Throwback Friday: Romance in a one-way street

I wrote my very first blog entry in August 2005. I was nineteen, the internet was still relatively new at that time and blog-tools, that one could use for free, were very rare. It was exciting. For every entry I wrote into my live journal I selected a specific song that was listed above the article itself and matched the topic I tackled in my text. Often my entries were extremely personal and related directly to stuff that had happened to me at that time. Most of the time I remained true to my core theme: love in all its facets. Unfulfilled love, love gone to pieces, long- and short-term relationships, having crushes on the most impossible people or relationship-stuff that had happened to me or somebody I knew. There is one text that still speaks to me very strongly since its thesis remained stuck in my head for all those years. I want to re-post it here, although it is in German and the movie-reference is outdated (I still love this movie, though, you should check it out if you haven’t seen it yet). It’s about unfulfilled love and why this can sometimes be so damn romantic.


Woody Allens aktueller Film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” bietet alles, was ein perfekter Film für mich enthalten muss: eine verzaubernde Geschichte, schöne Bilder, grandiose Schauspieler und interessante Gedanken, auf die ich selbst noch nicht gekommen bin. Einer dieser interessanten Gedanken manifestiert sich gegen Ende des Films, als sämtliche Beziehungen zerbrochen sind und die Protagonisten mit letzter Kraft versuchen die Scherben ihres seelischen Trümmerfeldes beiseite zu räumen. Als Erklärung, warum wir alle immer wieder destruktive Beziehungen eingehen, uns das Herz brechen lassen und immer wieder aufs neue hoffen, dass Menschen sich ändern, wird hier eine sehr sinnige und zutiefst melancholische Begründung geliefert: Nur unerfüllte Liebe kann romantisch sein.

Je mehr ich über diesen Satz nachdachte und ihn einsickern ließ in meinen Sumpf der vergangenen und aktuellen Erfahrungen, umso bewusster wurde mir, wieviel wirklich darin steckte. Ist es wirklich die Suche nach Romantik, die dafür sorgt, dass wir uns in Menschen verlieben, die wir nicht haben können? Ist es die Sehnsucht nach Sehnsucht, die uns die Kraft gibt, über einen langen Zeitraum hinweg alles für einen Menschen zu geben, ohne, dass man etwas zurückbekommt? Ist es wirklich ratsam, die Geschichte des leidenden Werther für sich selbst neu zu schreiben, nur um intensive Gefühle zu erleben?

Beschäftigt man sich ein wenig mit dem Begriff der “Romantik”, so stellt man schnell fest, dass diese besondere Epoche der Zeitgeschichte geprägt ist von genau denselben ambivalenten Elementen, die auch diese These beinhaltet. Das “Schöne und Erhabene” als Kernaussage der Romantik bezeichnet alles, was den Menschen fasziniert, ihn reizt, anregt und geheimnisvoll wirkt, als das Ideal. Perfektion ist der Tod und wird als langweilig angesehen.

Die unerwiderte Liebe ist somit ein nicht perfektes Beziehungsgerüst zwischen zwei Personen, das inspiriert und den Liebenden zu Höchstleistungen antreibt.

Liebe wird definiert als ein “Sinn für- und Glaube aneinander”, dessen größter Ausdruck die Hingabe ist, wobei diese durchaus auch nur einseitig erfolgen kann.

In der Romantik war die unerfüllte Liebe ein die Sinne anregender Zustand, der die Liebenden durch den wohligen Genuss des sich-in-Melancholie-suhlens belebte. Ist es heute auch noch so? Wenn ich zurückdenke an die letzten Jahre, dann muss ich mit etwas Widerstreben selbst zugeben, dass auch ich die romantischsten Gedanken und Gefühle meist in Zusammenhang mit einer einseitigen Liebe erlebte. Oft ist es gefühlsmäßig viel intensiver jemanden von der Ferne aus anzuschwärmen, als dann mit ihm im gemeinsamen Bett zu liegen. Vielleicht sind es die ganzen Fantasien, Hoffnungen und Erwartungen, die wir bei der unerfüllten Liebe auf den anderen projizieren, welche die Romantik nähren. Denn ist man dann erst einmal zusammen, holt einen die Realität leider oftmals sehr schnell ein und zerschlägt all die Luftschlösser, ehe man sie überhaupt komplett aufgebaut hat.

