I Met Someone

Today marks the day that I went on my 30th “first date” through this crazy and wacky experience called online dating. This last person actually called me after our date (about ten minutes ago) to specifically say that he has no interest in me at all romantically. Thanks, Philip! You’re also a real peach! Good luck calling women evil and not asking your date a single question on the next round!

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Yes, meeting 30 people for any consecutive amount of time is bound to come up with interesting storytelling anecdotes, but other than that… excuse my German… it has been a shit storm. I have hated every minute of it. I have liked a lot of men with no reciprocation, and visa versa… the men who like me I am really (really, really) not into.

I have built a lot of character over the past two years. Quitting a seven year relationship and trying to find yourself again will do that to you, I suppose. But one thing is clear: the more I date, the more patterns of human nature emerge, and it becomes painfully apparent that this whole typical online dating thing SIMPLY ISN’T WORKING. Hell, I even moved continents to see if that would help! Spoiler alert: it might be worse here.

For the past few months I have taken a long, hard look at myself and asked what I really want…and the truth is, unless I find someone that truly complements me, this whole trying-too-hard thing isn’t working. Settling doesn’t seem like a real option for me, even if I am GETTING OLD. Mutual chemistry has to be there. And if it isn’t? Besides the sadness that late night brings from time to time, (like trying to find something and you have forgotten what it looks like)…I am surprisingly comfortable being alone.

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I have HATED the fact that I am a serious relationship person when seemingly everyone else is super flamboyant with their sexuality. I have HATED that I felt I am not “attractive” enough, thin enough or feminine enough to be considered desirable. These residual feelings of inadequacy stem from childhood and they creep up every time a “Philip”, or someone I am actually interested in go out of their way to say mean things. The words filter in my brain and spiral down to my heart and sits until it rots. I have always taken things too seriously, and I hate it.

All of this hatred aside, I realized something terribly important in my near 30 years of existence. I realized how strong I am. How different I am. How loving I am. I love so deeply. I really am not an asshole. I am funny, and smart, and often confused, and creative. I truly am soft. I don’t have the edges of traditional sex appeal, it is true, but I have the curves of a loving, caring, open person. The smile of a neighbor and a sister. The belly of a laughing Buddha after too many doughnuts. The hugs of a grandmother and an aunt. No…believe it or not, I am not a nun, I DO have a libido after all, but I am not a sexpot either. I can be so much more than just one thing, and to find someone to appreciate me as a whole complicated being is not going to be easy. It isn’t going to be a list of boxes that need to be checked. It has to be something that I haven’t come across yet but viscerally I know it exists.

So, yes, on that note, DUDES, I have met someone.

It just happens to be myself. Yes, this is a cheesy self love actualization blog post, suckers!!!!!

But do you realize how important that is to find in a sea of codependency, self hatred and loneliness? I am capable of thriving (not just surviving) by myself and not everyone has had the opportunity to do that. I don’t need another person to make me feel worthy. Would I have asked for this if it wasn’t forced upon me? Probably not. But the longer you live the more opportunities you have to learn valuable albeit HORRIBLY PAINFUL life lessons. I think it is important for radical self acceptance and love, especially when you are bombarded by society and your own habitual brain telling you otherwise. I MEAN LOOK AT ME:

I’m seriously pretty cute and not boring. I am a catch, a chubby neon orange mermaid really, and not just any sailor is meant for my unique siren call.

I’m not going to wait for a phantom anymore. I am going to ride my bike, eat a lot of cake, laugh a lot with friends, teach English to willing participants, cry over spilled milk and not go to sleep past 11 because that is irresponsible. I am going to accept my flaws wholeheartedly, eat less meat because I love animals too much, turn 30 next year, and finish writing my pre teen sci fi novel that I have been sitting on for half a decade. I am going to be fat. I am going to giggle uncontrollably at cute dogs and babies. I am going to be TOO soft and overly sensitive and too nice. I am going to be strong, resilient and not give up on the things that matter most to me. Of course I want a relationship, a lot of people do. But I am cutting the strings that bind me so tightly to a fantasy that has caused me way too much suffering.

So, GIRL, YOU SWEET THANG YOU, I love you. And that is more than enough. More than enough, enough, enoughness.

Sexy grandma hugs to you ;),

Sarah

I Met Someone

An Introvert in Germany

FIRST AND FOREMOST, I would like to tell you what an introvert is. Over the years, people label themselves this as a convenient way of saying they are deep or insightful (just don’t.) Or people use it as a negative tool for calling someone anti-social and nerdy.

