Guess whose birthday it is?

Today, the sun is shining in Berlin and the leaves have millions of different colours. It’s a gorgeous October day, surprisingly warm, and I’m happy.

I’m also a bit sad, because this is my co-author’s and best friend’s birthday and I can’t celebrate with her. So I had to come up with something else… and I decided on this blog post. After all, this blog is really our baby, our project, and I’m so happy we really started it after only talking about it for so long. When I think of her, the blog almost immediately comes to mind, so what better way to say happy birthday than with a blog post?

Of course, just saying happy birthday would be lame. So in honor of her 22nd birthday, here are 22 reasons why Ari is the coolest person in the universe and the bestest friend ever (yes, I KNOW that’s not a word).

  1. She’s the kindest person I know, and she always looks out for everyone else before she worries about herself.

  2. She’s got style. Lots of style.

  3. We’re usually the same dress size – can you imagine how cool it was to be roommates?

  4. When the sun comes out in spring, she basically overflows with excitement, it’s the cutest thing ever. It’s impossible not to be happy around her then – she can’t contain herself at all, and it rubs off on everyone else.

  5. She trusts me even when she’s worried I might judge her for something she tells me. The fact that she still opens up then means the world to me, and the fact that I can do the same makes her one of the most important people in my life.

  6. She does amazing hairstyles – and eye makeup!

  7. Getting ready for parties with her is usually even more fun than the actual party.

  8. She gets so enthusiastic about things – not just spring, but also TV shows or theater.

  9. Speaking of which, she’s a really talented actress. I’m not saying that because I have to support her as a friend, I’m saying it because it’s really true. So much comic talent.

  10. She makes me come out of my shell, not worry so much about embarrassing myself by doing really ridiculously random things, such as spontaneously dancing “Call Me Maybe” when there are at least 20 people around who might think that’s stupid. Who cares? Thanks, Ari 🙂

  11. She saved my ass by modelling for a photo shoot I had to do for class. I don’t know how I would have gotten that assignment done without her!

  12. She can walk even in the highest heels. I think it’s awesome, because it kind of forces me to wear heels as well sometimes in order to avoid looking like a dwarf. And then, of course, I look good. So that’s a great side effect.

  13. She’s the best study buddy ever. We can be super productive if we have to, and super unproductive if we don’t really care. Either way, study sessions usually involve instant noodles, diet coke and pringles. Oh, sometimes I miss college life!

  14. She is also the best Starbucks buddy in the world.

  15. And the best running buddy / motivator. I would have never done a 5k if it wasn’t for you!

  16. She makes the coolest birthday presents and surprises. Sorry, Ari, I know this one can’t really keep up with the video, or the whole “Day in Hamburg and surprise Bavarian food afterwards” thing (credit goes to the triplets as well for this). I promise, though, should we be in the same country again, I will organize something epic. And I mean truly epic.

  17. She doesn’t judge. Ever. I do some really dumb things (more so in the past but I still do). This goes with what I said about trust above, but it’s also who she is as a person. She doesn’t judge people easily. Unless they hate New York, then sorry, she WILL be judging.

  18. She’s not afraid to set me straight if I’m doing the above mentioned dumb things. She knows when to leave me to do what I feel like, even if it’s stupid, and when to actually sit me down and give me a serious no-nonsense talk.

  19. She’s the only person in the world to ever talk me into rapping for a class assignment.

  20. She ran to the store with me through a rainstorm, laughing the entire time. We came back soaked to the bones and water dripping from our clothes to the floor… it was the best thing ever.

  21. Germany’s Next Topmodel! We need to find a way to watch that together still, even if we’re so far apart. Also, that song we both spontaneously loved and that got stuck in my head from the show… aptly called “Stuck” (by Caro Emerald, if you’re interested).

  22. Because I got to #22 without having to pause and try to come up with more stuff. And because I’m sure there are a million reasons that I haven’t even mentioned yet. So I’ll just stop here, but please don’t take that to mean these are the only 22 reasons why Ari’s awesome.

 

So, Ariane, from halfway across the world – happy birthday!!

 

“Love is a growing up.”

“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”

This quote by James Baldwin is enough to make me want to read everything the man ever wrote. It’s been my Skype status for months now. I used to change that status every time I found a new quote I liked. The fact is, I haven’t found anything that rings more true for me than these words.

Love is a growing up.

In the last year or so, I’ve grown more than I can even begin to explain. I recently celebrated the first anniversary of a relationship that has changed my life in every imaginable way. And no, it was not easy. It wasn’t Hollywood, although it began kind of like the plot for a romantic comedy. You might say, how disappointing that it didn’t continue that way, but really, when the movie-feeling stopped, the real amazingness only began.