Hört man sich bezüglich dieses Themas ein wenig um, so stellt man schnell fest, dass die meisten Menschen sehr desillusioniert mit dem Thema Romantik umgehen. Bei einem Dreh im Staatstheater sprachen sogar die derzeitigen Hauptdarsteller des Stücks “Romeo und Julia” auf eine sehr nüchterne und leicht verzweifelte Art über ihre Beziehungserfahrungen. “Mit 18 war das anders…jetzt bin ich realistischer und vorsichtiger geworden” sagt der Romeo-Darsteller. “Alles für die Liebe aufgeben…. das würde ich heute nicht mehr. Es kommt sogar vor, dass ich mich aus einer Beziehung zurückziehe, wenn die Gefühle zu intensiv und mir gefährlich werden könnten.”

Aber selbst wenn die Liebe unerfüllt ist und einseitig bleibt – nimmt man nicht immer etwas für sich selbst mit, und wenn es nur die Romantik ist? Ich für meinen Teil bin froh festgestellt zu haben, dass man sich auch nach einer Serie von liebestechnischen Misserfolgen noch genauso stürmisch und vorbehaltlos verlieben kann wie mit 16. Man kann diesen Mechanismus unterdrücken und verdrängen, aber verlernen kann man ihn niemals. Und wer weiß, vielleicht hält die Romantik ja auch irgendwann länger an, als nur in der Anfangsphase einer Beziehung. Einen Versuch ist es immer wert.

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The one time I was unreasonable or: Two nights at the Marina Bay Sands

Some things are really hard to justify: A third piece of chocolate cake on a single afternoon, staying in bed after having slept twelve hours already, skipping the gym in order to binge-watch the third season of “Love” on Netflix – and spending six hundred Euros on two nights in a hotel in a city where you could have rented a totally fine Air BnB for ten percent of this hilarious sum of money. But sometimes you have to be unreasonable. And as so often, it’s worth it (I am virtually winking at you right now). But first let’s back up a little.

One cold winter night in Nuremberg, after having visited the gorgeous Christkindlesmarkt, I was told by a colleague that the famous infinity pool crowning the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore has recently been made accessible to hotel guests only – which came as quite a shock to me since I had planned to go up there during my vacation in Singapore and shoot some awesome pictures of all those rich people swimming 191 meters up in the air. Solution-oriented as I am (yes, I am winking again) the first thing I did back in my hotel the same night was to fire up Google and check out the prices. The second shock was not long in coming: The prices for even the most basic rooms were beyond everything I was prepared to pay. So I went to sleep, disillusioned and a little annoyed. To cut a long story short: two months later I booked a room anyway. Why? I had been carrying the thought of not seeing this gigantic pool and the view from the top of the hotel with me for two full months. And just as you should throw out things you haven’t touched or used in while, I believe you should try to make the things happen that get stuck in your mind for a certain amount of time. So I whipped out my credit card and made it happen.

The room

The most unbelievable thing happened upon checking in: we got an upgrade and were given a fancy premier room on the 40th floor with a view of the Gardens by the Bay. 
A-m-a-z-i-n-g. You can see the room in the picture gallery below, it featured sand-colored interior design, a curtain that opened and closed automatically whenever you entered or left the room, a stylish lightning concept, a little balcony, a huuuge bathroom with a separate shower-room, a freestanding bathtub, well-scented organic bath products, slippers and bathrobes, free mineral water and basically everything else that makes the few times you stay at your room during a vacation and are actually awake more pleasant. Also, at night there was a wonderful peace and quiet so that one could sleep well. I loved it. Another special feature: the chambermaids created little towel elephants that they placed on the bed – check out the cutie below.

