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ariadne

vasilisa
Sometimes there are those seconds - standing on top of the stairs, packing knives away, crossing the street - when it suddenly hits me how thin the wall between being and not being is.

Nothing happened to me, don't worry. It's just ... Realizations. Things you know but don't feel and then do. The child of someone you know is born prematurely and there is this moment of intense sorrow for a life that has not even half the weight of a full-term infant (and knowing that this happens often does not change much; the kid is very much fine and home with the parents already). And the teenage step-son of a colleague is in the intensive care unit after a car accident; he was just walking, one of the drivers involved had a medical accident (seizure? stroke?). I don't know more, but there is suddenly this thought: How many streets do I have to cross on the way home?

I know the numbers; I am not angsty and paralyzed. But sometimes it feels like the wall is paper-thin, like I can touch it and feel the pressure from the other side. (I have to thank Christa Wolf for that image; in Medea, the wall is between now and the past. Which is not much different from now and then.)

I write stories in my head. Complex timelines that could end well although the more logical, more impactful ending would not be a happy one. The advantage of not writing them down is that I don't have to decide; I can indulge myself in happy endings.

(If I am really, really honest, than I have to admit to myself that the only way "The time of angels / Shad" could end - the one story that I write and re-write since I was a kid, the endless plains of a universe that subsume all my experience, all my happiness and my sorrows and my hopes and my changing worldviews - is a thoroughly depressing one. It is not about the ending. Of course not. It is about all the adventures on the way there. All the happiness in the middle of war. But is it?)

I go and hide myself in fanfiction (Loki, Loki, Loki; although I will not say to anything that has an amazing Pepper, I do have a soft spot for read-headed CEOs) and carefully try to pick the ones that end well. (And squint towards what leaks about the next Captain America movie and want to run, even though it may be a good movie. I am not sure. I want comfort. I want a place to hide.)

I'm developing an almost-trigger. And intense feeling of "I did not want to even read this line" when it comes to missing limbs and irreparably broken bodies. There was one of the Goodreads books of the month on my timeline, the one that spoke of amputated hands, and I can't get it out of my head. Maybe I should read it, but I don't want to fall for just another marketing trick. (I can't get a few gruesome stories out of my head - I don't mean horror; I mean .... quite some of Sorokin's short stories. I am pretty sure they are more extreme, but leave me with less of a gut-wrenching feeling. And I am glad to have read them; I bought a few more of Sorokin's books afterwards. Or think back to the "1001 nights" stories, the originals and all the missing body parts there. Old law and such. Although thinking back to it scares me now. Did I really read this when I was ten, eleven? And no, I was not really supposed to, but this never stopped me.)

This all is interconnected. I can follow the red thread: Fear of death? Lack of security? Fear of failure? Fear of hopelessness? Although hopelessness is the wrong word; I mean the German "Ausweglosigkeit", the "no way out feeling" which is not the same as "Hoffnungslosigkeit" the "no hope feeling", but English seems to lack the exact term for what I want to say. The realization that there is no karma, no compassion except for what we create. And we can't create that much.
I'm not sure these words/ideas fit, but there is a thread. (It neither leads to the minotaur nor out of the labyrinth. It just connects.)

It's not a dominating feeling, by far not. But it is here. I let the yarn run through my fingers, disentangling the knots before I may store it (a part of it?) away.

I want to tell the story again

dreaming
There is a certain criticism voiced against authors that I do intellectually understand but do not feel: "She/he wrote the same story. Again." It is often, perhaps, a certain laziness, the wish to follow the market - there is nothing morally wrong with it, we all need the money, but I want to believe that there is then more wrong with these books than just "the same story again". These are not the books I usually want to read (if I am not exactly working my way through Michael Moorcock's backlog, all the books that financed New Worlds).

I think there are other reasons to return to the same story, an inner urge, a compulsion to tell it. Jeanette Winterson may have summed it up better than I could:

What can I tell you about the choices we make?
I chose this story above others because it's a story I'm struggling to end. Here we are, with all the pieces in place and the final moment is waiting. I reach this moment, not once, many times, have been reaching it all my life, it seems, and I find there is no resolution.

I want to tell the story again.

That's why I write fiction -- so that I can keep telling the story. I return to problem I can't solve, not because I'm an idiot, but because the real problems can't be solved. The universe is expanding. The more we see, the more we discover there is to see.
Always a new beginning, a different end.