I know there are no guarantees for anything in life, but as uncertain as the future may be, I am absolutely sure of one thing: What I learned in this past year I wouldn’t have learned alone. It’s true you should be able to live and be happy by yourself, but you do need people to come into your life and shake things up, so that whether they leave or stay, you’ve changed and grown. Before this year, I was pretty convinced that I was not really the type who had relationships. I was never sure why that was, but it was sort of a fact of life that I did not question very much. You can imagine how much it took me by surprise when someone basically fell from the sky and wanted to stay – and for that to be someone I actually wanted to be with, too! I spent the first few months in utter confusion and disbelief.

Recently, as we celebrated our first anniversary on Skype (yes, long-distance is ANNOYING), I realized that my disbelief has never quite gone away. Sometimes I still expect to wake up and have dreamed this entire relationship. Sometimes, I wait for my house of cards to crash, not quite sure I can accept the fact that someone glued the cards together in these last few months. Sometimes I’m just plain scared. And then yes, love is a battle, not so much with the other person, but with your own demons and insecurities and fears.

But it’s also a growing up. And it helps me to remember – whatever happens, I’m a different person today than I was last year, and I dare say, a calmer and happier person. That alone is worth battling some demons on the nights I can’t sleep…

Family. Home. Happiness.

I have to go on a little bit of a rant… I wanted to post a list of things I love, it being Thursday, and as I started listing them, I realized they all centered around one thing today. That one thing is the feeling of being home.

I love that I have a crazy, warm, loving family, one that fights and argues and still manages to get along and have everyone sit together for weekend brunches. I love that they laugh about the silliest things, and tease each other, and yell at the cats for stealing the breakfast salmon, and complain about the snow, and make fun of my sister for being clumsy and my mother for being something very much resembling a zombie in the morning, and of me, for the excruciating slowness with which I drink my coffee. I love them to bits, and even if they annoy me sometimes, I could not have asked for a better mom, step-dad, brother and sister. My mom knows almost everything that happens in my life, she’s the one I turn to for advice about men and dating and love and friendship and the future. In turn, she comes to me for advice on how to set up her printer…

They’re a little messy, a little disorganized, a little overwhelmed by life at times, but they’re the best family one could have. My brother is the crazy brain who studies Math and will relate absolutely everything to some mathematical concept, leaving the rest of the dinner table rolling their eyes. My sister is the one who’s good with kids, who’s going to be an elementary school teacher and before that, an au pair in Australia. I’m the crazy one who decided to move away for university, who is better at English than her native tongue German, and who’s probably not going to come back and stay, at least not for very long.

And yet, every time I come home, it’s a refuge. I can catch my breath, reflect on my life, my goals, my relationships. I can recover from a break-up or entertain my siblings with stories of life at a campus university where everybody knows everybody else – depending on the mood. I become a kid again, spending entire afternoons trying (and consistently failing) to beat my siblings at Mario Kart (curse you, rainbow road!!), and I become myself again… taking long baths, reading lots of books, going for walks, finding my centre.

I am happy when I go out and explore the world. I love seeing new places, meeting new people, creating new goals, understanding new perspectives. Yet a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, and sometimes the sea gets rough. Relationships fail, goals shift, some dream I had is no longer achievable. Life knocks you around quite a lot when you’re in your early 20s. Especially in those moments, I am so infinitely grateful to have a support network to fall back on. It’s like that cheesy Hannah Montana song… (yes, it’s happening, I’m quoting Miley Cyrus…):

“But when the lights go down it’s the ending of the show
And you’re feeling like you got nowhere to go
[…]
when I’m feeling down and I am all alone
I’ve always got a place where I can go
Cause I know
You can change your hair and you can change your clothes
You can change your mind, that’s just the way it goes
You can say goodbye, you can say hello
But you’ll always find your way back home.”

End of rant… and end of cheesiness.

But seriously, there’s few things I could think of that I am more grateful for than this amazing family. If nothing else goes right, I’ll always have them to come home to and start anew…

It’s Thursday!

One of my favorite ways to kill time is browsing the net for inspiring tidbits of wisdom. That’s how I came across the concept of “Things I love Thursday”, one of many discoveries on an overall very cool blog.

“Things I love Thursday” is basically a gratitude list. By now, most of us have probably heard that keeping gratitude lists is a good way of increasing your overall happiness. But are any of you actually doing that? I know I don’t. Why? No idea. I think of it every once in a while and then I forget again. However, since this time I thought of it on a Thursday, I thought I might as well make my own little list of things that I love, especially this week but also anything else that comes to mind.

  • My coffee thermos. I hand-decorated it, and yesterday someone actually asked if they could take a picture of it because they thought it was so cool!
  • The claddagh ring my best friends got me from Ireland. It’s so pretty and so full of meaning.
  • Working in the office alone. I can play music and nobody cares.
  • Sparkly nailpolish.
  • Old movies.
  • My graphic design class.
  • Pinterest, especially for nail designs, style inspiration and boards full of graphic design.
  • Spending evenings with a friend or two, a bottle of wine and a heart-to-heart conversation.
  • Finding out you won’t have finals and can start your semester break two weeks early.
  • Coffee
  • Sleep

This was fun to write… I might just do it again next Thursday  (: