Thursday, October 1, 2015

Life in the now

It's October 1st and i woke up with a strange urge to start fresh, start over.
To somehow make this month different than the last one.
I normally don't even notice what today's date is unless it's someone's birthday, but today feels different.
I'm not sure how or why, but i think it started yesterday.
It was probably just a result of drinking way too much coffee, and riding my bike too fast in the cold but sunny autumn weather, but for most of the day i was feeling so alive i was worried my enthusiasm might cause me to break something.
Is that happiness? I think it is.
Happiness for me is usually very brief and not caused by anything in particular.
Just a feeling of being alive and present in the moment.
Or feeling like i belong, like i felt like i belong in Berlin yesterday.

It didn't last all day.
Feelings fueled partially by caffeine rarely do, so during dinner at a pasta place not too far from here i kind of crashed, and my night was a quiet one, spent watching The Blacklist in slow motion on my shitty, old laptop, and taking pictures of the hamster.
Nothing special, but i still felt good.
Just a bit more alive than usual.

Today i slept in, as i have ever since coming back from London, and i stayed in bed for at least an hour after that, checking instagram and chatting with Wendy on Whatsapp.
But now, again, after nothing particularly great or interesting has even happened, the feeling is back.
That feeling of wanting to do something drastic, something radical, something that makes this not just another Thursday.
Something that can express this feeling of being in the moment, and belonging there.
Maybe i should cut my hair, get tattooed, or start a painting?
Perhaps it's time to burn all of my old journals.
I'll probably do none of those things, but i will write, and i will plan!
And hopefully later today someone i like will kiss me, and even later in the evening i will be with my friends, and i will laugh and drink.
And as usual, i will take pictures, to try and capture the moment, so when i need it, when i'm having a bad day, i can go back and live in it.

These photos are from back in July, when i finally got to visit one of those abandoned places that's been on my to-visit list for ages.
It's an old brewery, not as old or eerie as the abandoned hospital, which i apparently forgot to post newer pictures from, but fun and photogenic, no less.

I went with Jessica, who besides being my roommate is also my partner in urban exploration and analog photography, and two other awesome Canadian chicks who were visiting Berlin at the time.
We had a great afternoon of climbing fences, taking pictures, telling scary stories and drinking lukewarm späti wine on top of a tower with a view over the then scorching hot city.
I felt alive and real on that day too.
And i'm happy i always remember to document those moments.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stories from the past, adventures in the present

I don't know the exact moment my severe anxiety disorder disappeared, but i think it may have been the morning of January 15th last year.
I'd gotten up early in the morning for an appointment at a hospital i'd never been to before, and i was going there alone.
It was only a few weeks after my marriage had fallen apart, and only three or four days since i'd reluctantly agreed to a separation, and i was still a complete mess.
Was it in Steglitz, maybe, the hospital?
My memory is the worst sometimes, but i do remember that i had to be there early in the morning, something that in itself used to be panic inducing for me.
Morning appointments, morning flights, all a complete nightmare for someone like me.
But i went.
And i waited, as one does in hospitals.

A few days before i'd been to another appointment alone, but a minor one.
An ultrasound, to try to determine if any of my many sometimes painful tumors could be cancer.
It's funny how they always tell you to do self exams, but there's very little information out there on what to do if you have a bunch of tumors, but don't know if they're benign or not.
Get checked.
But not too often because of the radiation.
"Let us know if that thing under your skin gets any bigger. Cause that's bad. Ok good luck, see you in two years!"
To another check-up i went.
On the day of the 15th i was getting a biopsy done, of one of the more sketchy looking tumors.
They all look sketchy to me, to be honest.
It's so random which ones get checked, and which ones just get left there to kinda do their thing.
Their thing being hopefully nothing at all.

Like i said, i waited.
I was probably reading a book, but i can't remember which.
I finally got in with the doctor and a couple of nurses.
She was nice enough, the doctor, and the room was dark still, because it was morning.
I wasn't nervous, and i found that odd.
Normally my heart would be pounding, and my face would start to get warm.
My stomach would turn and a wave of anxiety would roll over me.
I'd wonder if i was sick, maybe a fever or food poisoning?
I would need to run to the bathroom, maybe run cold water over my wrists or take a panic dump.
Then i'd probably realize that i was having a panic attack, and i would try to breathe, stay calm, and most importantly, make sure no one noticed.
Years of covering up my condition had made me a master, so they wouldn't have.
Very few people ever suspected.
But none of that happened.
I just sat there.