-- Jeanette Winterson, "Weight" (Canongate Myths series) --
fsm
Things you don't want to happen to you on a Saturday night at 10 PM after you spent the whole day sitting in various Starbucks proofreading and correcting a paper you are second author on -- OK, actually things you don't want to happen to you ever: a giant icicle falling from the roof and through your kitchen window:



... and the damageCollapse )


Luckily, my landlord was at a Portugese community meeting nearby and could both directly come by and talk to a contractor who was at the same community meeting. Landlord and I tried to mitigate the damage with some plywood and a giant garbage bag. The whole window should get replaced at some point soon. Unfortunately, they have to wait until the snow is gone, because there is no way to use a ladder to get to the outside part of the window right now.

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And yes, it's still below 0 (celsius that is) outside. So this will be interesting ... Also, it make take a while to go asleep. This was quite an adrenaline rush.

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(soul) food

watermelon
As ♥ so nicely put it yesterday: food is my hobby. Now the problem is that I don't get to explore Boston's food scene enough because I don't have someone who would share my passion there (and have the means, Boston is a pricy place for food), but I've been to an Afghan place Saturday night (I want to go back and try ALL their starters; I may do si when ♥ visits), to Dim Sum Sunday morning (trying something that my colleagues identified as thousand-year-old egg afterwards - I am kind of happy nobody told me before, because this way I at least tried, although I am not eager to repeat the experience) and to one of my favorite new American or American French or whatever they call it places (Westbridge) yesterday night. And I expect some really super sandwiches from Flour for lunch today.

(Not that I know much about food. I don't. I just like eating. And cooking.)

And to amuse you and myself, here a random and abridged selection of my foodish idiosyncrasies:

  • I like my steaks medium rare and I prefer sirloin to rib eye.
  • I love, love, love beef Carpaccio. Same for well done steak tartare.
  • I am generally the kind of person who will skip the cake, but not the steak. Although I will also gladly skip the main course for a choice of multiple starters.
  • I prefer white wine to read and I drink too sweet wine (I know, not the high French taste at all, but remember that wine cultures differ and sweet wines are the pride of the place where I've been born).
  • If I had to choose one veggie to eat the rest of my life it would be bell peppers. But not the green ones, I don't like green ones at all except in some Mexican-inspired dishes.
  • Germany does not really have Asian eggplants. I am going to forever mourn this, since I love them. Well, eggplan in general, but especially the thin long variety.
  • I will usually pack myself a box of raw veggies as snack for work. It may include cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers (mini or cut normal ones), snow pears, radishes (radishes!), and carrots.
  • Some people's indulgence is eating Nutella with a spoon. Mine is eating maple cream this way. (Seriously, if you haven't tried it yet, do so - maple syrups, condensed. YUM!)
  • Scallops are amazing.
  • I'm a big fan of offal (is this the right English word?).
  • Despite me talking so much about meat here, I am actually mostly cooking vegetarian myself. I do, however, not trust most restaurants with veggie based food; I often have the feeling they cook their veggies too long, I usually love them firm and crunchy (or the other extreme: caramelized crunchy).
  • That said: there is a place in R. that ♥ and I love (Schweizer Häusl if you ever happen to be in the area) and their mains are good, but what sold us is their starter/side salad that one automatically gets with every meal - greens and seasonal veggies and the most amazing dressing ever. We've been considering going there and just asking for a big pile of salad.
  • Brussel spouts! Roasted, with sugar or honey and nuts. I could live on them.
  • My favorite coffee is proper mocca/turkish coffee. Brewed in the proper cezve, with the thick sludge at the bottom of the tiny cup. In everyday life I will go for instant coffee, that is still better than the Keurig machine we have at work.
  • I need my five portions of fruits/veggies a day or I feel restless. I can make it without for a few days, but not for long. I feel usually really off by the end of a conference or other traveling (and started just packing a few pounds of apples if I am somewhere where I can't really easily buy fruits/veggies).
  • I like the smell of lemon grass, but not the taste (it's incredibly soapy to me). This makes it really hard to buy fruity teas: they smell so good, but I know that I will hate to drink them.
  • The most amazing ice cream is kulfi (pistachio and cardamon variant, that is). So, so, so good.
  • Don't leave any cherries or pomegrenades close to me. They will be gone within minutes. I also have no trouble eating half a 10 pound watermelon. And the other half the next day.
  • I never know the answer to the question "what do you typically cook?". Whatever strikes my fancy. It's such a wild mix from all over the world!
  • Foods I used to dislike include fish, bananas (I like them raw now, but hardly ever in anything), and avocado (love, love, love).
  • I can (and sometimes indeed do) eat a whole meal consisting only of Korean pickles. My favorites are kim chi and spicy radish, but spicy tofu and cucumbers are amazing, too.

salon (by any other name)

happy
I talked about how for me LJ is a like a salon here (if you feel like chiming in with what LJ is for you, I'd love to hear that - the post may be old, but for me it's one of the timeless ones), but I never had the chance to participate in one myself. mi_er mentioned holding one and I have to admit I was incredibly envious.