The pool

Words cannot give enough credit to what it feels like to swim in this pool and enjoy the incredible view from the top. I am not exaggerating. We were lucky weather-wise and experienced a beautiful sunset whose colors were reflected in the water and made the atmosphere even more magical. We went from blue skies to shades of bright orange and finally deep purple (wordplay not intended) with scattered clouds. It was definitely one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen in one of the most special locations on this planet.

What else can you expect? The pool was not as crowded as I had feared, but be prepared to see lots of people posing and taking selfies for a tremendous amount of time. Also, do not be scared to turn into one of them yourself, since nobody should leave this place without at least one goofy picture at the edge of the pool.

The rest

Besides nice rooms and the infinity pool there a lot of other things that make staying at the Marina Bay Sands worthwile:

  • Since the Marina Bay Sands is right next to the Gardens by the Bay you can easily walk there, which is quite convenient and definitely a nice way to spend an afternoon.
  • In the food and shopping complex adjacent to the hotel you can choose between 65 different restaurants – most of them extremely expensive – and an innumerable amount of luxury brands shops. I cannot recommend any shops since shopping is not my thing, but I had very delicious dumplings at Din Tai Fung. Going there during the main lunch and dinner hours is not a good idea because people will be queuing and you will have to wait first for a table and then for your food – so try to come somewhere in between. We got a table right away at 4pm and waited for our freshly made dumplings half an hour.
  • Even if it should be a matter of course in such a hotel, I would like to emphasize that the service was very good. The people at the reception were very nice and helpful and also the check-out went smoothly without a long waiting time, although there were a lot of people who wanted to check-out as well. It was no problem to store our luggage till 8pm the same day and we were also offered to take a shower at the gym before the taxi took us to the airport.

And since pictures tell more than a thousand words – enjoy 🙂

 

Hot stuff in Singapore

Traveling large distances always seems very magical to me. You step on a plane, wait for a couple of hours and end up someplace totally different – for example in Singapore, if you’re lucky. Singapore is way more than just a stop-over city. During my 3-week vacation in March I have spent seven days and six nights in Singapore and I have not run out of cool places to see or awesome stuff to do. Since a lot has been written about this great city and its main attractions already (the Lonely Planet offers a solid information basis, as usual) I would like to tell you about my personal favorite places beyond the mainstream that include the most amazing coffee shop (believe me, I have tried a lot of different coffee shops!), the cutest bookstore selling mainly poetry and hand-stitched notebooks, the best place to indulge in some insanely delicious (and expensive) cake paired with an insane city view, the nicest location for some quiet time in this busy city and where to eat the best Michelin-starred hawker food.

But first, coffee! – at “Free the robot”

You know I love coffee and I never leave out an opportunity to taste a new coffee-creation, especially when traveling. So, in Singapore, while I was strolling through a district called “Outram”, I came across this very cute coffee shop called Free the robot that is located on a beautiful street called “Telok Ayer”. The first thing I noticed was the creatively painted exterior wall that featured a red robot that reminded me a bit of the Android logo (in a positive way, of course). Sneaking a peak into the cafe I noticed a very hipster interior design that featured dark wood and retro furniture, combined with awesome graphic art featuring the little robot. So obviously I had to go in and check if the taste of the coffee matched the very appealing appearance of this place. And yes, it did! I ordered the Free the robot signature coffee that contained coconut oil that had been fused into the coffee, as the friendly lady behind the counter explained to me upon asking – and mhhh, what a treat! I have never tasted anything like this before. If you are not into hot drinks while having to endure hot temperatures I can also recommend the cold brew that comes in a flask, as you can see in the picture in the gallery below. It tastes slightly sour and will cool you down immediately. Make sure to plan a coffee break when you are in the neighborhood.