I'd had biopsies done before, the procedure didn't scare me, but i was still a little shocked when massive amounts of blood started gashing out from the tiny hole in my right breast and onto my light blue jeans.
It just kept coming, the fabric turned a dark brownish red.
My jeans still have a faint spot, barely visible now, and only i know that it's blood.
I had the wound for months, it was tiny but refused to heal, and it was located right next to a surgical scar that only a few people even knew existed.

They wrapped me up in gauze and tape.
Wrapped it around my body like they were trying to pass me off as a boy, flattening my chest completely.
Then i left.
In the lobby i ate part of a banana because i felt light headed, but because i'm such a germophobe, i didn't feel comfortable eating in a hospital.
I ate about half, then took a taxi home.
Or, not home.
The house that wasn't a home anymore.
But i had nowhere else to go, and as you know, it would take me over a year to get out of there.

So why am i even telling you this?
I haven't even blogged about anxiety in a really long time, but yesterday someone asked me if i'd experienced any during my weekend in London, and i said "oh, i don't have that anymore".
And i realized that i don't, actually.
But even though i don't suffer from it on a daily basis, saying that i don't have it is only partially true.

Having an anxiety disorder isn't exactly something you can ever be cured from, is it?
I don't think so, not completely.
But you can stop suffering from it.
You can stop having panic attacks.
And mine went away when i lost everything.
I had to learn how to be my own safety person.
And in a way i was lucky.
Not lucky when it came to the circumstances of the breakup, or the pain it caused, but the outcome.
I was already working on getting over my anxiety way before the breakup, but it was hard work.
Reading numerous self help books, maintaining a specific diet, meditating daily, and even with all that effort, a panic attack could happen whenever and wherever.
All that work and what finally did the trick was a shock to the system.
An emotional earthquake.
An event that would destroy my old life, and also destroyed the old me, and the anxiety with her.
Yeah, i guess that's kind of lucky.

I'm not cured, i'm not immune.
In theory, i could have a panic attack right now.
But i still went to London this weekend to work, and for the first time since i started attending the tattoo convention ten years ago, i was anxiety free the whole time.
And i felt such immense gratitude.
I was grateful for no longer being in a relationship that made me feel so sad and guilty about everything, that it would manifest itself physically and literally make me sick.
I felt grateful for my new life, for my friends, for being able to travel without fear, for meeting new people, for not being secondary, for not hiding.
Being single, being alone, being lost, being confused, it's all worth it, one hundred percent worth it.
Cause i might be lost and alone and confused, but at least i get to be me.
I get to be the main character in the novel that is my life, and i get to live that life without fear.
And i can't begin to describe what a huge change that is from the person i was when i last attended that convention two years ago.
I still have a lot of love and empathy for the person i was back then, but i sure am glad i'm not her anymore.

I did bring the Canon to London, but since we were trapped in a basement most of the weekend, i didn't take that many pictures.
So here are some crappy iPhone ones, of which there weren't many either, actually, but it'll have to do for now!

We arrived Thursday, dropped our bags off at the apartment, then headed to the convention to set up for Friday... walked by the river and saw this view on our way back

Dungeon life! The booth wasn't in the best spot, unless of course you like water leaks from the ceiling or the fact that no one can find you!

I sold out of these prints, so i ordered some more for my etsy as soon as i got back. What a crazy feeling to actually sell prints of my own art work... surreal!

English breakfast kinda rules

There in the background are Wendy and our roommates Lorena and Darby, waiting for me while i try to take a picture of a cat... that's what being my friend is like, in case you're wondering

Selfie action with fellow dungeon dweller Jee

That time i got my hair braided by this awesome lady 

Broken heart, but not heartbroken 

Coffee and the best breakfast ever at TRADE with Wendy and sneaky Stuart

Dinner and colorful drinks at Giraffe with the roommates

Sunday steeze...Grimes meets The Tick? 