And then early last autumn I met this guy at one of the unofficial German scholarship dinners here: Do you know the moment when you meet someone, talk to them and then realize - give this person another 5-10 years and they are going to be one of those people who make a real difference in this world, a difference to the better? Read more...Collapse )

There are three or four more of this coming -- more if J. gets lucky to find some funding and can stay here for two years. But even if there were none: I want to make this happen again. Now I am certainly not the person to pull together a critical mass of truly interested people within a few months after moving to a new city. But say in Munich, where I do already know a number of people ...? I may be able to pull it off if I ever were to move back there and had some people helping finding the right participants. Now I have no idea whether I will ever be able to move to M., but I want to hold this thought, to not forget this idea. Or I wish there was a way to get to know the right people wherever I move to. It was such dumb luck that I met J., given how this was one of the only two scholarship dinners I made it to and one of the last ones which was a mix of different scholarships and both alumni (like me) and current scholarship holders (kike J.). They may have something alike two houses over and I would not know ...

Schild's Ladder

space
The one citation I needed to be in my thesis, was one from Greg Egan's "Schild Ladder":

‘When I was ten years old, all I gave my sweet-heart was a pair of projections that turned the group of rotations in four dimensions into principal bundles over the three-sphere. Ancient constructions, though I did rediscover them for myself.’
‘How were they received?’
‘She liked them so much, she extended them to larger spaces and gave me back the result. [...] So what about you?’
‘I’ve generally had more success with flowers.’

It is a part of a glorious scene, one of my favorites. A hilarious not!sex moment handled with wonderful grace. (Not an isolated case with Egan's writing. There are two more scenes in "Permutation City", one of them from a female point of view, that shine among everything that I've ever read.)


I will openly admit that "Schild's Ladder" is not for everyone, that to enjoy it fully you may need a degree in physics or maths (although I would love to hear that it isn't so; it's always hard to extrapolate to someone else's experience when the starting points are so different . Here is the first page:

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This will confuse most people - and yes, I *need* the figure to be able to follow. But this is also not technobabble. This is an extrapolation, but one based on actual work of, among others, Lee Smolin, - all nicely referenced at the end of the book.

Egan has much more accessible books - and both his "Permutation City" and "Diaspora" are heartfelt recommendations. But "Schild's Ladder" is the one close to my heart. I re-read it over the last week and here it was, as good as I remembered. Perhaps even better. I did flail about the book here on LJ years ago and going back and re-reading it helped me to remember that I used to love Yann so much even then.

And I suppose I will never ever understand why so many reviews say Egan's characters to be unbelievable. I don't read much hard sf - I'm a physicist (I would even say not a bad physicist) and getting the hard science wrong will easily put me off the book. It is much easier to forgive Zelazny or LeGuin (although there is nothing to forgive in "Dispossessed"; the physics there is perfectly coherent in itself and it tells of LeGuins mastery how she managed that without being a physicist herself, without explaining much, just conveying that sense of something that works; and her and thus Shaver's process of discovery in science is among the most believable I ever read - I am still appalled at Delaney's critique of this particular point, of wanting to push the writing into the trope-y description of the working of scientists, but that's a different story). But even more importantly, I am a character-driven reader. I need to believe in people and their motivation, to care for them, to enjoy (with exceptions, of course - this is not what I expect of Borges' short stories).

Egan's characters work for me. Perhaps they are off for others because they are not deeply wounded tragic heroes. Perhaps they are too tame - there are no sexual and emotional escapade's of Charles Stross's "Accelerando". I like this. Hell, I love this: Tchicaya trying to sort through his feelings (and old wounds) for Mariama, Yann, Rasmah. Yann's pranks. Discussion of consent. And laughter; so much laughter and jokes (this is very close to the mode of communication I prefer with people I will comfortable with, so yes, I may be slightly biased).