Who WOULDN’T WANT TO BE THE LIFE OF THE PARTY, sorry I didn’t mean to scream.

Anyway, here’s the best definition I found from UrbanDictionary.com:

“Opposite of extrovert. A person who is energized by spending time alone. Often found in their homes, libraries, quiet parks that not many people know about, or other secluded places, introverts like to think and be alone.

Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy. Some may have great social lives and love talking to their friends but just need some time to be alone to “recharge” afterwards. The word “Introvert” has negative connotations that need to be destroyed. Introverts are simply misunderstood because the majority of the population consists of extroverts.

Extrovert: Oh my god, you’re so shy! You need to get out more!
Introvert: But it’s so draining – I don’t have a problem with going out; I just want to stay at home and read sometimes, y’know?Jesse is an introvert. He doesn’t mind staying home on a Friday night.”

This was written in the ancient times of 2007 and still rings true today.
I love people. I love talking to them, getting to know their horrible secrets, unfairly diagnosing them from my psychology degree, eating so much brunch, etc. But frankly? Once I’m done hanging out, this happens.
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(fun fact, I sent this picture to my bosses the other day after being 45 minutes late because I got horribly lost!!)
People are lovely, but exhausting. I like ripping off my pants and taking a nap, every single time.
So during my time in Hamburg, I have been 100% exhausted 100% of the time. Not only am I constantly exposed to new people, but walking outside my door I am always getting lost.
I am also repeatedly having to ask people if they speak English. And though most people do, there is a distinct language barrier from sometimes truly connecting and understanding. You say tomato, I say to-mah-to! By the time the weekend comes, I’m sleeping for 10 hours straight and eating my recently found Oreo cookies in bed.

Another Strange Development:

Being an introvert usually means I do not succumb to the normal “trying to fit in” schemes that happen in society. Not because I don’t want to, because I’m just too tired and lazy. How can I be cool when I’m trying to watch Lady Dynamite on Netflix?

I have never been fashion forward, never liked to party, and certainly don’t like to shop. But here’s a fun fact!!!

Hamburg people love wearing stripes. These are pictures from real Hamburg People, wearing real Stripes. (not really, this is a lie)

I don’t know if it’s because of the proximity to the harbot that they want to wear some sort of sailor-jail like stripe fashions, but it is abundantly clear in every shopping center there are multiple choices of striped clothing.
Yesterday, I opened my closet and found these.
Some how THREE striped shirts manifested themselves out of nowhere. As if living in Hamburg long enough metamorphosed a Hamburg looking Sarah. I decided to pair these blouses with my new European old lady sandals and 2 dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep.
I’ll be honest and say I don’t know where this journey will take me. I’m still unsure about the paperwork situation, unsure about my abilities to navigate myself successfully throughout this city, and really unsure of how to maintain balance as an introvert in a job that is very fun but totally exhausting.
Better luck next time!
Sarah
An Introvert in Germany

Some People are Graceful and Others are Not

Growing up, I used to read National Geographic like it was a message from God. These were undiscovered worlds at my fingertips in Technicolor glossy pages. Once in a while, there would be a picture of the photographer or journalist, wearing khaki shorts or some such nonsense, and usually over looking the horizon. These people were adventurers. They were stony eyed and wild haired and had a look of determination that few people really can encapsulate.

(all images from natgeo)

Anyway, my point is, I’m not one of those people.

It took me two weeks to get over the fatigue of flying here. That’s two weeks of sleeping, slogging around, befuddlement, and an overwhelming feeling of not quite sure if I was dreaming or if this was reality. I was glad I remembered wearing pants during this time. I really had no idea where I was or what I was doing.

Once that was done? I got sick. Luckily, not FLU sick, but scratchy throat, eyes, sneezing, coughing, blah blah blah. Naturally, I had to go to a government office and wait six hours in a crowd of people as every hole in my face was leaking. Gross! Sorry!

And after that? Yesterday, I tripped and sprained my ankle. To add insult to injury, my face INSTANTANIOUSLY produced two giant red cold sores. Because, why not? I mean, this city only has approximately one trillion staircases and I only have to teach in front of a bunch of adults merely feet away from my face! WHY NOT.

So, no, some people are not meant to do some rough-terrain-snake-eating-majestic-looking adventuring. Some of us aren’t meant to be constantly photogenic, or always have something profound up their sleeves.

