Worms, May 27, 2017

So I went to Worms yesterday, on a specific mission. I wanted to buy some locally-produced German wine as a gift for my dad. Most of the wines available in grocery stores here are decent, but not anything I’d consider bringing across the ocean. My dad likes really high-quality stuff, so I needed to search out a dedicated wine store, and after some Google research, I found one in Worms.

I started the day around 9, did my usual morning things, then headed to the train station to catch the train to Worms. It’s only about 20 minutes by train from Mannheim, and the train wasn’t very full, so it was a pleasant little trip. I arrived at the Worms train station and plotted a rough course toward the St. Peter Cathedral, which I wanted to visit before the wine store, as I really love going into old European cathedrals.

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This is the Martin Luther Memorial in Worms. Very impressive and located in a lovely little park, which I passed through on my way to the cathedral. Worms is the actual name of the city, and it’s a famous and historically important city in Germany (although rather small, compared to other cities). It’s the city where the “Diet of Worms” happened (not the kind of diet that has to do with food). It was an assembly of the Holy Roman Empire to respond to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. You can Google it if you want to know more, but suffice it to say that if you’re a non-Catholic Christian, you owe the existence of your faith to Martin Luther. 😉

I also happened upon this, the “Memorial for the Victims of Fascism”. It’s normal for most cities in Germany to have memorials of various kinds for the people who were killed, tortured, and/or exiled as a result of the Nazi regime that came to power in the 1940s. Many cities also have “Stolpersteine” or “Stumbling Blocks” which are polished bronze plaques that are placed in the middle of sidewalks, each bearing the name of a family or individual who was killed. They’re raised slightly, although not enough that they cause any real danger of tripping, mostly it’s symbolic. Germany lives with the constant reminder of what they allowed to happen in the middle of the 20th century. I think of this often, and wonder how different other countries would be if they all treated their past tragedies in this way (slavery and genocide of indigenous peoples come to mind for my own country).

Past the memorial, I could just barely see the cathedral’s towers above the old city walls. I found a staircase to climb up and went through the passage to see the side of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Unfortunately there was some construction that overtook the whole area on one side of it, so I wasn’t able to walk around it entirely, but it was still impressive.

The interior was very dark, actually much darker than I expected, although I was able to get a few photos. Naturally, the area around the altar was the most well-lit, and it took a little while of waiting for other tourists to finish taking their pictures before I was able to get mine.

I exited on the other side of the building from where I’d come in, after paying a nice older gentleman 40 cents for a post card of the cathedral. I like to buy postcards from the various museums, memorials, and cathedrals I visit, as they tend to be better than my own pictures and they’re a lot lighter than bulky souvenirs like mugs or whatnot.

I really loved this little bronze representation of the cathedral, but when I started taking pictures of it, I realized that it was a visual representation for blind people. You can see in the side view where the explanation is all in Braille, and there were multiple Braille passages on parts of the cathedral so people would know which part they were touching. I thought that was really cool, and I think this should become normal for all monuments and places of architectural & historical interest.

After I left the cathedral, I once again consulted Google Maps and headed toward the wine store. It was actually extremely close, and when I arrived there were several men and women sitting on benches out front, enjoying glasses of wine and chatting amiably. It was a store and a wine bar, you could sit and drink wine and then buy a bottle to take home. I was greeted by the man working behind the counter. I told him that I was looking for a gift for my father, who likes strong red wines, and he recommended a couple different ones, and also said I could try their signature red to see if I thought he’d like it. I ended up buying two bottles, one of the signature red and one of another red, and hoped he would like them. I thanked the employee for his help, stashed the two bottles in my messenger bag (which I’d brought specifically for wine carrying purposes), and went on my way.

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Here’s my last picture from Worms, of the Siegfried Fountain. Worms is also famous in part because it’s the supposed setting of the mythical Nibelungenlied, which was the inspiration for the Ring Cycle by Wagner (it’s a pretty interesting myth, but don’t jump into Wagner without some preparation). Siegfried is the hero of the Nibelungenlied, hence why he gets a fountain. He looks pretty good for a product of incest.