And there are a ton of little tricks. Yann in Cass' story reads different from Yann in Tchicaya's. Not inconsistent, but Cass and Tchicaya are two very different people and Tchicaya is a traveler. How Schild's ladder is a metaphor for Tchicaya (and Mariama), but also how Tchicaya, when first explained the concept by his father, acknowledges it as a metaphor himself, [b]ut it was a methaphor filled with hope, moving this all one level deeper (higher?) into the meta.
[And yes, I know that this all does not make Greg Egan a Christa Wolf or a J.M. Coetzee, but I don't pick up his books expecting him to be. The same way I would not pick Pelevin and expect fantasy - some people do and are deeply disappointed.]

Anyway, a few more citations that stayed with me:



And as a side remark: my edition of the book, the one by Gollanz, comes with an amazingly beautiful minimalist cover.

this may be a neat one ...

books
Especially since I know that a few people in my list were searching lately:


the 'what's on your bookshelf?' friending meme

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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

athena
I usually don't take photos when in a museum. I mean, where is the sense in it? To say: "I have seen it?" But the last time I've been to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (together with Boston-D. and her roommates this summer), I ended up going back and making pictures of the exhibits that stunned me most to talk about them here. I never came around to do so, but I stumbled over the photos a few weeks ago and they still inspire me.

One of the things I deeply love when it comes to literature is how it will often undermine our perception of what is modern. There was the scholarship exam after high school (the part of it that I rocked), where they asked me to show whether and how Goethe's Faust fulfills the definition of Bertolt Brecht's epic theatre. It does (I could still explain with a bit of flailing) and it was one of the most amazing questions I asked. There was the seminar on Milton's Paradise Lost during my PhD where the docent (who has now a chair for British literature and culture studies, I SO happy to hear that, I loved that semianr) was giving a seminar on Joyce just before ours and thus would end up realizing and telling us how much of modern techniques often ascribed to Joyce Milton would use (don't ask me for the details here). There is Pushkin's Eugen Onegin that is meta-fiction like whoah. There is my favorite among the ancient Greeks, Aristophanes, whose play which often prominently feature his contemporary colleagues, could rival anything contemporary. Only in funnier.

Why am I talking about books when I wanted to talk about an art museum? Besides the fact that I *do* think books to be first and foremost art. Well, because of this plate (and remember, those are shitty photos taken with a simple camera without flash, they do not do the pieces much justice - as said, I would usually not take photos in museums!):

from a few years B.C. to 1898Collapse )

And this, because this needed to be said and is a nice return to my second paragraph, in a way:

thursday three

wentelteefje
I.
Somebody really upset me yesterday (I know, there is the perhaps best xkcd ever, and I don't pick favorites with xkcd lightly!), so I did the grown up thing (seriously!) and instead of getting involved in pointless online discussion directed my simmering brain (because I can't stop the simmering) towards something more productive: I first made a Moroccan eggplant salad that I ate yesterday for dinner and will eat for dinner today (yes, very late dinner today, but I had a big lunch in a nice restaurant with colleagues). And then I cooked the wonderful Moroccan bean&lentil stew that branna recommended (this time actually with ras al hanout! but I also substituted kidney beans for chickpeas because I did not like the texture of the chickpeas last time that much). I now have five frozen lunches for stressful days to come. It was a coincidence that both dishes are Moroccan ;) And if I think about it, both are not only vegetarian, but even vegan. Huh. Well, the stew would have been vegan, if I had used vegetable broth, but I had the chicken one around.

II.
We had another 20 inches of snow. With more to come on Sunday/Monday. Hopefully not Saturday, I have plans for Saturday that require me not only to leave the house, but to take the train. We may have already hit the point where shoveling is a problem because we simply don't know where to put the snow.

III.
The annoying thing about living internationally (on a very tight budget, I am sure it's different for some CEO or even just a consultant) is that you always want and sometimes even simply need something that does not exist in the country you are currently in. I do bring the one or other kind of sweets back from Germany, although luckily Toffifee aka Toffifay also exist in the USA. But the bigger problem is medicine: my favorite remedy for locked shoulders (that is not pilates) is the ibuprofen gel that one can buy only in the UK (and perhaps Ireland). My weapon of choice against cracked lip corners is a over-the-counter medicine in Germany that costs the incredibly high amount 2 € per tube that is most likely going to last the whole winter if not more. It does not exist in the USA. Same for my favorite cream to stop my poor nose from bleeding after a cold in winter. I do still have quite a bit of the ibuprofen gel, some of the lip corner cream, but none, none of the stuff that usually helps my nose. Well, usually is too much. I only needed it twice in my life, so I did not think to bring it. Alas, Dexpanthenol creams don't exist in the USA ...
Also, my facial wash - not the bodyshop one, the other - seems to be an European only product. But my mineral powder seem to have been discontinued in the right color in Germany; it still exists in the USA.