Some people have an incredibly hard time functioning in a place that is actually just a bizarro version of the city she just came from. We all can’t be graceful, alright? Please just love me anyway.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Today is my one month anniversary! I made it one month! (barely!) to celebrate, people threw me a giant festival.

AWH SHUCKS GUYS YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE IT’S NOT THAT BIG OF DEAL.

Just kidding, this was the Hamburg Port Birthday festival! 827 years young! They had giant boats, crazy fried foods and a surprisingly large amount of healthy foods, a cigarette stand…

Lazy robots, magical robots!!!…

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Some sort of bizarre dance troupe in spandex (the best part of this was that all of the people were just staring at them blankly and not moving as they were dancing their little hearts out)

And me enjoying a nonalcoholic beverage.

IN OTHER, OTHER NEWS:

I have finally moved out of my Airbnb into another temporary living situation in a new neighborhood. I have only slept here one night, but so far the grocery store a block from my house has fresh squeezed orange juice (YOU WATCH IT GET SQUEEZED IN A MACHINE) so I really can’t complain yet.

Much love, I promise I’ll be more optimistic next time!

Sarah

 

Some People are Graceful and Others are Not

Ents, Obedient Dogs, and Dads with Strollers

Hello my beautiful spring time friends!

I was going to write a long, whiny tale about getting my work permit, but ALAS, it hasn’t happened yet. I’m quickly learning that I need to not make the assumption that I’ll know what I’ll talk about next week because who knows what will happen in five minutes in this unchartered, highly populated territory.

So, this week I’m going to dive into more acute observations about our German brethren.

When I was at the subway stop (yes, I’ve somewhat mastered the subway system, which is such an achievement on its own I can’t even begin to describe the elation I feel in my heart. Here’s a picture below for your overwhelming enjoyment.)

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AMERICAN GENES?

ANYWAYZ, when one is at the subway stop, you get to people watch like never before. Remember, people openly and unabashedly stare directly at you here, so you get to do the same. It’s a little startling at how quickly I became accustomed to being creepy! Over time, I’ve started thinking creepy things like, “Oh, she has an American mouth.”

I would have never had guessed that someone could have an American mouth, but there it is. Even though people are REALLY white here, it’s a German white, a European white if you will, and there’s a difference. Who knew!

MAJESTIC TALL PEOPLE

Another interesting note, and it’s actually wonderfully poetic, is that people are tall here. I am a 5’8″ chubby gal respectively, and I was always taller than most of my female friends, and frankly taller than half of my OKcupid dates. Here, I’m on the short end of the spectrum. For the most part, everyone is 5’8″ and above, and probably average around 6 feet tall. Long and lean. The majority of people here in Hamburg, at least under the age of 50, have bodies of athletes and models. INTIMIDATING.

But the BEST part… is that every so often, you see someone a foot taller than the rest. When everyone else is 6 feet, there is a 7 foot tall person (men and women) parting their way through the crowd. They walk differently. They move slower. Their heads are slightly elongated. I asked my interesting and captivating Airbnb host, and she mentioned that Germans have deep roots from the old growth forests here. That some of them have tree-blood. I’m no scientist, but it checks out!

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I want to believe.

GERMAN DOGS

Okay, so, I have a long history with dogs. Who can forget the time one bit me on my left buttock when I was 8? Or when dad would bring home these mangy mutts from the golf course? And, rain or shine, dogs from anyone and everyone in America would jump up on me like a moth to the flame.

BUT IN GERMANY? SIMPLY NOT SO.

First of all, dogs 9 times out of 10 aren’t on leashes. They walk ahead of their owners with equal parts confidence and obedience written all over their faces. Like their owners, they STARE, but they do not even THINK about getting in my space. These are the most polite, well behaved dogs I’ve ever seen. In fact, here’s a picture of a dog on a leash because of the sheer novelty of it.

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This brings me to my second observation about these dogs… a lot of them are DIFFERENT looking. I obviously have heard of German Shepards…but there are these wire-haired dogs of all different kinds here. Scrappy, well-behaved, diligent creatures! It’s baffling!

I want to pet a dog already but the dogs don’t want to be pet!

BABIES

Babies are abundant here. Maybe it’s because it’s spring, maybe it’s because people love walking here. I couldn’t say. The thing I could say is that I have seen tons of dads with strollers. Here’s a creepy picture I took of not one, but TWO dads with strollers walking down the street.