Food for thought at BooksActually

While some girls can spend hours hunting for clothes in huge department stores I can easily spend hours browsing through bookshelves – especially if a bookstore is as nice as BooksActually in Tiong Bahru, a very cool district of Singapore. I usually buy one book for my book collection when I am traveling to places far away, but at BooksActually I really had to restrain myself from piling up books in my arms until I probably would have exceeded the maximum weight of my suitcase allowed for the flight home. Not only was this bookstore unbelievably cosy and well curated, it also featured a vending machine where you can purchase a “mystery book” if you are passing by (you can see the vending machine in the picture in the gallery below).

BooksActually sells all kinds of books – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art and design, travel guides and much more. They also have a little room in the back – guarded by two adorable cats – where you can find little presents or souvenirs to take home. I decided to buy a poetry book with the very promising title Poems for a world gone to shit that you can also order in the online shop if you feel the need to “to make even the most f**ked up times feel better”. And if you manage to head there physically to choose your own book grab a cake at the nearby Plain vanilla bakery afterwards. It will be the perfect afternoon.

20 layer chocolate cake at “Lavo”

You might already have seen the picture of the giant piece of chocolate cake in the gallery below, but: the picture actually does not give credit to this piece of cake because it was so BIG that no normal human being would have been able to eat it in one sitting without passing out due to an overdose of blood sugar. But I need to start from the beginning.

So I had booked two nights at the Marina Bay Sands (there will be a separate post for this memorable experience) and after checking in I had a craving for cake. The first thing you do at this awesome hotel is of course to check out the rooftop pool (which is only accessible to hotel guests, by the way) and the rooftop restaurant which is called Lavo. Upon investigating Lavo’s menu I found a very promising dessert section that listed a slightly expensive “20 layer chocolate cake”. Although twenty-four Singapore dollars seemed a lot to me I thought “What the hell, it’s the Marina Bay Sands” and ordered it. A few minutes later a lady with a black minidress that barely covered her buttocks handed me a plate with a piece of cake the size of my forearm. After having overcome the first shock I dug my fork in this creamy, peanutty chocolate-wonder and enjoyed it all: the sugary taste, the view from the top of this architectural masterpiece and the feeling of being a completely spoiled, perfectly happy human being. This bliss of course ended after five bites because your body can only take so much sugar – but the lady with the short dress packed the remaining two thirds of the cake in a to-go bag for me and thus I was able to extend the enjoyment of my cake two more days. So all in all the giant piece of cake was worth it’s price and matched the giantness that is the Marina Bay Sands very well – an experience to remember.

Swing yourself to rest at Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning Park is probably a location that is listed in every major travel guide for Singapore. It is an “…iconic hilltop landmark [that] has witnessed many of Singapore’s historical milestones. The hill once sited the palaces of 14th century Kings and served as the Headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army Barracks.” If you are not as keen on historical details as I am it will be enough to know that this park is an oasis of peace and quietness that will let you escape the city hustle for a while. There is a big lawn on top of the hill with beautiful trees and a few Hollywood swings where you can sit and relax and calm down. Have a look at the picture below – it was my favorite spot this particular afternoon.

Hawker Chan’s chicken in soy sauce

A few days before my holiday a former neighbor of mine, who happens to be an Asia-expert, mentioned that there is a guy selling hawker food in Singapore who has been awarded a Michelin star for his exquisite chicken in soy sauce. Upon googling I found lots of reports and reviews about Chan Hon Meng and his famous Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle dish – so of course I had to go there and check it out! You can find Hawker Chan’s restaurant right in Chinatown surrounded by various other stalls and restaurants. Since he got very famous over the past year you have to expect a queue and a short waiting time before you can indulge in your chicken in soy sauce (check out the picture of the dish below). This taste experience in Chan’s rather modest restaurant will cost you only a few Singapore dollars and it will be something you remember – because where else would you get a Michelin-starred meal as delicious as this for this price? Sure enough, the serving is not very large, but look on the bright side: this way you’ll be hungry enough to try even more of Singapore’s awesome cuisine.