There are, of course, muss less fun cases. You can - and perhaps should - laugh about my predicament. But try changing countries if you have a chronic disease - even if it does not influence your life that much at a given moment - that does require constant medication. Especially medication that needs to be fine-tuned to your special case, see depression. See multiple sclerosis. (Neither is the case for me personally. But both are case to amazing people close to my heart.)

from Rose Ausländer to Roger Zelazny

book vault
For my own reference but perhaps also interesting for a general discussion - authors I currently want to read a lot more more by [very loosely compiled; not including authors I need to - consciously - read something by (say Ballard, whom I certainly read as a kid but can't remember much, or Juli Zeh, whom I have not come around to pick something by yet) at all or authors by whom I only read one book so far and so am not sure about the consistency of their writing (say Chabon whose writing goes too close to where it really hurts to read in winters or Grjasnowa who has not published that much yet)]:



*** Well, I would love to read more by Borchert, but I read everything he has written in his unfortunately very short life D: I am also close to being out of Fontane books. And of good Eco books.

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material girl vol. II

batman or superman
So this is the last of New Year's posts, I think - you may also give this one the title of "I bought too many clothes in 2014". But I don't feel bad about it: I'm very happy with 95% of my purchases, I stuck with the 2 out one 1 rule for the most part (mainly because I did purge a lot before actually moving continents), and I live now in a climate that is both much hotter in summer and much colder in winter. And there is of course a certain different aesthetics here - and I admit I am not immune to what everybody else wears.

extremely(!!!) picture heavyCollapse )


It's strange how most of the clothes look - to me! - like they belong to the same person and not to a style chameleon like I am. But then again, I suppose I was having a certain aesthetics in mind when shopping and I did very purposefully go for more basics even though I may have wanted another flower-patterned skirt or striped shirt; but I have enough of those. Also it looks like I'm into shoes. Well, a tiny bit perhaps. But not as much as this post makes you perhaps believe.

This year will be a lot less shopping. I know, everybody says so, but I have the last year to show for me actually being able to go for less. That is, if I do not end up moving into one more somewhere with a different climate and style, but that is rather unlikely.

I would also love to commit to never ever again buying skirts or dresses without pockets (even the ponte pants I bought have real pockets, even though only back pockets!), but given the choices I have, the chances to follow through with it are rather low. But I am definitely on lookout for more dresses & skirts with pockets.

books '14

reading
Well ... This was not a good reading year. Not that there haven't been amazing books - Wolf and Dick and Aristophanes and Nizami and Carey and Dürrentmatt and unexpectedly good Roche (who then proceeded to deeply disappoint in her next novel), it's just that the overall feeling is rather meh and I am missing the spark. I made my goal of 64 books, but only due to the last minute discovery and subsequent binge-reading of Mike Carey's "Unwritten". And because I counted a few of the novellas from Dozois's collections as whole books. But they were too awesome (esp. Brit Mandelo's "Finite Canvas", which you can also find on tor.com) not to and they were listed on goodreads individually.

This is all I am going to say. Trying to make statistics kind of makes me depressed because I simply don't feel really goood about it. Let's try again this year, with more fun.

As always: reading recommendations (which is not always the same as the books with the best marks) in color. Pointscale goes from 0 to 5. "D" means "read in German" (for Deutsch), "E" "read in English", "R" "read in Russian".

64 booksCollapse )

I abandoned one book only - a non-fiction thingie on astro that was just not my cup of tea (which is sad because I knew two of the authors and wanted to like it; perhaps I was just not the right audience, since it was one of those "50 most interesting things about X" books).

Lists from previous years are here: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.

couch days

winter coziness
Tomorrow I am flying back to the USA and intend to spend the time in flight to come up with submittable version of a certain proposal. Oh the joys of intercontinental travels while on tight deadline.

The last week was spent mainly on ♥'s new giant couch (like seriously this thing could sit ten people and sleep 4 at least, the middle part can be extended! also the photos are from where he just got the couch, so without all the cushions and without a ton of our stuff that accumulated around it during my stay):

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sometimes with visits from the neighbor's cat, who enjoys the couch a lot:

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Unfortunately I also got to find out that the couch is really comfortable for sleeping since poor ♥ got a bad cold that I really want to avoid, given the deadline and the intercontinental flight with a stopover.

