Home Alone: Now what?

Dear reader,

I know that I have not exactly earned the title “blogger” recently. If it wasn’t for my long-distance roommate, I don’t think there’d be a blog any more. (THANK YOU ARI!) So just to catch y’all up on my life: I moved to Hamburg 6 months ago with my boyfriend. We’d been together a year at that point and we had basically spent the last months in Munich semi-living together, so we figured we were well-prepared for the 400 square feet of adorable apartment awaiting us. (There’s a small garden, too, but you can’t really count those square feet, since being outside is not so much fun in Hamburg in winter).

I can’t even count how many times I’ve earned utter disbelief when I’ve said that I can stand sharing this space with another person. But honestly, it’s perfect. I mean, we fight. We do. Overall, though, we’re one of those disgustingly close couples who hold hands wherever we walk, play footsies on the train if we have to sit across from each other rather than side by side, blow kisses at the other whenever we so much as leave the room to go to the restroom… you get the idea. We’re close. And moving to a city where neither of us had a close social network brought us even closer – to the point where we both realized we needed to actively spend some time apart from each other in order to build friendships and not become insanely codependent.

Picture a couple that’s this attached, and then imagine one of them suddenly has to leave town for four days. That’s exactly what happened. A family matter has required my significant other to go to our home town near Munich for OVER HALF A WEEK, leaving me ALL ALONE in our suddenly very big apartment.

I’m dramatizing, of course. We’ve been apart before. It’s just usually been me who left to go teach a seminar somewhere else for a weekend, or visit my family for a holiday that means a lot to them and not a lot to my boyfriend. So while we were apart, I usually had plenty of things to do with that time.

Now I’m sitting in our apartment with absolutely no “have to”s. I don’t have to work for another four days, I don’t have to go anywhere, I don’t have any extremely urgent tasks. In the morning, I had a mild panic attack wondering: What on earth am I going to do with my life for the next 96 hours?

Unfortunately, after 6 months, my social circle is very much still in the process of being built. I have tentative plans for coffee with someone I can’t call a friend just yet, and to be fair I have pretty epic Saturday night plans with one of my best friends from college who is in town with her cousins. But what about daytime? Netflix seems less fun without my cuddle buddy. Plus being lazy by myself feels lazier than being lazy with someone else. Because then at least you can say it’s “quality time”.

In case you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here’s a random list of things I did today or am planning for the following days… and after some brainstorming I have to say: Maybe four days will go by rather quickly, after all!

  • Gardening: I mentioned we have a garden, right? Well, it’s awesome, but a lot of work. Since the weather is nice and spring-y, I’ve been spending some time trying to make it prettier.
  • Bouldering: Well, that one’s a given, I go at least twice a week anyways. I had the advantage of being able to go early in the day today, when there were exactly two people excluding myself, so I had the walls more or less to myself.
  • Laundry: On my to-do list for today. Might as well get that out of the way.
  • Baking bread: I have an awesome-looking recipe I’m dying to try. Maybe I’ll even save some for the BF to try when he gets back. Maybe.
  • Playing computer games: I feel very antisocial doing this when I’m spending time home with the BF. Now I have all the time in the world to get my nerd on!
  • Freelance work: I actually do have a project I could work on. Maybe not having distractions around me is not such a bad thing 😉
  • Buying and painting a garden table: I spotted one at IKEA that is cheap and just needs a coat of white paint to go with the chairs. My project for tomorrow!
  • Crafting: This is a big one! I can’t properly do this with someone else in the room, because I feel self-conscious about both the work (I mostly do art-journalling, which feels rather private) and the mess I make in the process.

This plus social things plus boring things like grocery shopping… looks like I should stop hanging around on the Internet or I’ll never get everything done! I’ll be back… I’d say soon but let me just promise a shorter break between posts than last time. So long!

I Miss You

It has almost been 2 years since we’ve said good-bye. I think it’s good that neither one of us knew back then how long it would be until we’d see each other again. It made parting a little easier. It gave me the illusion that I would see you again in no time. Instead, I have been missing you every single day for the past, almost, 2 years. So, I wanted to say thank you.

Thank you for being you and for letting me be me. Thank you for letting me feel so much like myself when I’m with you. Thank you for not making me wear any masks or put on any fronts. Thank you for sharing in my happiest moments, and for genuinely feeling the same; for listening to my saddest stories and radiating compassion and empathy from wherever you are.

Thank you for just showing up at my door that one night, in your soccer gear, refusing to leave me alone. Thank you for running to the pulse with me, getting prepped for that movie night. Thank you for making me smash those balloons and for that moment when we formed the plan of interning in New York City. Thank you for helping me make that happen.

Thank you for the laughs, for the cries, and for everything in between. Thank you for being my rock, my anchor; for keeping me grounded when I feel like I might otherwise blow away. Thank you for knowing my favorite ice cream flavor and what song I would die for. Thank you for always knowing what to say and for being one of life’s best teachers. Like I’ve said- if I end up married and with children, it is greatly because you have changed how I look at those things.