Leadership skills or: lessons for life I learnt from Salsa dancing

Last Friday night I did something very unusual: I went Salsa dancing. After returning home from work I quickly changed clothes, picked up my fifteen-year-old dancing shoes (cream-colored with a heel hight of ten centimeters and slightly worn out) from the back of my closet, stuffed them into my handbag and – after having had a delicious all-you-can-eat-Sushi-feast at Nagoya with some friends – went dancing.  It was a strange feeling, since I hadn’t been out to dance in ages. And by “dancing” I don’t mean jumping around the gym on my own to crazy Zumba music (which I do all the time) or shaking my booty in the strobe lights of some club – I mean performing actual synchronized dance steps together with a partner without looking too dorky or stepping on each others toes all the time. And what can I say? It was awesome – not only in terms of fun, but also regarding the things dancing can teach us when it comes to leadership and communication. Yes, you read correctly: leadership and communication are key, just like at work, in private and in our everyday lives.

Lateral leadership

Unlike at work or in a relationship, the roles we have when it comes to dancing are predetermined from the beginning: the man is the leader and the woman is the follower. As an independent and modern woman this might bug me little bit, but a skilled man will lead his partner in such a way that she does not feel patronized or pushed around. Actually, there is a management concept called “lateral leadership” that totally matches the way a good male dancer should act. Wikipedia says: “Lateral leadership describes a situation of leadership without direct authority to issue instructions. […] Lateral leadership is mainly based on trust and understanding through the creation of a common framework of thought, in order to unite possibly different interests of the parties involved in a sustainable way. ” Heavy stuff, but if you think about it – this is exactly how, whilst dancing, a man should treat his partner: without giving explicit instructions, but simply by applying little nudges based on their common framework (the dance steps and variations they have learnt), the man can lead the woman to do what he wants (in this case: certain dance moves). In the end both partners can reach their common goal: to make it gracefully through the song without anybody getting hurt (this would be the “sustainable way”) and – ideally – without the lady feeling less independent.

Executive communication

Another thing that struck me as very fascinating was how  seamless the communication worked between me and my partner – without talking. You obviously cannot converse a lot while you are dancing because of the loud music and the fact that you have to concentrate on your own movements and the subtle nudges of your partner that are supposed to lead to nice variations. I actually enjoy shutting up and communicating on a non-verbal level only (since this is quite the opposite of what I do in my job and, basically, everywhere else). But it only works on the premise that both partners are sensitive to the signals their counterpart sends out: dancing is all about body language and picking up the little hints resulting from your counterparts posture, tensed muscles and maybe also facial expressions, which is why I was surprised how well it worked without any training at all. Coming to think of it, dancing with a partner for me contains all the features a good relationship should have: trust, equality, tension (the good kind of tension that fosters personal development), a common rhythm, shared interests and some level of non-verbal understanding. If you have all that with your partner, what can go wrong?

Teambuilding measures

When it comes to dancing, a man and a woman need to be a team. There is no way they can sweep over the dance floor without cooperating with each other. They need to laugh away little mistakes, listen to each other carefully and they must not get tired of starting all over again and again. So – to learn how to dance as a couple is, in my eyes, the best way to make two individual people feel united. And maybe the whole thing can also be scaled to more than just two people. Thinking about all the silly team building events and workshops I went through in the past years I cannot remember one single time where I thought: “Yes, this is something I am gonna pick up and use in real life.” Instead I have always felt that there must be a simpler, more natural way to create team spirit. Maybe the bits and pieces that you need to apply to dance your way through the night can be used to generate a sense of belonging together at the workplace as well: respectful, subtle and almost-not-noticable leadership, the concentration on and communication of common goals, a big portion of humor and the willingness to listen to what is being said between the lines. This should enable anybody to dance his or her way through the working day.

Anyway – I have already tried to get my colleagues to go salsa dancing with me. So far without success. But I will definitely do it more often again, because practice makes perfect and I am sure that I can only benefit from getting better. And what is better than learning from something that you love to do?