The main thing for sitting on the couch was the weather, which looked through the windown like this:

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and then like this:

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and finally like this:

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or like this (if one dared outside, which was actually super nice):

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Otherwise we ate good stuff, like yummy salads

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and Weißwurst (one sausage pictures, but it were 2.5 per person) - photographed with the wrong, i.e., hot, mustard; I used to hate the sweet mustard one supposed to eat them with, but I ended up loving it this time and not eating up my hot one:

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and a Bulgogi-like dish made with a recipe from prokaryont:

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and our old favorite Maroccan chicked salad with addition of beets to the salad (that we bought by chance and ♥ ended up loving - I love beets anyway ...):

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and yummy mackerel with potatoes (that the cat tried to steal from the trash today morning - to then get all offended that I screamed at him and took it away; we don't feed the cat, we only pet it):

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And now it's half past one and I have to get up at 7 to breakfast and pack my backpack, so I suppose - see you on the other side of the Atlantic, once again!

suggestions for 2015 (from me to myself)

cheeky
So much shifted during the last 14 months - moving countries does that yo you - that I don't feel like reflecting on my 30 before 30 list. It looks good, better than the actual list shows, because I also don't feel like going back and striking through the individual bullet points, but a lot of priorities shifted. I still wish for a better social circle in B. - especially now, that Boston-D. has left and we will not have amazing inspiring chats crammed between science and traveling -, but perhaps I also don't need it that much, given how many other amazing people I know (we just came back from M. where I caught up with a friend of mine back from school - who is now moving to Amsterdam! - and his SO; N. and I have semi-regular skype-dates that we spend chatting and playing set; I finally managed to spend a weekend with K. in the middle between Boston and DC; ...). Etc. [eta:] Or as sarahblack put it "I ended up fulfilling the spirit of the resolution" (if perhaps not the literal wording).

I realized that while quantifiable works with books for me, the one kind of resolutions that worked best ever, were the notes from the road to the future for 2013: suggestions rather than goals, orientation rather than pressure, flexible and adaptable. And another entry from the wonderful 2013 that I keep coming back to are the pieces of advice - I suppose in the end it's advice from me to myself. In that sense - some suggestions from me to myself for 2015:

  • publish / write papers
  • apply & reach out high(er)
  • collaborate effectively / lead / pick projects / say no
  • write stories
  • get good e-mail habits
  • be more pushy/assertive when it comes to work and collaborators
  • weight/body feeling/pilates habit
  • proposals and not in the last moment
  • stay in touch with friends
  • keep paperwork in order
  • investment / personal finance literacy
  • stress less over packing for traveling
  • explore and travel (with ♥ and with friends and alone)
  • consciously take time to breath/relax
  • reduce / de-clutter
  • enjoy reading
  • procrastinate less online
  • quick morning routine / getting to work earlier
  • get done more during less time at work
  • wear clothes that make you feel good and powerful
  • keep order; put things back in place
  • don't let things until last moment / don't get overloaded / better time management
  • enjoy food; eat at great restaurants and cook good things yourself

Some of these things are goals. Some are necessities. Some are ways to stay mentally healthy. I have some clear quantifiable ideas for some of them. Others are fluffy undefined thought-things, never meant to become more solid but to stay in the back of my mind. I feel tempted to say that I will reflect on them from time to time - but I will not promise it. I may, I may not. Being that vague worked one, I want to try it a second time. (But writing things down matters. Things written are things though of are things to be re-read again are things to stay in my mind.) They may change, but I rather think only by addition, not by subtraction. But yeah, anyway. Here they are. Let's see where they'll lead me in 2015.

SAGA // Unwritten

agent of asgard
So I love SAGA so much that I did buy the Deluxe edition (collecting issues 1-18) in spite of having bought the collected editions previously. This leaves me with Vol. 1 of the collected graphic novel (collecting issues 1-6) that I don't need and would like to pass on into good hands - Vol. 2 and 3. are already claimed by a dear friend. Who wants it? It has to be either someone in the EU or in the USA for reasons for reasonable postage. I don't ask for anything in return, except that if you decide to not keep the book, to not just throw it away, but to either give it to a friend or to leave it somewhere someone can pick it up, whether a free wee library, an open bookshelf, or whatever else.

Comment to this entry with a "I want it" or something along the lines and you'll have the book. (Please keep the request comments separate from other comments including - I will unscreen the general comments, not so the book requests).
-- ... and gone. No comments screened from now on.