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It’s nice to see! I also heard that people get approximately three years of maternity leave here? THINK ABOUT THAT, AMERICA.

Also, people leave babies everywhere. Trying to get your pants tailored? Leave your baby outside. Want a quick beer before heading off? Leave your baby outside. We are not in Kansas anymore.

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Anyways, here’s an abundance of photos that I could not get around to writing about. Things from swan boats, strange squirrels, my bread baby and more.

Maybe next time I’ll have my work permit! Haaaaa!

Sarah

Ents, Obedient Dogs, and Dads with Strollers

Dazed, Confused, Bewildered, Amazed

Dear friends!

This past week I have been finding scraps of time to take observational notes, but for the most part I’ve been so fatigued and confused I genuinely don’t know if it’s settled in yet that I’m trying to make a life for myself in a new country. That being said, I’d like to talk about my first impressions of Hamburg, Germany. I think they will change…or I will change… because already the shock my system went through is settling down to a steady hum.

I’m determined! I’m forever confused by the government hoops I have to jump through to get my work visa! But, I’ll save that for another blog.

Observation #1: Staring

People love to stare here. As soon as I entered into this city… the taxi driver, the people on the subway, the old men, the babies in their carriages… these people love to stare. Now, the American in me of course instinctually smiles when someone is staring (minus creepy people) but here, they just stare with no noticeable expression difference. It becomes unnerving. Overwhelming. The eyes of people that you cannot communicate well with are staring you down always 3-5 seconds too long and you have no choice but to stare back or turn away.

Here’s a series of stock images from Google so you can get a glimpse of what it feels like to be stared at relentlessly.

(I picked mostly white people because this city is in fact… filled with a lot of white people)

The Optimist In Me: This means of course, you can openly people watch. Which is in my top ten favorite activities.

Observation #2: Food

Everything looks and tastes slightly better. Brighter, even? I don’t know why. It could just be me, but I talked to my Airbnb host /hopefully new best friend 😉  and she mentioned that Germany has strict government regulations on how chickens are raised and eggs and stuff. I can’t argue with her, the egg yolks here are a bright sunset orange compared to the yellow we’re used to in the states.

This picture also comes from the internet to show you the difference. There’s lots of “controversy” about what the color means, but I’ve been eating orange eggs and can taste the difference.

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On a broader scope of the food situation. I just… I have been eating SO MUCH. There are really some attractive people here, tall, lean, European, aloof and graceful, and it’s been causing me to just eat on behalf of everyone. Eat and drink and eat. OH MAN, THE BREAD. THE BREAD DESERVES ITS OWN POST, But the strange thing is… I don’t feel bloated. I’m losing weight and yet eating more? I’m not a scientist, but my tight jeans are becoming looser as I stuff my face with croissants. Here’s a series of pictures of my food adventures thus far.

 

Buffets, giant bowls of Kaffee und Milch, best quiche I’ve ever had, weird veggies, nine pm gelato, stuffed seafood potatoes and so much more! Needless to say, I won’t go hungry. B-)

Observation #3: Quiet Charms

I think the most important part, through my haze of trying to live here, are the small moments of kindness and magic that I can STILL somehow see, even though I’m in this weird hibernation mode. The harshness of the staring paired with still nippy weather has caused me to feel a little unhinged, but through this unsettled feeling, I have still noticed some extreme kindness.

10 out of 10 times I have noticed people offering people with baby carriages or luggage to help them carry it up or down the stairs.

There are several Lake Alster swans that are lovely and forever startling. These birds are HUGE and magnificent.

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Tiny houses and tiny boat racing!

And so many undiscovered museums I can’t wait to get my eyeballs on.

For now, I feel like I made the right decision. It’s a honest-to-God challenge beyond my wildest dreams… in some ways it feels like you’re a child again. How do you make copies on a copy machine when everything is in another language? But I’m surviving. Not thriving yet, but surviving and that’s good enough.

Still getting my bearings,

Sarah

Next Week: Navigating the System: The Art of Getting a Work Permit

Dazed, Confused, Bewildered, Amazed

BON VOYAGE AND FITTING MY STUFF INTO ONE SUITCASE

I think there’s several levels of exhaustion at work here. One level is just never sleeping quite enough (the energy of leaving, plus all of this damn sunshine causes me to wake up far too early. Thanks, Southern California.), another level is continuously saying goodbye to friends and family members with the weak hope that they’d come visit me in Germany. And the final level is material exhaustion.