 

 

Minimum viable dates (and what to expect from them)

Everybody loves Spaghetti

This week I had dinner with some colleagues (mixed Gyoza, Sushi and half a piece of Gateau au chocolat at iimori Gyoza-Bar, in case you are wondering). One of those colleagues at the table was Dennis (this is not his real name, obviously). Dennis is very active when it comes to dating and he also loves talking about it – which I enjoy, since I love talking about that topic too. Last year Dennis and me went to the Frankfurt book fair together and I remembered that he had bought a book that was named something like “How to get some in the digital age”. So I asked him very bluntly – after having checked out pictures of his most current tinder matches – what he took away from the book in order to improve his dating routine. “Well” Dennis replied, “…stuff like: When you take a woman out for dinner, go to an Italian restaurant, since the atmosphere is always pretty romantic there, the food is not too complicated from an how-do-I-eat-that point of view and also: everybody loves Spaghetti. Make sure your date gets a good and comfortable seat, hold the doors for her, let her order first and pay the check at the end.” Then he paused and I used the short break to mention very casually that all of this – except maybe for the not very contemporary fact that the guy is supposed to pay the bill – seems to be pretty basic stuff to me. “Yes” he said, “it might seem basic to you but nowadays this cannot be taken for granted.”

The conversation continued for a while but I somehow got mentally stuck at the question: How the hell is dating supposed to work in the year 2018? What can I – as a woman – expect from an evening with a man I have met somewhere in the real or the digital world? And most importantly: What is the minimum viable date (MVD) I should look out for and what behavior is simply out of scope? (By the way, I found this very adapt cartoon when I was googling “minimum viable date.”)

Romance is required

I guess for me personally all those practical things like holding the doors open, paying the check and letting me go first when the waiter asks for the order are really not what constitutes a pleasant date. Although those things are “nice to have” – what would they help if the guy sitting opposite of me was really boring or showed no interest in me? My minimum viable date would also not necessarily have to take place at a restaurant (although I love to eat, as you might have noticed). It could take place in a park, at an airport, at the gym, in a boulder hall, on a plane, during a dancing class, on a playground or at a funfair. I strongly believe that if two people have a connection they find ways to be romantic with each other everywhere. Plus: Spending time in rather unusual situations right from the start might be good in order to find out how open your date is for trying out new things (which is a very important character trait for my personal taste).

Two of those rather practical minimum requirements for a date, in my eyes, would be punctuality and focus. While “punctuality” is pretty straightforward, “focus” for me essentially translates to “Keep your hands off your phone”. Yes, even in the digital age I strongly hold the opinion that real people who are present at this specific moment in time when a date takes place should be more interesting and more attention-grabbing than all the other people digitally sending likes and beeps and tweets to your phone. The worst case and an absolute out-of-scope-action for me would be if a guy “managed” his upcoming dates while sitting next to me on a park bench. In a world where attention has become a currency there is nothing more flattering than complete and utter focus on the person you are spending your time with. And that includes mental focus as well – I expect a guy to listen to me, remember the stuff I told him and apply that knowledge at our next meeting.

Let’s get physical

Could all this be too much to ask? Is all this way too complicated considering that most people are just looking for a fling, a digital quickie that has been transformed to real flesh and blood for one evening and that can be consumed as easily as it has been set up? Well, in my opinion: no. People seem to forget that a date is a physical meeting between two people and that it differs profoundly from what they do when they continuously swipe left or right (whatever the correct side for “I think you are hot” is) on Tinder while binge-watching Netflix with half their attention. It seems to me that everybody has to define his or her own rules for minimum viable dates – even if they contain requirements that have been pretty standard in the pre-digital days. Because how else are we able to determine whether to give a five or a one start rating for a guy or a girl, considering the sheer amount of dates the average online dating user is going on?