Wendy at work on Saturday 

The roof of our building had a very nice view of the city

British beauties

On the way to the convention in the morning

We felt like such idiots for leaving our selfie stick in Berlin, but we made it work anyway

Besides being best friends and flatmates, me and Wendy have also traveled together three times this year, and we still haven't killed each other... i think we should get some kind of friendship trophy for that

I love having friends who not only don't mind waiting around while i take pictures for my instagram, but even assist me when i need it... enablers in the best way!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pumpkin spice shut the hell up

It's Sunday, and i don't have much to write, but i got photos back from the lab on Thursday, and since it's a rainy day today, i felt like posting a few sunny ones. 

I'm still in denial about summer having ended, and every time someone talks about autumn being their faaaavorite season, and how being cozy in your bed with a wide assortment of pumpkin related food items is just the best thing ever, i kinda wanna punch them in the face. 
Seriously, what's so fucking great about freezing?
But that being said, even though it's getting colder and darker, i'm generally pretty happy. 

I recently found an older rant on my phone about how boring this summer was compared to the last one, but all things considered, i'll take a bit of boredom over last years constant drama.
I think...

 From the iPhone journal: 

"What is happening to Berlin? 
It's still summer, right? 
Summers here are supposed to be epic. Last year was epic! 
I remember working a lot, but I also went out every weekend. 
So much drinking, dancing, kissing, fighting, laughing, doing crazy shit with crazy people every damn week. In comparison, this summer is just kind of... sad. 
People leaving. 
Even the drama is more just plain sad than it is passionate. 
I'm starved for fun. 
One more week of this and I'll be back at Yaam, making out with Puerto Rican gangsters. 
 Don't let it come to this, Berlin!" 

Lucky for me i didn't get that bored! 
He was very nice, though, for someone who wore a bandanna and had a tribal tattoo on his hand.
Oh yeah, i'm all about making the good life choices.

Here are a few shots from my neighborhood of Neukölln, one from Haubentaucher, a place in Friedrichshain with a great pool, and a horse in Spandau. 
Because why not.


Monday, August 31, 2015

That girl

Ok, so i didn't post the next day, but almost!
Still playing catch-up, so none of this is particularly current, and all of it is random, but that's ok.
I'll get to more present day events eventually.

From the iPhone journal, written after talking to some of my best friends about some of our shittier past relationships:

"When you meet them you're the fun girl. Crazy. Charismatic. Confident.
That's what they fall for.
But years of their flirting and cheating makes you introverted and insecure.
Turns you into someone else.
They make you feel crazy, they try to make you believe it's all in your head.
"You're just making shit up, you're seeing things that aren't there... nothing is going on".
Then comes the guilt and self-loathing.
They start to resent you for not being the person you used to be, when in fact, they made you what you are.
This new jealous, insecure person didn't just happen, she was made.
"What happened to the fun loving, carefree girl i fell in love with?", they'll ask.
You killed her."

These photos are from sometime in June, i think?
They happened because a photographer i knew from instagram asked if he could take some pictures of me, and i said yes.
Not because i thought i'd be good at it, i knew i wouldn't be, but because i almost always do.
Say yes to things, that is.
Especially the things that used to scare me.

Go check out the photography of Philip C Keith.
Rad work by a rad dude.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Another self

Is it self promotion or self sabotage if i post something that a lot of people are supposed to see, on a Friday afternoon, a day famous for its low internet activity?
Yeah ok, so that's a typical me-move, but i just got home to Berlin after a week in Denmark, and if i don't post something now, i'm afraid i'm gonna take another accidental blog-hiatus!

I do have other stuff lined up, you know.
Drafts, photos, all that stuff.
All the feelings, all the journals.
Personal stuff.
But about a month ago i got to a point where i suddenly became afraid of getting a little too emo.
I just don't wanna look like i'm unhappy or constantly sitting at home wallowing in self pity, you know?
Although that does happen, i won't deny it, i am for the most part a pretty damn positive person, bordering on funny and definitely fun-loving, and i just got a little paranoid that maybe that wasn't coming across here on the blog.
But this is the internet, not real life.
This isn't supposed to be me, not really.
It's a version, and that version is also what i am.
I am full of fears and doubts, and if i didn't have a forum for that side of me, this forum, i'd probably be pretty fucking mentally unhealthy.