HOW DO YOU PACK YOUR WHOLE LIFE IN A BAG?

HOW DO YOU DRESS PROFESSIONALLY?

HOW MANY BOOKS ABOUT ENGLISH GRAMMAR SHOULD I STUDY WITH ON THE PLANE SO IT LOOKS LIKE I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING?

These questions are haunting me any chance I get.

Regardless, I’m happy. This feels so right it’s almost alarming.

Over this past week I’ve collected a series of pictures that accurately describe my feelings of excitement, resoluteness, love, bittersweetness, fake-it-till-you-make-it bravery, and a dash of fear. Enjoy!

In regards to saying goodbye to my friends and family:

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In regards to my never-ending fatigue and stress eating:

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Jessica Warrick (artist of mermaid)

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In regards to this weird feeling of just not giving a rats ass anymore and just GOING FOR IT, YO:

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Pep talks to myself that it’s okay to be overweight, different, have a large personality and be exuberant. Being meek doesn’t suit me anymore. There’s enough room for me:

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Dreamy thoughts about the fantasies of Hamburg:

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Christian Schloe (artist)

I was about to show an image of my overflowing suitcase as the final picture, but it isn’t pretty, and I will have to reevaluate a few million items. Instead I found this lovely bag. Let’s just pretend I’m this dainty and whimsical instead, shall we?

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Travel bag for ladies, 1900 – 1930. Exhibition 2015. Museum for communication, Berlin

GUYS THE NEXT TIME YOU HEAR FROM ME I’LL BE IN GERMANY. DID YOU GET THE MEMO? I’M MOVING TO GERMANY. THE AIRBNBs ARE NON-REFUNDABLE.

Much love,

Sarah

 

BON VOYAGE AND FITTING MY STUFF INTO ONE SUITCASE

Interlude of Bittersweetness

I have lived in Seattle for 9 years. Almost to the nose. Only now, a day away from my road trip down to CA to drop off my stuff before embarking to Hamburg, does it hit me like a lead balloon. My stomach is writhing. How can I experience such a profound sense of certainty that I’m making the right decision for my well-being and then simultaneously feel the walls crumbling around me?

The wall started crumbling when I gave away my pet turtle of 8 years, Mr. Fuji. The longest standing roommate I’ve ever had, Fuji showed no affection what so ever, enjoyed blueberries and dark corners, and was older than me by at least 6 years. He let me put him on my belly to watch him rise and fall. He survived a dog attack. He survived the unnecessary amount of affection and long ramblings late into the night.

Fuji, I will miss you. I love you, buddy.

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7 out of the 9 years I spent in Seattle, my affections were also shared with a human male. Our relationship wasn’t perfect. But when you spend that much time with a person, you’re bound to miss the little things. The sound and warmth of someone sleeping next to you, the nervous habits they have. Though the relationship was ultimately not a healthy situation for either party, and escaping this city means finally not associating places with old memories, there’s a profound sadness that giving up Seattle finally means giving up this giant part of my past. Today I threw away all of his old letters and gifts.

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(circa 2009)

This city gave me my first and second roommates, a chance to live alone and establish independence, a greeting card business, heartbreak, grief of losing a parent, reconnecting with my brother, horrible OKcupid dating anecdotes, my first real addiction to coffee, a chance to live in a 280 square foot living space and a chance to create a children’s book.

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This city gave me so many interesting, beautiful friendships. All ebbing and flowing, some growing and maturing with me, others fading away with each passing year. It gave me a chance to work in retail, a way to get my bachelors degree in an obscure subject. Hiking adventures, mastering peeing in the woods and building a fire, introductions to banana slugs and blackberry picking, “the Seattle Freeze”, and a series of many crappy short hair cuts.

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But most of all, Seattle gave me my first taste of completeness. This feeling of contentment in a sea of discomfort accumulated from years of feeling unworthy and grief and living in a body with chemicals and life circumstances that are against me. I spent my entire 20’s here growing and expanding outward. Seattle helped me understand that although I couldn’t follow the “norms” of what a person is supposed to do with their lives, the chapters have yet to unfold in any consecutive order, Seattle unveiled a little corner for me to adapt and flourish.

Seattle, I’m so grateful for you taking me in and showing me the ropes. Thank you for letting me explore as an artist and as a person. My time is up here, but how can I forget you? Your fresh air and green foresty hills are a part of me forever.

Love,

Sarah

Interlude of Bittersweetness