It was getting hot and I was hungry, and a little thirsty after the wine, so I got some ice cream on my way back to the train station. That wasn’t quite enough, so I ended up stopping at a little cafe bakery and having some tea (despite the very hot weather) and cake before I went back. I’d considered trying to go to Heidelberg later on, but by the time I arrived back in Mannheim, I was hot and tired and a little sore from the heavy wine bottles, so I ended up deciding against it.

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I did end up finding a walk-in salon and getting a haircut and eyebrow styling (threading, not waxing), because my boss told me last week that she wants to get a picture of me on Tuesday for the company website, and my hair wasn’t looking very good (I’d been growing it out, so it was in that shaggy in-between stage), so I made the decision to do that. It should also help once I get back to the states, not having hair on my neck will definitely be a blessing in the Florida summer heat.

Overall it was a lovely day, and I was pleasantly sleepy by the time I got to bed. 🙂

Berlin, April 30, 2017

First I make my way to Museum Island. On the way I spot a beautiful bird looking at me. I think it’s a hawk at first, then it turns its head and I realize it’s a corvid, a crow or raven perhaps, but half of its feathers are grey instead of black. I manage to take a few pictures before it flies away.

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I visit the Bode Museum, which I’ve never been to. It’s interesting, but most of it is Christian art. They do have an exhibit on coins through the ages, which is really cool. I wonder why almost all coins have been round for forever? In another gallery I find a marble statue of a girl putting on her sandals and I fall in love with her face. I take pictures so I’ll remember her. I wonder what her name was.


After the museum is the antique and book market. I’ve been here multiple times before, and each time is interesting, but I’m also a lot wiser than I was the first time. I walk right by the stalls full of tourist-y crap and focus on the books and antiques. I’m caught by a book stall that has several tiny books, around the right size for the dolls. A few stalls down is a bunch of miniature household things, most likely made for doll houses, and I have to tear myself away to walk further. I come to the end and turn back and get caught by the miniatures again. I tell myself I’ll come back once I’ve seen everything. I walk through and nothing else catches my interest. I was half-hoping to find a beer stein that a friend and I had found a few years back and he loved, but neither of us had the money for it. I was going to buy it for him, if I saw it, but unfortunately I didn’t. I return to the miniatures and buy several, about six of them for 10 Euros. I buy two of the tiny books too, another 10 Euros.

I sit in the Monbijou park, resting my tired feet after two hours of museum and antique market walking. The sun in bright but the wind is brisk. I’m warm, so I sit in the shade next to the fountain. A doting father poses his little girl in front of it for a photo, the picture of familial bliss. A long-haired black dachshund runs by, his owner biking behind him, and the girls giggle and run to their mother, acting scared but also pleased. The dog is happy, tongue lolling, and his owner smiles at the mother reassuringly as they pass by. I see the street car pass and I suddenly want to cry. This Berlin will always be my heart, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get to stay here. Passing through, like a ghost, leaving only the smallest trace behind me.

I’m cold now, so I get up and walk again. It’s a beautiful day.

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Two young men practicing boxing while another films them. On the other side, another pair of young men appear to be practicing American football. I assume they’re American students, studying abroad, until one says something in unaccented German.

I reach Hackescher Markt and a musician is finishing up “Country Roads” and it’s kind of hilarious and sweetly naive. As I pass, he starts into “Hey Jude”. He’s pretty good, but it’s too safe. The Beatles are always safe. I guess he does have to make a living, though.

I walk a bit down the street to where I remember there being a noodle shop next door to a döner place. The noodle shop is gone, but the döner place is still there. I order a vegetarian one with cheese, garlic sauce and every vegetable. I walk back to the open area of Hackescher Markt and sit down to eat it there. It’s delicious and tastes just like I remember, except this time the cheese sank to the bottom of the pita instead of the red cabbage. I’m still 25 minutes early to meet Emilie, so I sit and people watch.

Two Italian (I think) men approach me and ask if I know where a restaurant called “buong” is. I say no, they ask if I’ll use my phone to look it up, as neither of them have a data plan. I don’t sense any harm to them, so I say yes. One of them sits down next to me so he can see my screen as I pull up Google Maps. It turns out after some searching that he means “Monsieur Vuong” which is a famous Vietnamese restaurant nearby, and I’ve been there years before. I tell them how to get there and they thank me gratefully. I smile as they say goodbye and walk away.

