to leave its parking position. Then heading out to the runway. Gathering speed. And up we go!
Flying through clouds, seeing the bluest sky one can imagine. The sun. The sun going down. Russia - more precisely Siberia - at night with its UFO-like citys shining through the dark night clouds. The sun reappearing in red shades. The sharp turn over the coast line of Chiba. The bumpy ride over the golf courses of Narita. Final touchdown in Japan.
The Flight back towards Europe is done mostly during twilight. The interesting shapes of Siberian mountain ridges. Frozen rivers winding trough them. Finland and Sweden with its tiny frozen seas, that are glittering in the sun. It's marvelous!

Even after watching every episode of air crash investigation out there, I love flying. Well, sometimes even I get a queasy feeling in my stomach. Especially the approach to Copenhagen/Kastrup airport is quite unnerving to me. The water of the baltic sea is coming nearer and nearer and one can actually see the sea birds opening their beaks and flapping their wings! And exactly at that moment when you think you'll hit water for sure this time, the shore rises out of the water and the runway begins.
Approaching Frankfurt is slightly better, but the A3 (a large highway) is an obstacle to behold, too.
One of the most impressive approaches I had in Chicago in december 2008: The city's skyscraper appeared out of the fog and we flew right over them. I could see people jogging on the beach of Lake Michigan! And then the blinking christmas decorations in the front yards of the suburbs. It was just a sight to behold.

The pictures above are form my last flight to Japan last year in March with SAS. I actually love changing planes, because I can have the fun of take off and touch down twice. Copenhagen airport is my favorite airport out there as it has lots of wood used inside which is kind of relaxing for the stressed traveler.

At the moment I'm thinking about applying for jobs at the airport (Frankfurt) or even directly with an airline. Unfortunately, I'm not fit for duty on an actual plane as I'm not tall enough to reach the compartments. What a shame.



Fernweh means the urge to go somewhere far away and see new things and new places in German. I guess in these unsteady times I feel restless and want to change my place and fortune.
But no such luck at the moment. Instead I can walk to the main station from my tiny room in a shared student's apartment and watch the people arriving and leaving. In the evening the station building develops its very own charm. It's from the 1950's and has lots of huge glass windows where the sun will shine trough. Even though I don't like architecture from the 1950s (or 60s or 70s) very much, this station has won my heart.


Meow - the cat has spoken.

It is spring, people. Time to go out, chase after girls and fight off annoying rivals. Catching rats was more fun a few years ago, when we actually had some large one out there in the garden. But I don't understand why my humans aren't happy when I bring birds or frogs. I mean - hello? - one has to take what one can get, people! Remember that. And in the meantime - I'll take a nap on my favorite and expensive camel hair blanket.