So yeah, back to normal, back to oversharing, back to posting without a filter.
More self promotion, less self doubt!
So here goes, that pesky self promotional stuff that i love so much... ha.

So i made some prints of one of my paintings!
Not many, and just one painting to start with, but hopefully once this sells out i'll be able to make some more, and maybe one day have an etsy store that's fully stocked with prints of my art work.
That's the dream anyway!

So if you want to check them out, or maybe even buy one, go to my Classic Flora etsy store!
The vintage clothes is still for sale over in the Berlin Vintage Company store, so maybe go check that out too while you're in etsy land anyway.

Ok, that was it, not too painful, really!
I'll be back tomorrow with a real post, full of real writing and real realness.
For real.

A little larger than A4 but smaller than the original

So pleased with the quality!

The first print already made it to its new home, and seeing this on instagram totally made my day 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Backup dreams

From the iPhone journal, a while back:

"This morning i had a weird realization.
I'm at a place in my life where i've already had everything most of the people around me are working towards.
The marriage, the house, the business.
A car.
Not the babies, obviously, but the possibility of family nonetheless.
Had it, lost it.
That supposed dream life everyone is striving to achieve is already behind me, leaving me with a strange uncertainty... where am i supposed to go from here?
What's my new goal, do i even have dreams of my own?
I wasn't prepared, no one warned me.
No one told me that i needed to have backup dreams.

I think this, me not knowing, or not wanting the same things i did before, sometimes makes it hard for people to relate to me.
Single people don't understand why i'm not actively searching for "true love".
And married people feel uncomfortable around me, because i remind them that everything they have can fall apart at any time.

I don't know what i'm supposed to be, and when people ask, i still don't know what to answer.
I used to have all the answers."

So we got a new hamster!
Yeah, bet you didn't even know there were old hamsters, cause they were Wendy's and i didn't blog about them much.
But anyway, they both died, which was of course very sad.
They both had lovely funerals at the local park, though.
There were flowers and speeches, good stuff.
We waited a few days, but then decided that living in a hamster-free home was just too damn sad, so we got ourselves a new one.
It's a gold hamster, her name is Sriracha, and she's adorable.
And a little bitey, but we're working on that.
I'm gonna post pictures of her soon, but i kinda wanna wait until she's tame enough to hold.
We're working on that too.

Actually, i think that's my new dream.
To become one of those pet-people whose animal gets super instagram famous, and all of a sudden they have a book deal and go on TV and shit.
Yes. The hamster will eventually pay the bills.
That's what i'll tell people from now on.

These pictures might be even older than the journal entry.
They're from my trip to New York in April, to be more specific.
Not the best ones, or i would have put them in this post, but since i'm only halfway through my current film, Brooklyn, Brooklyn, more Brooklyn, and a view of Manhattan from the ferry is what you get!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal...

We took our best friend to the airport this morning.
By we i mean myself and my roommate Wendy, and our best friend would be the other Wendy.
It's ok if you're confused by that. Most people are.

It was early. We got up at 4 am.
We held hands all the way to Tegel, and we cried at the airport. Even after she went to the gate.
I've known since i met her, that her and her husband John would eventually move back to the US, but when i met her, i had no way of knowing that i'd just met one of my closest friends ever.
And i had no idea that i'd never be ready for them to leave.

People say we'll be fine, and we'll get over it.
Sure, whatever.
They've obviously never had a friend like her.

I'm pretty tired from being up early, and being all emotional and shit, so i don't wanna try and write any more than this.
But i felt like posting pictures of the three of us together.
Three weirdos who were somehow lucky enough to find each other in Berlin, and become family.
Three weirdos who will hopefully reunite in sunny California sooner rather than later!

At our housewarming party, before shit got real

At Havanna, my number one guilty-pleasure-club

At the market, cause we're all about the food

At Burgers and hiphop, dancing and drinking like we do best

At the house before going out this weekend, overdressed as fuck

In the old kitchen, probably shortly before the move

At our 2014 Halloween party

At Prince Charles, home of the bathroom selfies

At Cassiopeia, somewhere between me yelling at my ex's best friend for not warning me about his cheating (yeah, i was that girl), and Prindle pulling an Irish Goodbye (which she promised she wouldn't do!)

On Hermannstrasse the next day, walking back from getting ice cream in the rain