Thank you for helping me through really dark times. Thank you for the summer of 2012 and everything we learned from it. Thank you for making me reflect on myself and how I fight and make up with people. Thank you for setting the bar so high and making it impossible to find another friend as good as you. Thank you for making the four short years we have been friends feel like forever and for giving me enough memories to last a lifetime, but not ending there. Thank you for making me hurt when I miss you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the absolute privilege and honor of being able to call you my best friend; thank you for being my person. Thank you for giving me these reasons, and a million more, to be thankful for.

Forever and Always,

Your Best Friend

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

– Mark Twain.

A conversation I’ve recently had with my boyfriend, made me reflect a little on my life aspirations. I grew up in a family where the absence of money was always an issue, I saw how my parents really struggled to get us by and how it wore both of them down. Because of that, I was taught from early on to look at friends whose parents had more money and to understand that their families were happier than mine because of that.

And that’s what growing up entails! We all have experienced things in our childhood that put us down in some way or another and that have shaped our aspirations. Some of us want to earn a lot of money because we didn’t have any growing up, some of us want to break free and travel around the world because we’re sick of our parents telling us what to do with our lives. Some of us are put down by our skin color, through subconscious discrimination; boys by locker room conversations, girls by pictures in magazines.

So we become insecure, which leads to viewing ourselves in terms of others—their accomplishments and habits, their wealth and their happiness. We compare.

Well, let’s compare. On social media, I post about traveling to Hawaii for business or instagram a picture of a “casual Friday night team outing” where me and my colleagues just have a blast. Or that birthday party in that hip beach bar where we all look young and successful and accomplished. From the outside, it probably looks like my whole life is just one hell of an opportunity- I have my own company credit card, am traveling for business, am being forecasted a managerial position in the medium run. If others compared themselves to me based on the above, the conclusion might be that I am on a promising career path and very lucky. When I compare myself to others, I see them being happier, more fulfilled and more excited about their jobs and I get jealous.

I am starting to realize though that I can’t compare myself to others because: I’m not them. I don’t have their mind or experiences or life, so why should I care if I’m earning just as much money as them or wear the same clothes they have? Why should I envy them for being passionate about their jobs, for having projects that are a matter of heart not money, for living in the moment? The spectrum of my perception, experience and existence should begin and end with me. It shouldn’t matter what others do or what they have.

Sure, others have more advantages or opportunities than you, but that’s their life, and it doesn’t apply to yours. Sure, your life could be better, but anyone’s life could be better. And even more than that, things could be worse.

And so, instead of looking around me to make sure I’m “on track for the career” I should focus on maximizing my situation, and what I have been given in life.

Finally, on the question of the people you are jealous of—do they suffer? Are they happy? Everyone suffers. No one is perfect. Everyone loses both parents. Everyone sees something they worked towards fail. Living is going through pain. Everyone’s life is simply normal to them, and full of both happy moments and sad ones. We need to remember though that we are behind the wheel. Where we go, how fast we go and what route we take to get there doesn’t matter, as long as we go! And I’m gonna try to do just that, instead of complaining about not being where I want to be while everyone around me seems to.

 

The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”

 

by
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
copyright © 1999 by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

Hawk Hill

I haven’t been sharing much about favorite or must-see spots in SF and the Bay Area lately. But I am back with a BOOM! Having recently decided that I will return to Europe after my work-visa ends this September, I immediately started making a bucket list of all the things I still need to do and see around here. And there is still a lot to explore!

One of the items on my list was a bike ride up to Hawk Hill, in the Marin headlands across the bridge, to catch the sunrise from there. And so I did. Getting up at 5am on a Saturday might not be your definition of a perfect start into your weekend at first. But lo and behold, what’s ahead of you will be one of the most gratifying rewards for early birds like you!

My boyfriend and I cycled from the Sunset district through Golden Gate, the Presidio and across the bridge. Hawk Hill was tough for someone like me with little practice in climbing. The elevation is 8% at times and I was cursing like a sailor. Don’t get me wrong, of course you can also take a car up there and get a similarly amazing experience. But there was something very magical about riding through a completely deserted city, having the streets all to yourself and not dealing with annoying tourists on the bridge. The 2-3km of climbing up HH is a bitch but do ride all the way to the top. After an hour, we were there and could take in the city on this completely clear morning. A pictures sometimes says a thousand words, so here are six thousand words for you:

Waiting for the sun to rise

Waiting for the sun to rise

Taking in the awakening city, bathed in pink and orange. You can even see Sutro Tower!!

Taking in the awakening city, bathed in pink and orange. You can even see Sutro Tower!!

The San Francisco skyline.

The San Francisco skyline.

Sunrise from Hawk Hill

Panorama view of the sunrise from Hawk Hill

It's called Golden City for a reason!

It’s called Golden City for a reason!

Golden State of Mind...

Golden State of Mind…

 

So, when in SF, try fitting this experience into your schedule!!