Emilie arrives, and I don’t recognize her for a moment because her hair is very short! It looks good, of course, because she always looks good. It’s so good to see her, we end up sitting at a cafe right at Hackescher Markt for several hours and catching up on each other’s lives. I can’t express how happy I am to see her again. I remember how few friends like her I have, the ones who I always miss and it doesn’t matter how many years go by, we’re always happy to see each other again.

We walk back to the antiques market, which she says she hasn’t visited since I took her there three years ago. We find the artist’s market, which I hadn’t realized was open today, and walk through it, bemoaning our lack of funds and how we’d like to buy everything. I get caught at a stall with beautiful ceramics, including hanging tiles with various types of cats painted on them. It’s almost time for the markets to end, so some people are already packing up, but we see enough pretty things. On the way back I end up buying one of the cat tiles, a little brown sleeping kitten who reminds me of Kočka.

We walk over to the antiques market to browse there as well. People there are also starting to pack up, but not very quickly. Emilie notices a pewter plate, “Berlin 1990” and laughs and asks if I remember. Suddenly I do, a rush of memory of buying her that same plate (the same design, anyway) for her birthday three years ago. She wanted it, but didn’t have the money. It made me happy to buy it for her. She says she still has it, it’s sitting in her library at home.

Emilie ends up buying a handmade journal with an embossed leather cover, a beautiful thing. I love journals, but I write so slowly by hand that I never use them. She also asks after the price of an old typewriter, which is out of her price range right now, but she’s glad to know, just in case.

We make our way back to Hackescher Markt to the S Bahn to head home. Emilie asks if I want to walk to the Goethe Institut, but my feet are starting to hurt so we head to the train instead. It turns out we’re going almost to the same area, so we talk some more while we ride the train. It’s bittersweet, knowing our time together is coming to an end, but we’re also so happy to have the chance. We hug once more as I get off at my station, and I look back one last time before the doors close, one last glimpse of my dear friend.

Dream Journal 10-29-16

[Content Note: guns, assault]

This dream was basically entirely influenced by the fact that I was re-reading Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler into the wee hours of the morning. In my dream, I was a human foster child of an Oankali family living on Earth (except it was modern Earth, not the reborn Earth in the book), and they’d made an arranged marriage for me with a human male who was also an Oankali foster child. I was still in contact with my human family, and invited them to my engagement party, because I was really happy I was going to become an adult and be able to have children and have an ooloi. When they arrived, though, things quickly deteriorated. They were afraid of the Oankali, and my father even brought a gun, which sent my foster sisters (who were mixed human-Oankali constructs) into panic. I made it very clear, in no uncertain terms, that either the gun had to go or he did, if my parents returned with my betrothed’s parents and found the gun, they’d destroy it, and possible ban my father from the house entirely. So he threw it on the roof, thinking he could retrieve it later, but I knew my foster parents would find it and destroy it. When my Oankali parents arrived with my betrothed and his Oankali parents, things started getting awkward. I liked him okay, but I didn’t feel the “draw” that I was supposed to. I realized that I was more strongly drawn to my foster brother, another human fosterling (who I was not biologically related to). Since Oankali families usually have brother/sister mating pairs (plus their ooloi), we’d been raised without that human taboo, and when I approached him (ostensibly to ask his opinion about my betrothed) I could feel the electricity of our connection. I realized then that I couldn’t go to my betrothed, and started struggling with the fact that it would disappoint my Oankali parents (and probably shock my human ones), but that they’d probably be happy eventually. I was still agonizing over how to approach them about it when I woke up.