While indulging in our delicious desserts Dennis told me that he is using Tinder less and less these days. “Getting to know someone in real life is totally different and gives you way more information about a person” he answered after I asked him why. “You do not waste days or weeks texting someone who might turn out to be a totally different person in real life. Instead you get a pretty good first impression of somebody’s personality and whether you might like that person or not. So it actually is not only a nicer way to meet people, it is also more efficient.” I smiled as I picked up the last piece of my chocolate cake. Romance and efficiency? Those two things usually do not go together. But hell, as long as the real world overrules the digital world I am happy. So let’s get physical!

2017: A retrospective

Every year around christmas there comes a day when I sit at home on my sofa, wrapped up in a blanket with a Marshmallow-hot-chocolate in my hand, and reflect on the past year. What my mind does in those moments is essentially something we do at work every second week: a retrospective. At work we sit together with the team and think about what went good or bad in the past two weeks and what we can try out in order to keep improving. The methodology behind this is called “keep – drop – try” and seems to me very suitable for private use as well.  So how about 2017? What is there to keep, drop or try out next year?

∞ Keep

Karaoke

I have always sensed that karaoke could be loads of fun and now – since I have awesome colleagues who are as keen on chanting awkward pop-songs with questionable lyrics into sticky microphones as I am – I can finally do it on a regular basis. I don’t know what it does to my brain, but it has a therapeuthic effect on me:  I always feel happy afterwards.  Besides Zumba and riding rollercoasters, karaoke is my personal guarantee for an endorphin rush and therefore definitely a keeper for 2018.

If you are planning to sing your heart out you can do in the Melody Karaoke Bar in Frankfurt or at the Hallertor in Nuremberg (beware of the stickiness!).

Taking impulsive decisions

I remember the moment distinctly: There were only a few tickets left and they were  insanely expensive. Upon refreshing the browser they were suddenly sold out – my heart stopped. I refreshed once more and – shock – the tickets were available again and so I hit “Buy” without thinking. After five months of sheer excitement I finally went to the Rolling Stones concert and it was worth every single penny. This concert is something I will still talk about when I am as old as Mick Jagger is now. And the whole incident taught me that there are some experiences you cannot put a price upon.

Reconnecting with old friends

Since my not-so-new-anymore job requires me to travel to Nuremberg regularly I got the chance to reconnect with an old friend from elementary school. We were very close as kids and fortunately have managed to reestablish this closeness as adults. I remember a particularly nice evening with her at the open-air cinema. It was 10pm, thirty degrees and we were watching a very bad chick flic with Scarlet Johnson seated in beach loungers that got very uncomfortable after a while and one specific joke got us laughing so hard, that tears were streaming down our faces. I definitely want to have a night like this again in 2018.

↓ Drop

Over-economizing

I tend to spend my money very carefully. Which is good on the one hand, but it sometimes gets in my way as far as memorable or even life-changing experiences are concerned (see “Taking impulsive decisions”). Why not book that flight to Singapore? Who knows what might happen in the future and whether I am still able to do all that I want to do when I am older. So maybe I should cut myself some slack and drop the over-economizing on everything. Because surely a mind full of happy memories is worth more than a full bank account. (And yes, this is coming from somebody who works at a bank.)

Finish reading books I don’t like

I really do love books and whenever I occasionally grab one that does not speak to me at all (try reading “The best of Adam Sharp” by Graeme Simsion – I expected a romantic love story and got a weird weepy main character that ends up having a threesome with his lover’s husband) or that is simply too sophisticated for me (did anyone actually understand “Unterwerfung”, the scandalous oevre by Michel Houellebecq?) I feel a strange inner need to finish the book no matter what. This has to stop! At a birthday party last week a former German literature student pointed out to me that life simply is too short for bad books. And she was right. What applies to bad relationsships, unenjoyable food or stupid movies is valid for books as well. Next year I will drop this habit and only focus on books that engage my brain in a positive way.