Cheers,

Ari

What NOT to do when riding Muni during Rush Hour

There are a couple unwritten rules one should follow when riding Muni. And there are certain unspoken expectations your fellow passengers have in you when you ride it during Rush Hour. Overcrowded platforms and crammed trains simply do not allow any social faux-pas. I have compiled a guide for you on how to properly ride Muni during those stressful hours based on situations I have observed while commuting.

1. DO NOT stand in the middle of the platform gesturing like a crazy person.

There are people around you EVERYWHERE. And one would think that hitting strangers left and right would be enough of a reason for those gesturing crazies to stop, to cease teir ridiculous way of making a point with both their hands and feet. But no. Some people have a hard time getting that message. My bruise is still healing off…

2. DO NOT clean your ears while riding Muni.

I don’t care how carefully you are trying to hide your Q-tip, I CAN WATCH YOUR REFLECTION IN THE WINDOW! It’s 8am, I am crammed into a car with strangers, I do not need you cleaning your ears right next to me on top of all that! That’s what bathrooms are for.

3. While we’re at it, DO NOT pick your nose so obviously…

… and then reach out with the same hand that had just searched for boogers in your nostrils to press the stop button. Just…don’t. I need to push that button next and I am at the point where I might just keep on riding until someone else eventually requests a stop.

4. One last thing about body hygiene, DO NOT clip your toe nails on the train.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but I am appalled by the thought of having a piece of your toe nail get accidentally shot in my direction. Again, that’s what bathrooms are meant for.

5. DO NOT pretend to sleep so you don’t have to give up your seat.

You know who you are! All you people sitting on the seats reserved for elderly or disabled, shutting your eyes just before the train rolls into the next station. Pretending you don’t realize what’s going on around you because you are oh, so sound asleep. And then opening your eyes again right after the seating fight mayhem is over, only to repeat it all over again at the next station. You’re pathetic.

6. On that note, DO NOT pretend not to see a girl in need for a seat.

Hey, not gonna lie. I would like to enjoy my 30 minutes on the train sitting, instead of being pushed back and forth by other passengers. I carry a heavy bag. I am wearing heels. If you see me getting up to offer an older person my seat, and you are a guy, would it be too much to ask to at least offer me your seat? Kindness pays forward!

7. DO NOT try to talk me into a free Jesus-Magazine Subscription

Independent of religious beliefs, neither 8am nor 6pm are good times to talk me into something I have never heard off, will never need and am absolutely not interested in. Especially after I politely decline two times in a row. There is only so much patience you can ask from me while I commute.

8. DO NOT spit on the platform.

Again dude, people everywhere! Somebody will inevitably walk through your freaking spit by accident. Have a tissue on you or wait until you’re outside or near a sink. Come to think of it, most of the typical Muni issues could be prevented through a more frequent use of bathrooms and all they have to offer.

9. DO NOT sit with your legs wide apart…

…blocking off two more seats than necessary. Can’t you SEE that people are tired and just seek the comfort of their own little 646 sq inches?!

10. DO NOT cut the line at a platform.

We have all been waiting in this line, at this platform for a reason, we would all like to get into the next train, we are all trying to be patient. Nothing is more annoying than an overly self-righteous person who just walks straight past everyone, almost pushes the person closest to the doors out of the way and then cuts corners to get a head start on a seat.

 

True story. I have observed all these things listed above in the past weeks- and some even more than just once. Public transport is already annoying as is, let’s all at least try to contribute our share to making it a little more bearable. ‘Kay? Thanks for riding Muni!

Cheers,

Ari

The Unexpectedly Wonderful Thing about Long Distance Friendships…

…is that the long-awaited moment of a reunion will eventually come around! After having had more miles and countries between you for much longer than you could have ever imagined, you can finally substitute that heart emoji on Whatsapp for a real hug. And no matter how long you haven’t seen each other, it will feel like grad ball was just yesterday.

Judith, the co-author of this blog, and I got to see each other in Hamburg after 1.5 years of having actively used all social media tools imaginable to stay in touch. We had 13 hours before I had to catch my flight back to San Francisco and a lot of catching up to do. I got to go to Vapiano with her, just like we used to after a long, much-dreaded final in college. We totally killed a bottle of our favorite wine. We watched the latest episode of one of our favorite TV Shows. We laughed at how old we had gotten when the planned allnighter ended at 3am due to severe tiredness. In the blink of an eye, it felt like we were roommates again. Except, she got herself a roommate upgrade- a handsome and witty guy she calls boyfriend. I approve of him because he took really good pictures of us that night and patiently endured Judith’s and my moments of girly squeakiness.

We wanted to share this moment of reunion with our beloved readers and let you know that more longdistanceroommates adventures are yet to come!

First hug caught on camera

First hug caught on camera

Le boyfriend, our triplet and Vapiano

Le boyfriend, our triplet and Vapiano

PLL and Hugo...college throwback.

PLL and Hugo…college throwback.

Judith, another one of our bests college friends, and I

Judith, another one of our bests college friends, and I

 

Early-morning goodbye at the airport :(

Early-morning goodbye at the airport 😦

 

See you…whenever Judith, I am already looking forward to that unexpectedly wonderful moment ❤