The oddest thing about the dream was the complete lack of ooloi. In the book, the ooloi are basically the ones that hold the family unit together (both literally and figuratively, such as in the group matings), but I didn’t have an ooloi parent present my dream, or a prospective ooloi mate (although that could be partially explained by the fact that I didn’t have a male mate yet, hence the betrothal, since the ooloi prefer their mates come to them as a pair). Obviously the dream referenced ooloi, but near the end even my dream-self was like “wait where are the ooloi”. XD

Obviously this dream doesn’t make a lot of sense if you haven’t read the books. 😉 Do yourself a favor and go read them, they’re easily one of the best sci-fi trilogies of all time. One of my favorite things about it is how alien the Oankali are. A lot of aliens in modern sci-fi tend to be simply “weird-looking humanoids”, who aren’t truly alien at all (they have the same motivations and passions as humans, because we have a hard time relating to them otherwise). The Oankali are so completely alien that it’s a little disturbing to read about them. And yet there’s also this longing, this mixture of fear and desire that the humans in the book feel, that the author so expertly expresses and makes the reader feel too. Truly alien aliens are so rare in sci-fi, and so often played as hostile or unknowable, that it’s really a pleasure to read about aliens who are so utterly alien and yet also so enticing.

Dream Journal 10-12-16

I was found by a group of young people, who took me to a Halloween parade that their town was having, and we were all seated on a bench along the side of a building to watch it. I realized that things weren’t as they seemed, though. A bunch of otherworldly figures approached, pretending to be part of the parade, and I warned the people around me not to leave their seats (I think my exact words were “don’t separate your butt from this bench”) or they would get carried off by the spirits. Only a few people listened to me, and when the spirits left, we saw that almost the entire group was gone. There were only about eight of us that hadn’t left our seats, and a couple more that had but seemed fine, but I whispered to the others that they shouldn’t be trusted until we were sure. I discovered that one source of strange things was an open door (we were inside a house at this point), through which they’d previously let their pet cats roam, but now was letting weird green smoke and ghostly figures in. I figured out that if I laid my hands on ghosts and spirits pretending to be alive, I could shout a mystic word at them and they’d dissipate. So I shut the door tight and went around shouting until the only people left were real people, and we kept getting fewer and fewer in number. Finally there were only four of us left, me, my mom, my oldest brother, and an old lady (in the dream she was my grandma, but she doesn’t exist in real life). My oldest brother ignored my warnings and went into another room (I’d discovered that basically any door was an entry point for the ghosts, so I was trying to keep them all shut, with only moderate success) and became possessed by Something Evil, a big bad ghost that was much stronger than any of the ones I’d dealt with thus far. It was so powerful that I couldn’t even get near it to put my hands on it, and I was wracking my brains to try to figure out how I could free my brother and hopefully end the haunting. My mom helped by distracting it, although it wasn’t super intent on harming us right then, it was focused on doing some kind of ritual (probably to open the gates of Hell or something), so it was only taking pot shots at us, not actually attacking (hence why I was willing to let my mom help). I finally figured out that even though I couldn’t reach it with my hands, my voice was the real weapon. So I quietly began warming up, and when I was ready, I stepped out from under the fake plant where I’d been hiding, and let loose a really loud burst of singing, culminating in a super high note. He sent wave after wave of birds to try to peck at me and stop me, but they couldn’t even get close to me because of the shockwave effect of my singing, and finally it reached him and he was defeated. My oldest brother came back and was apologetic about not believing me, and I gathered him and my mom and grandma in a central room (that we’d figured out was pretty much the safest place in the house), and told them that the house felt different, and maybe it was safe now, but I had to do a seance to communicate with the remaining spirits and see what they said. Before I could start, though, my brother took off and went through one of the dangerous doors without any warning, but even as I shouted at him to stop, I realized he was coming back and everything was fine. The same thing happened with our grandma, she ran through a different door and then came running back, and I saw a laughing spirit who looked like me when I was 11-12 years old. The spirit then approached me and told me that I’d freed her, and now the house was safe, she could go to the next life and the rest of the spirits would move on as well. I took her hand and she smiled, then faded away in a burst of light.

There were bits before and after this, but the before has no relation, and the after played out like a really bad movie sequel (basically having almost nothing to do with the plot of the first one, just having the same name), this was the important part. 😉 I haven’t really managed to get across how vivid it was, how gory and terrifying the specters were, how amazing it was at the end when the nice spirit came to me. But that’s why I write these short synopses down, when I read it, I’ll remember.