****

Also, I have a new comics addiction and a definitive addition to my list of comic recommendations. I should have known I would love Unwritten, given the topic and the fact that it's written by Mike Carey, whose Lucifer is pure genius. What I did not realize is that he again works with Peter Gross here, the same artist who drew Lucifer. And there is the fact that the 'Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication' data (which you can find just after the ISBN) lists 'Fame--psychological aspects' and 'Identity (Philosophical concept)' as keywords. Anyway, here are two more citations that I need to share:

Actually ... The future is the audience who reads and watches those things, isn't it? A million people, all dreaming the same dreams. Dreams that will still be there when they wake up. That's what I want to do, I think. Reach into people's minds and paint dreams there.

-- Mike Carey, 'Unwritten Vol. 5: On to Genesis' --

The stories about us are stronger than we are. And more durable. When you think about yourself - about your real, true self - it's not the face in the mirror that comes into your mind. It's the story of you.

-- Mike Carey, 'Unwritten Vol. 7: The Wound' --

(Which reminds me of that line of Mike Moorcock's 'the past is a script we are constantly rewriting' that has been part of this blog for years now and that I very much believe to be true.)
over the city
that's the difference. -- what? -- when I smack you, that's for-real-true. when lady jingly jones cries, it's story-true. for-real-true is only true now. story-true is true forever.
-- Mike Carey, "The Unwritten, Vol 4: Leviathan" --


Sorry for disappearing. As surprising as it sounds, I was mainly just not online. I'll catch up, but I don't think I will go back and comment for the most part.

***

I changed continents. There is something to the (non-)sleep on planes that leaves my brain a clean slate for the next days. Less of a clean slate even, more one of those non-stick surfaces, that water rolls off from in little droplets.

***

If you had the change to look up into the nightsky from Betelgeuze (some 650 lightyears away), you will not recognize the sky. Mars however ... it's the same constellation you would see from Mars as from Earth. I knew that, but it's one of those thoughts that are somehow shocking once they are thought.

***

We've been to Dresden for 3 days (I am not sure we would have went if we had not booked months ago). We've been to the Semper opera for a wonderful guided tour in the afternoon and spent the late night in the Military History Museum, since it's the only one that is on Mondays after six. We walked the inner city between 5 and 6 and then again after between 9 and 10. The only indication of the demos was a guy waving a German flag; the rest we got from newspapers. It's scary how easy it is to miss, even when you are there, in the epicenter of it.

***

That museum itself. There are a lot of thoughts (a lot of them on language: did you know where the peace-sign came from? The name of the B52 cocktail?), but at the very end there were photos. Iraq-photos. I could not look. I could not. This is reality, this is not fiction. This is not after, not after things got patched up. This is reality, in the middle of it.

***

B. - the German B. - still feels like home. There is so much to tell and yet so little: it still feels like home. But there is no coming back (not if I want to have a future - and not if I don't want to destroy the illusion that there is a place I could call home, because in reality it has, of course, changed).

***

And else: parents. A new fir-green skirt. Too much food at Christmas markets and not enough salads. Trying to find a tolerable radio channel while driving at night on the 23rd December - and yes, tolerable means not-Christmas-songs. My hair is now again only shoulder-long, almost half of it gone. My application still not even properly started. Wearing the skin of heroes, slipping from one world to the next, from one variant of the same world to the one of the next story. I have a lot of jumbled thoughts; perhaps for the next time.

somerville cooking I

cheeky
So I've not been cooking much in the last half a year. More than that, actually, since I'm in my current place since end of April, but given how much I've been traveling, it's actually less than 6 months time that I spend home.

So here are the different things I made. What it does not tell you, is how often I ate my favorite panzanella salad, corn on the cob, or different version of the bell peppers and goat cheese omelette (often!). Or how often a whole meal has consisted of half a watermelon in the summer. I also realized that I did not make a single photo of roastbeef sandwiches I make pretty often for lunch at work - they are kind of boring, just bread, a tiny bit of butter and roastbeef. But oh, they are yummy!

Anyway, this may also show you why just freezing leftovers is kind of not working well with most of my meals.

P1020140

The easiest salad ever: greens (I prefer some spicy kind), goat cheese, cranberries and good balsamic vinegar.


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There is a pattern to this: feta, goat cheese, fresh veggies and fruit, clear tastes, quickly made, easily scalable to one or two meals, not too many ingredients (but that's part of the scalable point). And there are quite a few dishes that follow this pattern that I haven't made yet here, if I think about it. Those are to come in somerville cooking part II I suppose. At some point next year or so.