♥ Try

Climbing and advanced hiking

To try out climbing has actually been on my to-do-list for 2017 but I messed it up somehow. So 2018 is definitely gonna be the year when I grab some gear and climb up a so called “Klettersteig”. Since I have always wondered whether I am afraid of heights this should be a good occasion to find out. Also, after discovering my love for hiking in 2016, I am now planning to try out some of the more advanced trails. The book Wanderlust, which I bought at the Frankfurt book fair in October, provides awesome food for thought as far as hiking is concerned. My number one destination for 2017 is the Malerweg in Saxon Switzerland.

More cooking and baking

It’s not that I don’t cook or bake, but I definitely do have a certain respect for rather complicated recipes. I am afraid of messing it all up – but then again, why would that be such a desaster? Most things in life are trial and error and only practice makes us better. So I am gonna try it all: the badass chocolate cake and the pumpkin risotto. The Spanish paella and the Portuguese pasteis de nata. I already started last week by preparing an awesome pumpkin and chestnut tarte that involved kneading dough, caramelizing chestnuts and cutting pumpkin – the latter being a challenge by itself for somebody with no measurable arm strenght. How it turned out? Delicious and worth every minute it took to prepare.

2018: I am ready for you 🙂

The opposite of marriage

A friend of mine recently got married. It must have been a beautiful wedding – on a vineyard, with excellent catering and live music, a postcard sunset and the obligatory Hawaii-honeymoon afterwards. “Every girl’s dream”, as the saying goes, although I would not count myself as one of those girls dreaming about a wedding like this (or dreaming about any wedding at all, for a fact). And then – bang – another friend told me the most disturbing thing about this newly wed lady at lunch: Whenever she goes out at night or takes a business-trip she takes off her wedding ring. Just like that – she removes the proof of her recently legalized commitment to another person on purpose to pretend to be single to the outer world. Why, I was wondering, would anybody behave like this?

At first I have to say: it’s not that I do not understand her at least a little. 

Being in a relationship and being single both come with advantages and disadvantages and I myself sometimes feel the need to try to get a piece of both cakes. 

Flirting is fun. But waking up to your loved one is also fun – more than fun, actually, it is one of the most beautiful feelings anybody can experience. The sad thing is, though, that it wears out over time; the excitement and the sheer happiness of being with your loved one fades away, becoming a given somehow. I applaud every couple who can preserve the excitement of the first months of the relationship over years (please let me know how you do it!) without sometimes playing the what-if-I-was-with-someone-else mindgame. And then there is being single. No strings, no compromises, no why-is-the-oven-still-dirty argument when you get home after a long day at work. Just you and maybe one or two dates per week, charming text messages via whatsapp and sweet daydreams during boring meetings. But I always assumed that people who decide to get married were okay with not having this kind of life anymore. Shouldn’t it be a prerequisite for marriage to be absolutely sure to not need or want all this – the nervous rummaging in your wardrobe not being able to decide what to wear to a date, the blushing whenever he touches you accidentally on purpose, the butterflies in your stomach while you’re wondering “Does he sometimes think about me, too?”.

Taking off your wedding ring is betraying your spouse and all the people flirting with you. 

When you cannot commit to your husband or wife in every single situation which life brings your way you should not have gotten married in the first place, in my opinion. 

It might seem harsh, but being married marks a turning point in life where you cannot have both pieces of cake anymore – at least not in the classical sense of marriage. If I was my friend’s husband and somebody told me about my wife taking off her wedding ring, the very symbol of us belonging together, I would question this relationship profoundly. Because what does taking off the ring mean? It means: I need the amorous attention of other people. It means: my spouse’s affection is not enough for me. It means: I want to keep all my options open. And that is the exact opposite of what marriage means to me. So what is the solution here? I guess it’s: try to eat as much different cakes as you need to taste until you find the one that you like best. The one cake that doesn’t make you sick after three pieces but instead gives you a pleasant sugar-rush every spoonful. And then committ to your decision – everytime and everywhere. Everything else seems to be the wrong recipe.