I Refuse to Settle

[CN: frank discussions of sex and sexuality, possible TMI]

A couple months ago, I was contacted on Facebook messenger by someone I didn’t know. It was a guy who said he knew one of the women I knew in my undergrad, which was confirmed when I checked his friends’ list. He said that she’d told him I was his type, so he asked if he could friend me and we could talk. I told him I wasn’t looking for anything romantic right now, but we could be friends and talk a bit.

It didn’t take too long for the thread to unravel. It was clear that he was only interested in sex. We exchanged pleasantries a few times, but then he started leaving bigoted comments on articles I shared. This was right around when Brexit happened, and he posted things like “the English are understandably scared about all the immigrants taking their jobs”. I was miffed, because I’d told him when he first reached out to me that he should read my wall to get to know me, and he said he had, but he obviously didn’t (or else didn’t think my extremely strong-held liberal beliefs mattered, which is worse). When I looked at his profile, I found he was unemployed and living with his parents in NC (I was still in OH at that time), and often commented on his friends posts in condescending tones. There was no evidence that he was looking for a job or to improve his lot. Being unemployed and living with your parents isn’t a deal breaker, but not caring about changing that definitely is for me. And acting like a douche to people who are supposedly your friends is even more of one. I resolved to mostly ignore him, which wasn’t hard because he didn’t really try to pursue me. I finally unfriended him a few weeks ago, and haven’t heard from him since.

What bothers me about this experience isn’t that some dude came onto me on Facebook, or that he was mildly douchey. The problem was that a girl who had known me (admittedly quite a few years ago) had told this guy that I was his type. I don’t know exactly what else she may have told him, because even though she’s my FB friend we don’t really talk, but either his ego or something she said made him think that I would welcome his attention. And therein lies the really infuriating subtext to this whole encounter, because guys like this (and many other people) seem to think that I should be grateful for any attention because I’m fat.

Time and again I’ve had friends and acquaintances try to set me up with men I had absolutely nothing in common with, simply because said men liked fat women. I once had a gay friend point out a girl in a crowd to me, and said “you might like her”, when it was obvious all we had in common was being fat (and bisexual, according to him). True, I often used to bewail my single status, but not liking being single does not equate to being desperate, at least not for me. If I had truly been desperate, I would’ve dated (or at least had sex with) this one guy I knew in my undergrad, who was creepy and always telling me he’d like to sleep with me (I mainly used him as a free ride, since I didn’t have a car at the time). That ended one day when we were watching a movie at my apartment and he did something that pissed me off and I half-jokingly said “I could poke you with my knitting needles” and he pulled out a knife and said “and if you did I’d stab you” and I said “get the hell out of my house”. Thankfully it ended there, which is a happy ending compared to what many other women have been through in similar situations.

The thing is, I’ve made peace with my perpetual singleness. I used to worry that there was something wrong with me, because it seemed like the only people who ever expressed interest in me were online and very far away. I never got to date in college, and it wasn’t until a few years after I graduated that I had my first boyfriend. That didn’t last long, mostly because I realized the basis of our relationship was me being happy someone liked me, and when that faded there was no point in continuing. A couple years later and I had my first real boyfriend, someone I really cared about and enjoyed spending time with. We were together for a couple years, although physically we were apart for much of that time (because I was overseas for 18 of the 36 months we were together, and only saw each other on weekends the rest of the time). He was a good guy, but when he asked me about where he fit in to my plans to move overseas, I realized I didn’t want to be with him any longer, and I certainly didn’t want him to move to a foreign country where he didn’t speak the language just to be with me. I broke his heart, and I’m sorry I did, but it was the best for both of us. I broke up with him last Fall, and despite a few brief online flirtations, I’ve been single since. And I’m okay with that. I definitely wouldn’t mind having someone to cuddle, because I miss physical contact, but I don’t want to get involved in anything right now, especially because I’m still job searching and not sure where I’ll end up.

To be totally honest, the only thing I feel like I’m missing out on is sex. Neither of the two men I’ve dated did much for me in that department (for various reasons), and I feel like I’d really like to find a good partner (or partners) for that, someone who isn’t creepy about it, who cares enough about me to make it fun, but not necessarily wants to have a relationship. A friends with benefits situation would suit me just fine, I think. But it feels almost impossible to find someone like that without already being friends with them, y’know? And I don’t exactly have a lot of friends (and an even smaller number I’d even consider in that regard, let alone whether they’d consider me), especially in limbo here in NC.