Dec. 8th, 2014

winterly
Life goes on. I am trying to do a bit of reflecting one the last year and formulate goals.

What else? I spent two days with friends, looking at the American constitution through European eyes, drinking mulled wine, playing the game of 'what if' and educational systems (does anybody have the numbers of how the level of education someone reaches depends on the level of education of their parents for the USA? I know that the systems are too different to directly compare, but ...) - but it was just a weekend; and to a point their life scares me, I am not sure I have the strength and mental stability for this career. I've scrapped a science case for an application and will be completely re-writing it with a new one - a ton of reading on a topic I haven't worked on much yet is forthcoming; and this whole things need to be done yesterday, of course (but yesterday I had the other science case, the one that does not work because it's too broad and cannot be narrowed done; it will be something for the future, if I have one in the field). I have a migraine, that comes and goes for a week now, the kind of that comes with auras, ugh - yesterday I though I would throw up in the airport; I managed not to, but oh, I do not like the feeling. I lost the last pair of fingerless gloves - good thing I am going to Germany in 10 days, I may just buy another 3 or 4 cheap pairs. Do you know those stories, where you know that you should not read them just from the 'recommendation' for it or the summary and you still go and at least skim over it and it is as bad as expected but you can't delete it from your memory, can't bleach the part of your brain that makes it pop up again and again for at least a few days? Yeah ... And (this is an unrelated "and", although alike in tone) those kids in France (21 and 19!) - this should not happen; we fled a country to a place where things like this do not happen, and here they are, back just around the corner, back where I do actually consider applying (where I may have been now because I did have a job offer from there).

Let's concentrate on nicer things, OK? Today morning, packing my backpack for work, I simply got a frozen potato soup out of the freezer. This is new to me - freezing food is one of those things I somehow never learned. But I decided I like it. So: recipes that freeze well? I know I could search online, but I want something you tried and could recommend from your own experience. I prefer something where I don't need to add 'fresh' ingredients, even if it's just rice and noodles (I want to have lunches to take to work without any work in the evenings, for those days when I come home at midnight or later). They don't have to be vegetarian, but recipes with a lot of veggies are especially welcome. As are beans/legumes in general, I don't eat enough of them. But really: just shoot.
cheeky
"Carpe Jugulum" is, very much unexpectedly, the first Discworld book that got full five stars from me (I am listening to all the books in the series in order as audiobooks - they are my go-to comfort reads or rather listens for winter nights and cross-stitching. I am also not a big friend of humorous books in general; or of comedies of any kind, come to think of it).

So here are two citations that stuck with me:

She'd changed as soon as the others had entered. Before, she'd been bowed and tired. Now she was standing tall and haughty, supported by a scaffolding of pride.

*********

'It's not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of grey.'

'Nope.'

'Pardon?'

'There's no greys, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.'

'It's a lot more complicated than that-'

'No. It ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts.'

'Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes-'

'But they starts with thinking about people as things...'

-- Terry Pratchett, "Carpe Jugulum" --

changes

choices
I.
I watched Interstellar a week ago. My summary for the movie was "No". But that's not what I want to tell about. Walking back we were talking. And at Union Square, where we should have parted our ways, we sat down, at midnight, in the cold, because we needed to finish that conversation. Life and future and being expats and the way people behave online.

But what this conversation made me realize is that I miss being part of the change. Which for me, equals, to the fact that I miss volunteering, public outreach, social work. The part that I call "Service and Public Outreach" on my CV.

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II.
The last year, perhaps even the last years in B., I used to try at least one new recipe a week, sometimes more. And while I tried to re-create the one or other dish I tried in restaurant here (the wonderful beet salad), I am back to staples. I spend the summer between panzanella salad, roastbeef sandwiches, corn, and avocado sandwiches. My winters are mixed salads, potatoes, zucchini curry, and beet salad. I thought it may a sign of slight depression, a not feeling home in a kitchen that I have to share. And while both may be true, I think that it's actually much less dire.

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III.
Reading this year is slow and I am not even sure I am going to make my goal, for the first time since I started to set myself reading goals in 2008. If I make this goal, it will be because I will read a ton of comics when house-sitting in two weeks. And it will still be the lowest number of books overall, because I used not to count comics in the very beginning of my goal-setting.

Read more...Collapse )

Anyway: changes. Here are some of the mine. I am officially in my thirties as of five days, I suppose that one is a fitting entry to start of.

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