So I’ll just be single, I think. And I’d rather be single until the day I die, than entertain another well-meaning friend’s chubby-chaser acquaintance who doesn’t see me for anything but my fat body. I am not your fetish, goddamn it, I am a person. And even in a potential FWB situation, I reserve every right to choose someone who finds me sexy for more than just my fat. Because I refuse to settle. I refuse to be the desperate fat girl. I refuse to be anything less than who I want to be, and be with only who I choose to be with. If you’re going to set me up out of pity, then don’t fucking bother. I’d rather my vibrator than some douche who wouldn’t even admit to his friends that he wanted to fuck me because I’m fat. The vibrator’s quieter and more focused on getting me off!

Dealing with Rejection

So I’m job searching right now, had an over Skype interview earlier today. Job searching is like my personal worst nightmare. Being forced to make myself vulnerable over and over to people I don’t know. Being forced to meet people and try to market myself to them when I often feel like I know nothing and don’t do anything well (because depression and anxiety). Being forced to write meaningless cover letters over and over. These are all things that I see no value in doing. And everything is so competitive, because everyone needs a job, and there’s always someone better than you who wants the same job you do, and it really doesn’t feel worth it to even try when you know you’re going to fail over and over and over.

I hate failure. I’m not used to it, first of all. As a child, I was usually good at whatever I tried, and if I wasn’t, I quickly stopped doing it. My parents never forced me to go through with things if I didn’t want to do them, so I never learned that failure can be a good thing. And all the pop psychology articles in the world telling me “failure helps you learn” and “failure is normal” don’t help dispel my feelings that if I fail at a particular task, that I am a failure at everything. When I fail, I see it as a direct indicator of my personal worth. So if I fail, I’m worthless. And if I fail over and over and over again, I’m worse than worthless. I might as well not even try.

That isn’t a very helpful attitude when job searching, but I can’t really help how I feel. Doing any activity where I just feel more and more worthless the longer it goes on is torture for me. I’d rather have heated nails driven into my flesh than have to apply to jobs over and over and just end up being rejected every time.

I don’t mind as much when I submit a resume and just get a form email rejection. I have half a second of disappointment and then I move on. What makes me feel awful is being rejected after an interview. That’s a more personal rejection. When I go to a bunch of effort to look nice and prepare, and then the interview seems to go well, but they then send me an email or call me to say they don’t want me, I feel awful. It would be easier if they would tell me why. If there was something I did, or if they had a way more promising candidate who interviewed after me, or if they already had someone in mind for the position but had to put the job posting out there anyway. I mean, I get that they can’t usually disclose that kind of information, but I wish they could. It would help me to know they aren’t rejecting me personally. But then, maybe they are, and it would feel awful if they told me they didn’t hire me because I’m fat, or because I’m too old, or whatnot. So maybe it wouldn’t help to know why.

I have another interview on Thursday. Right now I’m sure that job won’t hire me either. So I’ll have to go put myself out there again, and again, and get rejected again. Thinking about it makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry.

So that’s where I’m at right now.

Just Stoppin’ By

I realized recently that part of the reason I don’t make quick, simple posts here is that I usually do regular “stop-ins” via Facebook. Unless I have a Real Blog Post to write, I don’t post anything here. Which, since I haven’t had much time for a Real Blog Post in a while, means I haven’t posted much here.

So I’m gonna try to post more regularly, even if they’re short posts. I’m currently working on packing what’s left of my belongings (what didn’t get sold in the yard sale or get taken by friends or given to charity), I’m moving out Thursday. Thankfully I’ve had several friends help me with stuff, I definitely wouldn’t have gotten everything done in time without them. I have a bunch of last-minute errands to run tomorrow, as well as more packing to do. I did take a break and went to see Ghostbusters with a friend, and it was awesome (hopefully I’ll have time to write more about it soon). So everything has been going okay for me. I hope it’s going well for you too!